Where have the pro-life Catholics gone?

Where have the pro-life Catholics gone?

Dressed in black, with a dark face, a white rose in her hand, Blandine remains speechless. A few meters from her, the deputies and senators gathered in Congress at Versailles have just ratified, en masse, the entry of abortion into the Constitution. “780 votes for, 72 against” explains, from a platform set up for the occasion, Nicolas Tardy-Joubert, president of the March for Life. “How could we let such a thing happen?” blurted the fifty-year-old. A heavy silence reigns over the small assembly. Some involved in associations such as Alliance Vita, the AFC or the March for Life, all are Catholics, most of them practicing. They claim to be “defenders of life” and struggle to make themselves heard. Only a few hundred of them took to the streets of Versailles this Monday evening.

For the others, the fight was lost in advance. “What’s the point? asks tiredly Damien, a young father from Lyon, we are powerless.” It must be said that resisting the “steamroller” of a revision of the Constitution seemed impossible for at least two reasons: the very technical legislative aspect which, moreover, does not lead to the acquisition of a new right; the fear of finding oneself trapped by a subject – access to abortion – which is politically incorrect.

A patent resignation

The memory of the untransformed attempt at the Manif pour tous in 2013 also remains very present. Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, not all from conservative circles, took to the streets to oppose homosexual marriage. “We thought we could change the course of history. We spent all our energy there, remembers Thérèse , sixty-year-old. It was a slap in the face.” There remains the bitter taste of failure. “The Manif pour tous led to a certain disillusionment among the Catholics who participated in it, analyzes the sociologist Josselin Tricou. The oldest remembered the success of the mobilizations for free schools, thirty years earlier, convinced that this time- This again was going to work. The youngest were unaware of the real conditions in which street demonstrations were received by those in power, due to lack of practice. They all left with a gun in their heads.”

Added to the feeling of a missed opportunity was disappointment in the face of a commitment to the political field by the Catholic authorities, which was considered timid. Some go so far as to speak of “cowardice”. It is true that the call to fasting and prayer, relayed by the Conference of Bishops on March 4, did not spread until late. “I was leaving the table when I learned that the bishops were calling for people to fast,” rages a Parisian forty-something.

A dozen bishops, following their own sensitivity, expressed their “sadness”. But behind these scattered voices, “we clearly felt the Church’s desire not to make too much noise”, regrets Marine, a mother. For the sociologist, the sexual abuse crisis explains this minimal involvement: “Catholics feel much less legitimate in giving lessons to the Republic regarding matters relating to gender, sexuality and child protection.”

The land is not neglected however. “Let us not forget that for many years, Catholics have been helping pregnant women in difficulty, in associations for example,” reminds the Pilgrim Mgr Ulrich, Archbishop of Paris, who disputes the assertion of a lack of mobilization Christians.

For Blandine, “the weapons of Christians are commitment and prayer. It is by investing in social actions in the service of life that we will be able to touch hearts.”

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