Record baptisms – France has something going for it


France has experienced a remarkable surge in baptisms, with over 12,000 individuals baptised during this year’s Easter Vigil, reflecting a long-term upward trend.

Despite ongoing discussions about rising secularism, the French Catholic Church has witnessed a steady increase in adult baptisms over the past decade as revealed in a French Bishops’ Conference report.

Among the newly baptised were 7,135 adults, with 36 percent aged between 18 and 25, and 5,000 people aged between 11 and 17.

Olivier Leborgne, Bishop of Arras, described it as a “movement of bewildering proportions”.

He suggested that individuals turn to the Church for spiritual solace amidst today’s disoriented world.

Vincent Breynaert, head of the Office for Youth Pastoral Care and Vocations, highlighted the phenomenon’s broad reach, extending beyond urban centres to working-class towns and rural areas.

“These young people are not primarily an expression of a search for identity, but of a genuine spiritual thirst and a search for meaning in a secularised society.

“Many cite testimonies of faith on the internet as motivation, others the beauty of the liturgy or the calming silence in a church” Breynaert added.

Influence of grandparents

However, Breynaert emphasises that some young people also have some catching up to do.

“They regret their parents’ decision not to have them baptised” says the youth pastor.

For others, the testimony of their grandparents is crucial – “especially the simplicity with which they speak of God”.

Pope Francis had previously expressed similar thoughts in 2019 when he said that grandparents make a decisive contribution to their religious upbringing.

Béatrice Schenckery, head of a catechumenate team in Evreux in Normandy, also confirms the value of grandparents on the path to faith. She said many catechumens have told her that they learnt to pray from their grandparents.

Yet the significant rise in baptisms among young people prompted questions about the Church’s approach in France.

Contrary to other European countries where church attendance declined after confirmation, the French Church experienced a reversal.

Bishop Leborgne and Breynaert attributed this to increased programmes for youth by dioceses and contributions from Catholic movements like scouts and charismatic communities.

Breynaert acknowledged the challenge of integrating new believers into their families, schools and parishes.

“Their journey and their decision to become Christians are a challenge for their families and their friends at school. But they are also a challenge for the youth ministry and the parishes which have to prepare for their reception and integration.

“But it won’t stop there because we already know that the number of young people who will be baptised in 2025 “will undoubtedly be higher”.




CathNews New Zealand

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