The Return of Religion Reawakes Secularism: Catholics Remain Skeptical of the President’s Sincerity

Jean-Pierre Denis, director of the weekly Christian publication La Vie (Life) suggests that France has not been civilized on the question of religion for a great deal of time and questions whether Nicolas Sarkozy has realized this point. Denis notes that, I sense that anti-Christian positions are on the rise and are much more virulent than a couple of years ago and I see a new benevolent phenomenon of curiosity toward religion born in reaction to this. The two phenomena coexist. From this perspective, the French situation is completely novel. Patrick Jacquin, the rector at the Notre Dame de Paris, also points out a rise in attendance from 40 million in 2005 to 45 million in 2007. The question remains to whom Sarkozy is addressing when he claims for the Christian roots in France or the Civilizing heritage of religion in secular France while being relatively liberal in his own personal life and on his positions on abortion, euthanasia and bioethics. In any case, in his recent actions and statements, the president has reopened interest in the secular/religion debate in the country.