French Churches Vandalized: What is behind the Trend?

France is one of the formerly Christian countries with the lowest Mass attendance. So what is behind the idea of attacking nearly empty Churches? Mathieu Bock Cöté in Le Figaro, shares some clues.

Newsroom (16/01/2022 2:31 PM, Gaudium Press) Immediately following Christmas, a wave of anti-christian attacks has returned to France. Since the beginning of 2022, there have been at least 10 cases of vandalism against Catholic Churches.

The trend shows a growing aggressiveness followed by apologetic statements from the authorities, deploring, declaring the attacks ‘unacceptable‘—promises of heightened security sound like pre-recorded messages rather than genuine intentions to prevent the issue. 

“Anti-Christian vandalism is frequent in France,” states Mathieu Bock-Côté this Friday in Le Figaro. He does not say “it is already frequent in France,” but rather, it is frequent. As if, by now, it had an almost traditional status.

The writer notes that the attacks are systematic and precise. He recalls, for instance, the Islamic-themed aggression during the Immaculate Conception in Nanterre last December. The participants, most of them elderly people and children, heard the aggressors’ warnings: “you are no longer in your house.” In other words, Muslims were yelling at Catholics that this was no longer their land. In essence, they had already conquered it, giving themselves “the right to expel the former inhabitants and trample on their symbols,” says Bock Côté. According to the aggressors, Catholics would rather belong to a defeated religion.

Those who know a little bit of history may realize the analogies. The incident looks like a re-run show, repeated a thousand times along the story of the human race. Yet, unfortunately, some prefer to ignore reality. Among other reasons, this ‘conquest’ takes place gradually, silently, and has the ‘conquered’ tacit consent. Ignoring reality allows them to hold onto self-indulgence. Not reacting becomes a comfortable option. A suicidal option.

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Le Figaro points out the difference in the State’s response regarding attacks on Catholics and attacks on those of other creeds: the observer may verify two weights and two measures. There would be two types of victims, two categories of victims, so to say: the legitimate and the illegitimate. Those belonging to minorities now suddenly turned into a sudden majority would be the ‘legitimate’ People. Belonging to groups once ‘dominant’ (such as Catholics) would -by now- be considered  ‘illegitimate.” A keen observer may discern nothing but shameful double standards.

What to think about this new reality, where churches will now require permanent surveillance? Although not intrinsically evil, this safety measure verifies a sad reality and creates a dangerous ‘new normal.’ Little by little, minds warm to the idea that we not only need fighting insecurity; we need to ‘appease‘ contemporary society. Or, as the Soviets used to say, ‘normalize‘ it.

Conversely, France is one of the formerly Christian countries with the lowest Mass attendance. So what is behind the idea of attacking nearly empty Churches? 

The idea behind it is rather clever. Churches represent a dangerous past, a structure of a society that has to be removed, even eradicated from memory. 

But beware: even in a secularized France, embers and remnants may still be rekindled and awakened. And those still abound. Those Godfreys of Bouillon who, in times past, crossed half a world to reconquer the Holy Sepulcre may still live on. In surprising and unexpected ways, the gloomy and somewhat sad Gauls of today, strolling around in shorts and T-shirts on the Champs-Elysées and in the Bois de Boulogne, may still awake. And revive. 

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By Saul Castiblanco

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