Saturday, January 27, 2007

"France no longer a Catholic country"

SEE THE ARTICLE: France 'no longer a Catholic country':
Barely half the French population describe themselves as Catholic, according to a poll released yesterday, sparking a leading religious publication to declare France "no longer a Catholic country".

A poll published in Le Monde des Religions yesterday showed the number of self-declared French Catholics had dropped from 80 per cent in the early 1990s and 67 per cent in 2000 and to 51 per cent today.

The number of atheists has risen sharply to 31 per cent from 23 per cent in 1994.
The 'Eldest Daughter of the Church' has had problems with her Faith for centuries, though, with numerous problems within and without the Church.

The heresy of Gallicanism — the control of the Church in France by the government — appeared in that country as a logical outgrowth of Absolutism, where the French monarch centralized control of the State over his nobility. Bishops were drawn primarily from the aristocracy, appointed mainly for political and not religious reasons, and acted poorly because of this. Likewise the State would appoint titular abbots for the many large religious orders: these would get to keep the income generated by the monastery, while the actual monks would have to live off of what little money was left. Another common heresy in France — closely related to the others — was Jansenism, which is excessively rigorist and often downplays God's mercy and forgiveness; shades of Jansenism were still common into the 20th century and even exists in some areas today.

France generally did not handle the Reformation well, had massive heresy, and did not attempt true reform until it was too late. That the Protestant Huguenot problem was solved with the vinegar of massacre rather than with the honey of preaching the Gospel, did not do any good for the faith, and many became Catholic in name only. This should be contrasted with Spain, which reformed itself early and never had a Reformation, nor any need for a Counter-Reformation. The French monarchy's support of the Protestants during the Wars of the Reformation (for reasons of the State) harmed Christendom immensely.

Enlightenment thinking greatly affected France, which culminated in the complete takeover and elimination of the Church during the French Revolution. This included the murder of thousands of priests and religious, and the military elimination of the resisting Faithful, along with the creation of a new 'church of reason'. The restoration of the Church during the 19th century had mixed success, with both great holiness and also with a return to Jansenistic thinking in some quarters. The Liberal State again persecuted the Church, especially after 1905, and even today the State interferes much in the inner workings of the Church. The State-run schools are controlled by the socialists, as are many Church schools, so it is no surprise that children are never learning the Faith.

The hierarchy of the Church in France, for the most part, readily embraced the novelties promoted in the spirit of Vatican II, causing a devastation in the practice of the Faith. This "new way of doing church", with a horizontal emphasis on worldly works and a denial of sin, fits in quite well with France's socialistic governance. So as it happens, France's churches are nearly empty and have congregations of mainly old women (although this trend may have bottomed out). France's Bishops mainly oppose the revival of the traditional Latin Mass, which ironically attracts many of the young faithful, and have hinted at schism if a wider allowance of the traditional liturgy is granted by Rome.

Clearly, the Church in France needs greater freedom from the interference of the State, and it needs to promote the unity of the Church and to go back to the Gospel imperatives of serving God and loving neighbors.

Saint King Louis IX, pray for France!

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