bishops play it safe

bishops play it safe

Two years ago, in Italy, during the election of Giorgia Meloni, the country’s Catholic bishops did not give voting instructions, even in the face of danger from the far right. They then preferred to rely on cautious openness towards the candidate, a Catholic, to counter her much more ideological rival, Matteo Salvini, of the Northern League. A way of denouncing the political recovery of Salvini’s Catholic faith in his populist speeches.

“The Church does not want politicians who claim to be “super-Christians”, analyzed the political scientist Olivier Roy, but “normal” Catholics. Thus, she can reserve the masterful word on what it means to be Catholic. »

Does this also play a role in France, facing the agnostic Jordan Bardella supported by a non-practicing Catholic Marine Le Pen, who carefully avoids religious references, unlike her father?

An almost silent episcopate

Of the twenty bishops solicited by Pilgrim, no one wanted to express themselves in our columns on the subject. We are a long way from the speeches of their predecessors who, between 1985 and 2002, directly denounced the theses of the National Front. According to Mgr Olivier Leborgne, we must see this as a collateral effect of the scandals that the dioceses have gone through.

But in the face of hateful speech against migrants, can the Bishop of Arras, on the front line of the Calais drama, remain silent? Evoking the start of Mgr Jules Saliège in 1942, who had dared to denounce from the pulpit the deportation of Jewish populations, he wonders if the moment will arise when it will still be “necessary to have a clear word” to no longer counter opinions but reprehensible acts.

In the diocese of Aude, Mgr Bruno Valentin is one of the rare prelates to have written a pastoral text, published on June 17, to promote the discernment of his faithful. He denounces in particular the use of fear in everyone’s arguments, but also the idealization of the candidates, before inviting a responsible, lucid, reasonable and compassionate vote.

In a statement made public on June 20, the permanent council of the Conference of Bishops of France, for its part, encourages Catholics not to give up showing themselves to be “peacemakers”, whatever the result of the upcoming elections. Each believer has his own interpretation.

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