Sparks fly: President Emmanuel Macron links church and state

French President Emmanuel Macron says he wants to repair church-state relations.

His ambition has caused a furore in France, as he is seen to be tampering with France’s secular tradition.

The Church and State have been legally separated since 1905, following a groundswell of change that began with the French Revolution in 1789 and continued during the 19th century.

Macron told a meeting of bishops he hoped to repair relations with the Church through a “dialogue of truth”.

“We intuitively share the feeling that the bond between the Church and the state has been damaged, and that both you and I need to repair it.

“Secularism is not meant to deny the spiritual in the name of the temporal, nor to uproot from our society the sacred element which nourishes so many of our fellow citizens.”

He said a president of the French republic “who takes no interest in the Church and its Catholics would be failing in his duty”.

His views have been met with opposition from former socialist prime minister Manuel Valls who backed Macron for president in 2017, tweeting “secularism is France”.

Socialist Party leader Olivier Faure tweeted: “Secularism is the jewel in our crown. That is what a president of the republic should be defending,”.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the left-wing France Insoumise, said Macron’s remarks were “irresponsible.”

“Macron in full-on metaphysical delirium. Outrageous. One expects a president, one gets a little priest,” he tweeted.

Some right-wing leaders are accusing Macron of pandering to conservative voters.

“If it’s about acknowledging the Christian heritage of our civilisation, that’s a historical and cultural fact. If it’s actually a strategy for winning back voters, that’s something else,” Republican Bruno Retailleau says.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called his comments the start of an attack on strict secularism enshrined by the 1905 law. She says it hints it would give “religious authorities of all stripes” more influence in French society.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, who is responsible for government relations with religious groups, supports Macron’s views.

In his opinion, Macron’s remarks reflect the need for greater spiritual awareness.


News category: World.

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