Beside the debate



The last thing the Church needs these days is to get caught up in bad polemics. No one disputes that the president of the French Bishops’ Conference showed clumsiness last week on the secrecy of confession. Bishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort himself implicitly recognized this, considering it useful to clarify his words a few hours later, in a press release. “Invited” by the Minister of the Interior, the Archbishop of Reims was able to re-explain his position: according to him there is no reason to oppose on this subject “law of God” and “law of the Republic », Since both go in the same direction. Gérald Darmanin does not appear on this line. He believes that priests “Must denounce” crimes of which they are aware. His words deserve to be clarified and will fuel a legal-theological debate which has only just begun.

The media incident is revealing of the traps into which our country is too easily drawn into, at the risk of missing out on the essential. First, in the fight against abuse, questioning the secrecy of confession is a sensitive but not central matter. Second, the question of the moment is obviously not that of the relationship between Church and State. The parallelism of forms that some establish with other faiths is not only ridiculous, it is irrelevant. It has been a long time since, in their overwhelming majority, Catholics made the principle of secularism their own. The priority for the Church of France is to put an end to child crime in its ranks. The forces of inertia are sufficiently important within the institution not to lose energy in controversies of another age.

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