May 11, 2006


In a Very Secular France, Nicolas Sarkozy Is Breaking a Taboo: In a book, the candidate for the presidency of the French republic acknowledges the public role of religion. And the Church is paying attention, in Italy and Rome, too (Sandro Magister, 5/11/06, Chiesa)

[T]he most startling indication of a new way of looking at religious matters concerns France, the most secularized country in Catholic Europe. It is a book entitled “La République, les religions, l’espérance [The Republic, the Religions, and Hope],” first issued in France and recently published in Italy. The author is Nicolas Sarkozy, the politician whom many predict will win the 2007 French presidential election.

The presentation of the book that appears on the rear cover summarizes as follows the ways in which its contents are fresh and new:

“With this book, Nicolas Sarkozy is confronting one of the taboos of French society: the place of religion in the République. Sarkozy wants to create an open and serene secularism, in which each person can live out his own vision of hope and participate in building up democratic society. He speaks of his faith, of his encounters with spiritual figures who have influenced him, of the convictions he wants to pass on to his children. The book is a great contribution to the reflection on the founding values of the République and on the future of secularism in France.” [...]

[S]arkozy had placed at the opening of the book the following excerpt from a masterwork of liberal Catholicism, “Democracy in America” by Alexis de Tocqueville, which was published in France in 1835 after he returned from a voyage to the United States:

“There are persons in France who see in the République a permanent and tranquil state, a necessary end toward which ideas and customs guide the modern societies each day, and who sincerely desire to help men to become free. But when they attack religious beliefs, they are following their passions, not their interests. Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot. Religion is much more necessary for the République that they proclaim than for the monarchy that they attack, and it is more so for democratic republics than for any other.”

Much of the failure of the French model traces directly to viewng the State as an end rather than a means.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 11, 2006 8:14 AM

Hey - it worked for W.

Posted by: Sandy P at May 11, 2006 10:56 AM