France should “raise the level” in terms of secularism, because religions aren’t sub-cultures, says Pope Francis in a book-interview with French researcher Dominique Wolton, of which Le Figaro Magazine published excerpts on September 1, 2017.
The work “Pope Francis: Meetings with Dominique Wolton: Politics and Society” (Editions de L’Observatoire), which will come out in bookstores in France on September 6, is the fruit of a dozen meetings between the Pope and the 70-year-old intellectual and sociologist.
In it, the Pontiff addresses a large array of subjects, among them secularism. The secular State is something healthy. There is a healthy secularism. Jesus said it, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
On this subject, he recalled France’s position: “I believe that in certain countries, such as France, this secularism has a very strong coloration inherited from the Enlightenment, which constructed an imaginary collective in which religions are seen as sub-cultures. I believe that France – it’s my personal opinion, not the official one of the Church – should ‘raise” a bit the level of secularism, in the sense that it should say that religions are also part of the culture.”
The Enlightenment is too heavy in the French heritage, says the Holy Father, who pleads for a State “open to transcendence.” “When it is said that it’s not necessary to wear visible crosses around the neck or that women must not wear this or that, it’s stupid,” he stresses, because “both attitudes represent a culture.”
“One wears a cross, another wears something else, the Rabbi wears his kippa and the Pope wears the skullcap! He exclaims . . . Here is healthy secularism!”