Ok, so the article's title is actually "Sarkozy and Secularism", but I thought my "editing" of the title made the point a little more clear. Finally, a French president who sees the loss of a Christian culture in Europe as a dire tragedy!
This, along with statements by Pope Benedict XVI and Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna, will hopefully bring about a Christian renaissance in European culture that would embrace both Eastern and Western Europe. Grant it, O Lord!
Vive le Sarkozy!!!!
Here's the article:
A few years ago, I was in the middle of giving a lecture in Paris about religious persecution and martyrdom during the twentieth century when a woman stood up and shouted, “The French state has been repressing and killing Christians ever since the Revolution—and it has to stop!” Her outburst had more to do with her own pent up frustration than anything in particular that I was saying, but it immediately struck me that she had given voice to a feeling of religious disenfranchisement in France that we almost never hear about. Nicolas Sarkozy did not exactly express the same frustration when he went to Rome on December 20, but when the president of the French Republic makes an extended plea for the public affirmation of the value of faith in a high-profile venue, some equally unexpected cri de coeur has just come over the European horizon.
A few French friends have tried to convince me that there was nothing new in Sarkozy’s speech at the Palace of St. John Lateran, where he was installed as an honorary canon, which he had not already said in his 2005 book, La République, les religions, et l’esperance. Others tell me that if he even succeeds in half of what he wants to do, it will be virtually a nouveau regime in France. My reaction falls somewhere in between. When I read Sarkozy’s book last year, I was struck by two things: his belief that the French have to learn to talk about religion in public again and his willingness even to raise questions about the socialist inspired antireligious laws of 1905 that abolished some religious orders and confiscated religious property. He backed off a bit from the second point in his speech at the Lateran Palace. (It’s very clear and winsomely delivered, so even if your French is modest, you may want to listen to it yourself. But his position is still strong beyond all expectation.
Earlier the same day, Sarkozy met for twenty-five minutes with Benedict XVI and the Holy See’s secretary of state. One of the first things he said to them was that the Church in France has “to be more courageous” in intervening publicly because the French Republic has need of people of faith. This was already quite daring, but he did not stop there. Remarkably, in both events, Sarkozy openly expressed his agreement with the pope’s view that a Europe without faith is a Europe without hope—and maybe without a future. And, perhaps even more notably, he made a powerful case that the present and future depend on a more inclusive embrace of the past.
Read the rest here