A Book Aimed at French Catholics Who Feel Victimized

Journalist Tries to Put Woes in Perspective

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PARIS, JAN. 16, 2002 (Zenit.org).- European Catholics are in danger of seeing themselves too much as victims, says a former French newspaper editor.



Noel Copin, former director of La Croix, the French Catholic newspaper, spells out his ideas in a new book, "Lettre Ouverte aux Chrétiens Qui Ont Le Blues" (Open Letter to Christians Feeling the Blues), published by Désclée de Brouwer.

In his new work, Copin gives a response to a scenario painted by Réné Rémond, a leading Catholic intellectual. Rémond, in his best seller "Christianity Under Accusation," contends that the faithful today, especially in France, are persecuted by the media.

That argument is not good enough for Noel Copin, however. In his book he replies to those who have twisted the meaning of Rémond´s work by a superficial reading -- and those who are tempted to consider themselves victims.

According to Copin, Catholics who feel buffeted are exaggerating. They feel rejected, like foreigners in their own country. But are these reactions commensurate with the facts?

Copin admits that in the space of a few months a number of social problems in France have alarmed Catholics more than ever before. There was the juridical equality of de facto unions with marriage. Then there was the "Perruche sentence," which recognized the right of a child "not to be born," imposing indemnification for the birth of a handicapped child.

The book thus reveals that the secular world, which until recently was inspired by a certain Christian humanism, is increasingly estranged from the values advocated by Catholics.

And this is the real reason for Catholics´ depression, Copin contends.

"You think you have every reason to lament the hostility of society," Copin writes. "However, the criticism of present society, contrasted with the virulent anti-clericalism that France experienced at the beginning of the 20th century," seems minor by comparison. "Is not the essential problem one of indifference?" he asks.

He urges Catholics not to fall prey to false and increasingly banal affirmations such as "No one would have dared do such things to Jews or Muslims."

"Do you really think that the Jewish and Muslim religions are treated better than Catholicism?" he asks. "Ask a Muslim what picture the French media paints of his fellow-faithful. And if you were Jews, would you easily accept being identified with Sharon or with the Jewish settlers?"

In a word, the culture of victimization cannot generate anything good, Copin concludes.