‘Eldest daughter of the Church’ losing its faith?

Thanks to the American Papist, I came across this post on “The Anglo-Catholic,” translating the summary of a study done by La Croix about the “de-Christianization” of France. Father Anthony Chadwick has the grim numbers:

  • Whilst, in 1965, 81% of the French declared themselves as Catholics, they were no more than 64% in 2009.
  • More serious: whilst 27% of the French went to Mass once a week or more in 1965, they are no more than 4.5% in 2009.
  • At a doctrinal level, generally, it’s a catastrophe: 63% of practicing Catholics think all religions are the same; 75% ask for an “aggiornamento” of the Church on contraception and even 68% for abortion.
  • As for communion with the Roman Pontiff, the situation is no better: only 27% of practicing Catholics consider that Benedict XVI “rather well” defends “the values of Catholicism” (personally, I don’t even understand the question, but that doesn’t matter) when 34% think he defends them “rather badly”.

This looks similar to the trend here in the States, though obviously much further advanced. It also puts my post from last week — about the parishioners in Thiberville who booed their bishop — in an interesting light: If you see yourself as one of the last remaining enclaves of faithful Catholicism in the country, you might react pretty drastically to any perceived threats to your existence.

That story and this study raise the question about the bishops’ responsibility in this mess (Father Chadwick seems to think it’s significant). Obviously, they can’t be blamed for the secularization of the culture — but, at the very least, those parishioners in Thiberville see their bishop as a hindrance, rather than a help, in fighting that tide.

In an interesting development there, Father Chadwick also reports that Bishop Nourrichard has backed down from his previous threat to remove Thiberville’s pastor. The decision came after a meeting with France’s new nuncio — Archbishop Luigi Ventura, formerly the nuncio of Canada, and much beloved there. Some are looking to Ventura as a sign of hope for the future of the Church in France; it’ll be interesting to follow the developments…

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Speaking of the American Papist, we have to congratulate him on his recent move to CatholicVoteAction.org. Both AmPapist and CatholicVote have done great work for the Church, and they seem to be a natural fit to team up together. Be sure to check out Peters’ new digs on the CVA Web site. 



Margaret Cabaniss is the former managing editor of Crisis Magazine. She joined Crisis in 2002 after graduating from the University of the South with a degree in English Literature and currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She now blogs at SlowMama.com.

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