(ZIR, The article in your
paper by Henri Rollet on the Algerian situation made me realise how little we British Catholics know about the Catholics of France.
We know about atheist bishops in the 18th century; of the enmity of the revolution towards the Church, and the many pious priests who sought refuge in Britain after the Civil Constitutions of 1793 and impressed Anglicans with their goodness; we know that Catholicism in France came in the 19th century to be identified with reaction and royalism, and nearly all the spokesmen of France were anti-Catholic; we know that some Catholic leaders were excommunicated; we know that the Pope at the beginning of this century persuaded the French Catholics to accept Republicanism; but we know that Catholics in France -were notoriously antiSemite and anti-Dreyfusard. Yet the Church could produce champions of justice like Picquart who exposed the forgeries in the Dreyfus case; and great generals like Petain and Foch.
But since the war Catholic ministers in France. have fought long unpopular colonial wars in lndo China and Algeria. We hear of appalling shortages of priests -no priests at all in some districts; only two to look after the vast Cathedral of Amiens. Yet great leaders of thought and life like de Foucald and Peguy have risen up from the Church. It seems that Catholicism in France is rootedly narrow and reactionary where it is little more than a tradition; but that when it is fully lived it produces great men; not to mention great saints like Th6rese of Lisieux.
Could you help to educate your fellow British Catholics with a series of articles on the Church and Catholics in France today; let us see the Church as it is; not only the parish of Colombes and the Abbe Pierre, hut also the priestless, Mass-less areas; the deserted Cathedrals and the savage fanatics who think nothing of using murder and torture to gain their ends, yet still claim the title of Catholic.
John Bate Pitkerro House, Broughty Ferry. Angus.
A large hook would be required rather than an article or two. It might well be commissioned by an imaginative publisher. EDITOR, "C.H."