SCENES AT PETAIN REQUEIM
MGR. FELTIN, Archbishop of Paris, broke his silence last week to answer the abuse hurled at him by the French Left-Wing press for his decision to go ahead with the Requiem Mass in Notre Dame for the repose of the soul of the late Marshal Petain.
A statement issued by Mgr. Feltin said : At the request of the family and friends of Marshal Petain,. a Mass is to be celebrated in Notre Dame. The Archbishop was invited to attend. The Church has never refused a Mass asked for by the family and friends of a dead man, but such a Mass is not celebrated in honour of the deceased.
" It is a collective prayer addressed to God to Obtain pardon for the sins which the deceased may have committed during his life.
" The Archbishop could not refuse the invitation given, on condition that there would be no speech or sermon beyond the liturgical prayers and that there should be no demonstration either inside or outside the church,
5,000 at Mass
" In taking part in the prayer of other Catholics inside his own cathedral, for the repose of the soul of the deceased, the Archbishop considers that he is merely fulfilling a spiritual duty, above all partisan thoughts.
" lie regrets that considerations of quite a different order threaten to disturb the tranquillity of prayer which must always remain alien to any hidden political motive."
Mgr. Felon's dignified and calm reply was in striking contrast to the earlier denunciations of his actions in Socialist and other newspapers.
More than 5,000 people filled Notre Dame last Saturday for the Requiem Mass, which was celebrated by Mgr. Feltin himself. Outside. steel-helmeted police cordoned off the square as a crowd of demonstrators — some of them carrying wartime Resistance flagsapproached.
After Mass, most of the congregation left the Cathedral quietly and were unmolested. The police intervened only when a party of demonstrators moved forward towards the doors, shouting " Petain. assassin."
Then the square was cleared and the crowd gradually pushed hack to the bridges leading across the Seine to the Left Bank.
A minor scuffle developed, in which two policemen were injured and half a dosen demonstrators arrested.
Marshal Petain died on July 23 this year in the fortress of Ile d'Yeu off the coast of Brittany.