Monday, September 27, 2010

Christianity and France

A brief historical sketch.
France continued to be a deeply religious nation until the revolution of 1789. Undergirded by the ideas of the Enlightenment, the French revolution represented a concerted and deliberate attempt to dechristianize the nation, including:
  • The implementation of a new calendar to replace the Christian one. The calendar, which was adopted in 1793 and used for the next 12 years, employed a ten day week (in a 10 day week, no one could ever know which day was Sunday) and had 1792 (the year Louis XVI was taken into custody) as year 1. This was known as ‘the year of liberty.’
  • The dispossession, deportation and brutal martyrdom of thousands of clergy
  • Christians being denied freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of thought if it contravened the secular humanist ideology of the revolution.The criminalization of all religious education
  • The elimination of all Christian symbols from the public sphere, including removing the word ‘saint’ from street names and destroying or defacing churches and religious monuments
  • The replacing of Christian holidays and symbols with civic and revolutionary cults like the ‘Cult of Reason’ and ‘Cult of the Supreme Being.’ A statue to the goddess Reason was even erected and worshiped in Notre Dame Cathedral on 10 November 1793.
In these and many other ways, the French revolution tried to create a new man through civic regeneration. French society has never fully recovered from the impact of this paradigm shift and all of the successive French government have born the mark of the revolution upon them, including an institutionalized antipathy to the Christian faith.


Julygirl said...

The roots of 20th Century Marxism and Communism can be traced to this tragic event.....and we are witnesses to how that turned out!

Brantigny said...

I still have more hope in French Christianity (read Catholic)than I do in American Christianity (read Priotestant) After all the persecution the faith still remains, albeit scarred.

tubbs said...

The Church has no one to blame but herself for the loss of the French People.
Judas Iscariot is in (relatively)comfortable, air-conditioned surroundings compared to so much of the French clergy from Pepin's time forward.

May said...

"In these and many other ways, the French revolution tried to create a new man..."

As I recall, Albert I, King of the Belgians made the same point about "1789" in his World War I diaries. He also noted that such efforts were doomed to failure because the problems people face are always the same: material interests that unite or divide them, moral and religious issues, and so on.

lara77 said...

I am sure everyone knew in France by the end of our American Revolution that reforms were badly needed in France. What was so tragic for France was the fact that radical anti clerical and anti monarchical factions took over. The moderates were ostracized and then murdered. Now look at France's history from 1789; nothing but violence, murders, violent overthrows,destruction and desecration. And now France seems to go out of her way to placate the growing Muslim presence. I am concerned for the future of France whose most glorious architecture proclaims the beauty and glory of Christian,monarchical France.

Anonymous said...

This was the protocol followed by the communists in USSR as well, of course, and Fr Barron gives an excellent comparison of that era with the contemporary "new" atheists like Christopher Hitchens. Check out this short video from Fr Barron: