French Catholics Wake Up to Islamist Threat, Despite Their Bishops

By John Zmirak Published on January 5, 2017

The searing novel Submission by Michel Houellebecq is a profane but powerful snapshot of the likely near-future of Europe: Mainstream political parties going through the motions of trying to govern spiritually exhausted and nearly childless Western countries, whose only growing demographic consists of Islamists seeking sharia. In the course of the novel, the godless and bloodless socialists finally give way to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose sole opponent is the angry, right-wing National Front.

Until now, the only real opposition to the Islamic colonization of France has found its home in that party, whose founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had dabbled in anti-Semitism. While the party’s current leader, his daughter Marine, has firmly rebuked extremists within its ranks, that party still carries for millions of Catholic voters in France a whiff of neo-paganism, and the ultra-nationalism which in the past led right-wing ideologues like Charles Maurras to call themselves “Catholic atheists.” In other words, they didn’t believe in God, but considered Catholicism a part of the French culture worth fighting to preserve.

Church Leaders Clash with the National Front

Such  attitudes, real or suspected, repelled the believing Catholics who still make up a fair swathe of the potential conservative vote in France. It didn’t help that French bishops marched well in advance of Pope Francis in discarding the church’s balanced teaching on immigration, for a reckless open-borders stance that helped invite 2016’s wave of Syrian Muslim colonists.

French bishops marched well in advance of Pope Francis in discarding the church’s balanced teaching on immigration, for a reckless open-borders stance.

The open hostility between France’s pastors and the National Front was on full display this week, as The Tablet (U.K.) reports:

Three leaders of France’s far-right Front National (FN) have used post-Christmas interviews on leading radio stations to criticise French bishops for urging Catholics to support refugees. They argue that the clergy should focus on filling up their churches rather than interfering in politics.

FN vice-president Louis Aliot said a “large majority of bishops” had “spit in the face” of the party by “systematically denigrating the FN, its leaders and its policies.”

Gilbert Collard, one of the Front’s two MPs in the National Assembly, said the Church was “disconnected from reality — in the name of welcoming others, they reject us.”

Party secretary general Nicolas Bay denied the interviews were a “declaration of war” but said the Front “didn’t need to hear any lessons from the clergy about migration.”

A New Choice for Faithful Frenchmen

However, French voters concerned about the overwhelming influx of sharia-believing Islamists into their country now have another option. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack and the Bataclan massacre, a conservative movement has arisen with no links to the old, extremist right, with solid Christian credentials. Sens Commun (Common Sense) is a pro-life, pro-family Catholic grass roots group that spans the country, and its members are willing to question the wisdom of their bishops on crucial issues of border control and national identity.

The leading rival Marine Le Pen faces on the right is François Fillon, who has ties to Sens Commun. As The Wall Street Journal reports:

In France, the strict separation between personal faith and public life, known as laïcité, is a pillar of national identity. However, a confluence of events — from the legalization of gay marriage to the more recent string of Islamist terror attacks — has many conservative voters looking to the country’s Christian heritage as a bulwark.

Mr. Fillon’s candidacy is seizing on that impulse. In publicly embracing his faith, the 62-year-old is tapping a wellspring of Catholic voters who have begun coalescing into a potentially decisive voting bloc.

His performance during the country’s first-ever conservative primaries provided the clearest sign yet of the revived Catholic vote.

The Catholic vote is shaping up to play an unusually prominent role in the general election in May, when polls predict Mr. Fillon will face-off against Marine Le Pen , leader of the far-right anti-immigrant and anti-euro National Front party.

Many conservative Catholics shifted to the National Front during recent regional elections, feeling more at home with its call for revived nationalism than with the pro-EU principles — free movement of people and goods — espoused by other parties.

A quarter of self-described practicing Catholics voted for the National Front in December 2015 regional elections, up from 16% in local races in March of that year, according to polling firm IFOP.

Mr. Fillon’s Catholicism reassures voters who want to show support for French traditions. “The National Front has made a lot of progress with this group,” said Jerome Fourquet, director of IFOP. “They could come back to the center-right with Fillon.”

The rise of a Catholic vote in France is a measure of how deeply the continent has been shaken by a series of crises, from the arrival of migrant waves from the Middle East to the surge in political parties questioning the future of the European Union itself. …

[Fillon] voted against the gay-marriage bill and criticized the government for not doing more to protect Christian minorities in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, organizing a rally in June 2015 to support them.

“We are all Eastern Christians!” Mr. Fillon told the crowd.

Denial Across the Rhine

Meanwhile, in neighboring Germany Angela Merkel — the architect of the Syrian “refugee” invasion — was granted a prestigious Catholic humanitarian award by that country’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, specifically for her handling of Muslim immigration. However, in Austria, the prominent Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has recently questioned the wisdom of accepting so many Muslim immigrants, and even called for Europeans to give U.S. President-elect Donald Trump a second look, pointing out that Ronald Reagan was also widely dismissed when he took office.

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