Vsevolod Chaplin: ‘Our nearest descendants will have to observe spiritual ruins of the former great culture’
Orthodox blogger about spiritual suicide of Europe
France has not left information agendas in recent months. Not the best news is coming from this country: refugees, terrorist attacks, Burkini ban in cities, a conflict in Corsica and a decision of authorities to demolish hundreds of churches. A columnist of Realnoe Vremya Protoiereus Vsevolod Chaplin thinks the stake of elites on secularism is the cause of many misfortunes of the European state. In his column especially written for our newspaper, he laments the reduction of the amount of Catholic priests in France and pressure of authorities on religion.
From terrorist attacks to ban on Muslim swimsuit
Terrorist attacks take place in France with a frightening frequency, in spite of the fact all possible safety measures were obviously taken and law enforcement authorities are familiar with the names of terrorists. It is not possible to follow, listen and scan everybody, especially if we mean thousands of people who make up the social base of terror. It indicates it is necessary to pay attention to natives of the country and think about what is wrong in the state and public structure that appeared due to the 'great' but actually bloody and cruel French Revolution in 1789-1799.
Some politicians are trying to put the issue bluntly. So, Nicolas Sarkozy said: 'We must be ruthless. The legal quibbling, precautions, pretexts to incomplete action are not eligible. <…> We can't spend time. We are at war, and there is no choice but to lead and win. And Marion Maréchal-Le Pen echoed: 'They kill our children, murdering our policemen and slaughter our priests. Wake up!'
But these rude statements have not reached the general mood of the 'anti-terrorist' reaction of the French elite yet. Generally speaking, it means the fewer religion – the fewer problems. Many pieces about the ban on wearing Muslim swimsuit called burkini in Corsica and Cannes have been written in recent days. For instance, it is said in the order the Mayor of Cannes that a swimsuit must comply with 'principles of secularism' and 'beachwear which ostentatiously displays religious affiliation, when France and places of worship are currently the target of terrorist attacks, is liable to create risks of disrupting public order'.
Well, principles of secularism are of paramount importance, according to which the freedom to demonstrate a religious affiliation must be restricted. By the way, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that 'everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion <…> in public or private'. However, loyalty to 'republican principles', including laïcité – secularism – is definitely more important for French elites.
However, the problem is that it is not easy to mobilise the society around a culture of the beach semi-nude culture that has no alternative or around consumption on instructions during a war that the former France President is bluntly speaking about. Actually, it is impossible. Even ideas that were born 150 years ago in secret communities are not able to raise the country. At the same time these ideas were fed by a negative energy when it was necessary to get rid of the monarchy. But now, psychologically, they are a rare thing, and people won't go to die for its sake but they won't refuse everyday comfort.
The civilisation of Charlie Hebdo is unsustainable. Either France will become militant again and refuse rose-coloured spectacles of pacifism forever and terror of a 'police state' or will be substituted by another more energetic civilisation. Possibly to remember two-century-old great times and mobilise the society basing on faith is the only chance. I think a significant part of French Muslims will understand it, especially if they are given the right to live according to their faith in exchange for unconditional loyalty to the religious and social choice of the national majority. But secular elites will have to leave big politics – anyway, they have no future.
Fated Catholic priests
Unfortunately, it all leads to slow suicide of the population that is losing its faith. In France, it is planned to demolish 2,800 Catholic churches where people don't go. The number of priests has reduced almost by a half within 10 years – from 24,251 to 13,822. And the young spirituality comes from African and Asian countries more often — the pool of labour in Poland and other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, by means of which French Catholic eparchies survived in the 90s, stopped working. For instance, African-born Auguste Moanda became the killed 80-year old priest Jacques Hamel's successor.
Bright figures of the French Archdiocese — for instance, Archbishop of Lyon Philippe Barbarin is a charismatic intellectual who inspired people to go outside and protest against the recognition of same-sex marriages — are exposed to public demonisation. So, Barbarin was accused of not reporting his suspicions of paedophilia that referred to one of the local priests immediately. No one needs such suspicions in the groups that serve as a social base of terror — the authorities almost don't care about it.
I've heard about fate in many talks to the French Catholic Spirituality in recent ten years. These people were powerless against the secular hate campaign. Only sometimes we hear shy protests against this campaign in Europe. The head of the Italian Catholic Archdiocese Angelo Bagnasco has said recently: 'While the persecution of the 'classic', which we know from ancient history, they are now clothed in more subtle, but no less violent forms – legal, but not fair… <…> 'continent of the laws' exposes Christianity all the more discrimination. <…> Today in the name of such values as equality, tolerance and the right, trying to push Christianity to the margins of social life and create a world order, where God has no place where the differences, on the one hand, extol, and on the other unicidade'. The statement is true, only one thing is needed — to urge people to act. To urge like apostles, prophets and like very Joan of Arc.
Is France, 'a favourite daughter of the Catholic Church in the old days' ready for such a change of its historical vector? No more, I'm afraid. It means our nearest descendants will have to observe spiritual ruins of the former great culture with respect and sadness.