ROME, FEB. 3, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Two of the most important challenges facing the Church in France are to “propose the faith without fear” and “to restore esteem for the Church, the priesthood and consecrated life,” says a French archbishop.
Archbishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont spoke about these challenges Monday at the St. Louis Cultural Center of France in Rome.
It is vital that “an 18-year-old boy or girl in France today be able to consider the question of a religious or priestly life,” said the archbishop, who is also vice president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community.
“Today it is psychologically and spiritually very difficult for them to have the freedom to think that this is possible, and this is why we must help them and give them the right to consider the question,” the archbishop said.
To achieve this, “Catholic communities must make an effort and go to the heart of the faith,” he said.
“There has never been so much talk about religion in France as in the last six months,” Archbishop Simon added.
Legislation to ban the use of the Muslim headscarf and ostensible religious signs in public schools has been one of the key topics of this debate. Another issue under discussion is the introduction of the “religious factor” in schools, the archbishop explained.
“If they talk about it, it’s because deep down there are profound issues,” he added.
Archbishop Simon is the author of several books, including “Towards a Pagan France?”