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France: Following the Attacks, the Bishops Appeal for Respect

Everything Is Lawful but not Everything is Constructive

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“There is no true freedom without respect and without fraternity,” said the Bishop of France in an appeal published on November 7, 2020, in the wake of the attacks. Everything is lawful but not everything is constructive, they stress.

Profoundly bruised by the Islamist attacks and more particularly by that of a teacher at Conflans-Sainte-Honorine and then three Catholics in a church of Nice, the Bishops of France, gathered in Plenary Assembly, condemned these crimes without reservations.

They recall Pope Francis’ strong statement in his encyclical “Brothers All”: “The Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and I myself stated firmly that religions never incite to war and never elicit sentiments of hatred, hostility, extremism or invite to violence or the spilling of blood.” (Fratelli Tutti, October 2020).

On associating themselves to the national tribute rendered today to Simone, Nadine and Vincent, the Bishops of France appeal to all their compatriots:

And if we were to begin by respect and fraternity?

Freedom must be defended, without weakness. Does that mean that freedom of expression must not know any restraint vis-a-vis others and ignore the necessity of debate and dialogue?

Yes, believers as all citizens can be wounded by insults, taunts and also by offensive caricatures.

More than to supplementary laws, we invite each one, in conscience, to respect.

“Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”: fraternity is a republican value. Our exercise of freedom can’t ignore it. In our individual and collective, personal, and institutional behaviors we must take it into account.

We share with you our profound conviction: freedom grows when it goes hand in hand with fraternity.

As Saint Paul said: “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor” (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).

It is time to reflect on the manner in which our collective institutions and our individual behaviors must promote respect and deploy fraternity.

This urgent reflection must be engaged in by our public powers.

It concerns each one of us. It concerns all of us.

The Bishops of France gathered in Plenary Assembly.

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