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For those who love France, a very interesting article - broken up into small paragraphs with some bold added.

Hope, hope for France!

Vive la Vraie France!

France's Zombie Catholics have risen - and they're voting


Link: http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/12/01/fran...re-voting/.

Having decisively defeated several rivals in his party’s primary this past weekend, François Fillon will carry the standard for Les Républicains in France’s presidential election next spring. Competitors and commentators — indeed, many voters — were surprised by this outcome. Surprised because Fillon had long trailed in the polls; surprised because Fillon, a former prime minister, was long dismissed as the “eternal No. 2”; surprised because Fillon has promised, if elected, to starve the beast that the French fondly call l’état providence — the welfare state — a move that in France has not typically been a winning campaign strategy.

But surprised, too, because, as the rest of the country is now discovering, Fillon is Catholic. Very Catholic. So Catholic, at least to the secular left, that a headline in the newspaper Libération screamed: “Help, Jesus has returned!”

Fillon has never made any secret of his beliefs. He hails from the Vendée, the western region that was the site of a long and bloody resistance to the secular values, laws, and, ultimately, soldiers of revolutionary Paris. A lieu de mémoire, or site of memory, for French Catholics, the Vendée is famed for the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, where Fillon goes every year on retreat.

In his campaign book Faire (“To Make”), Fillon, known for his reticence, nevertheless recalls with deep emotion his Catholic schooling, explains how it has shaped his worldview, and affirms: “I was raised in this tradition, and I have kept this faith.” And, as it turns out, legions of Frenchmen and women who have not kept their faith will nonetheless turn out in droves for a politician who has.


These men and women are, in the controversial term coined three years ago by the sociologists Emmanuel Todd and Hervé Le Bras, les zombies catholiques of France. In their book Le mystère français, Todd and Le Bras tried to explain why, in a country where barely five citizens in 100 attend church, the weight of Catholicism is still evident.

From the millions of parents who took to the streets in the mid-1980s to protest the Socialist government’s effort to merge private (and overwhelmingly Catholic) schools with public schools to the millions who, 30 years later, took to the same streets to protest the new (but hardly different) Socialist government’s effort to legalize gay marriage, these armies of French “zombies” would have overwhelmed the likes of Brad Pitt, let alone government ministers.

But this is less World War Z than the newest chapter in the guerres franco-françaises — France’s long series of civil wars fought over the legacy of the French Revolution, which pit a secularist left against a traditionalist right.

Todd and Le Bras marvel over the persistence of Catholic habits and values in regions where Catholicism has more or less vanished as an institution.

“The most astonishing paradox,” they note, “is the rise of social movements shaped by a religion that has disappeared as a metaphysical belief.” Unable to resist the French weakness for paradox, Todd and Le Bras conclude: “Catholicism seems to have attained a kind of life after death. But since it is a question of a this-worldly life, we will define it as ‘zombie Catholicism.’”

Zombie Catholics share certain symptoms: Not only do they hail from regions where resistance was greatest to the French Revolution, but they also have taken advantage of the benefits that flowed from that seismic event. Highly educated and meritocratic, they also privilege a traditional ordering of professional and domestic duties between husbands and wives; strong attachment to social, community, and family activities; and a general wariness over the role of the state in private and community affairs, including “free schools” (Catholic private schools).

Fillon can check all of these boxes. His economic liberalism, in particular, has led critics to label him a French Margaret Thatcher. But Fillon’s genius was his recognition that France’s zombie Catholicism isn’t just a cultural identity but also a latent political one.

Indeed, the zombies came out to vote for him in greater numbers than anyone had anticipated: In the second round of the primary, more than 4.3 million individuals went to the polls. For a party that had never before chosen a presidential candidate by primary, this was a stunning success. (It is important to note that the primary was partly open: Anyone who paid 2 euros and declared they held to right-wing or centrist values was allowed to cast a vote. Although estimates vary of the percentage of those from the left and center who voted, pollsters attribute the second swell of voters to those mobilized by Fillon’s candidacy.)

Equally stunning is how the electoral map dovetails with the sociological map traced by Todd and Le Bras. For example, the Vendée and Brittany, the western regions that formed Fillon, are among what the authors call the most “anthropologically hardened” zombie Catholic enclaves — places where the church has vanished but its practices and values persist. Voters from these parts of France also rallied in greater numbers than elsewhere to Fillon, while in those regions identified by Todd and Le Bras as “anthropologically hardened” liberal enclaves — especially in the south, much of Paris (and the former “red belt” that surrounds it), and other large cities — voter turnout was significantly smaller. According to Jérôme Fourquet, the director of opinion and business strategies for French pollster IFOP, the takeaway was clear: Catholic, or at least zombie Catholic, voters played a “disproportionate” role in the primary.

Just how Catholic Fillon will remain during his campaign for the Élysée remains to be seen, but all signs point to his beliefs being both sincere and deeply held.

When the French political scene was upended in 2012 by the monumental clash over the legalization of same-sex marriage, Fillon never hid his opposition. Once the legislation was passed, Fillon acknowledged that the law must be respected, but he has also repeatedly voiced his opposition to the law’s so-called “excesses,” by which he means the right of same-sex couples to either adopt or use a surrogate mother.

His hostility to the law attracted the support of Sens Commun (“Common Sense”), a deeply conservative Catholic organization tied to La Manif Pour Tous (“Protest for Everyone”), the political movement that led the massive protests against the same-sex marriage law.

Bridget Barjot, the former leader of La Manif Pour Tous and a controversial figure, appeared at Fillon’s headquarters Sunday night to celebrate his victory. Fillon’s personal opposition to abortion — “Given my own faith, I cannot approve of abortion,” he said in early October — has also sent ripples of concern across the political spectrum.

Equally unsettling have been Fillon’s remarks on Islam. Though not as provocative as Nicolas Sarkozy, who relentlessly played the “identity card” during his campaign, Fillon has nevertheless underscored what he considers to be the unprecedented challenge Islam poses for France. He insists on France’s “Christian roots,” a statement critics denounce as an implicit warning to French Muslims that they are not chez soi in France. He has claimed that there is a “concrete problem with radical Islam,” immediately adding, afterward, that “Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, and Sikhs do not threaten our national unity.”

Not surprisingly, the Collective Against Islamophobia in France issued a warning about Fillon’s candidacy, declaring that anti-Islamic remarks made by Fillon spokeswoman Valerie Boyer — most notably, that only Muslim extremists wear headscarves — represented “a small taste of what to expect” from a Fillon presidency.

On the center and left, the takeaway from all this has been panic: It is as if real zombies have invaded France. Some of the headlines in French media following Fillon’s primary win were nearly as apocalyptic as those in the United States following Donald Trump’s victory. When not stammering over the large cross Boyer wore during a press conference, the co-owner of the left-leaning Le Monde newspaper, Pierre Bergé, tweeted that Fillon’s supporters were no better than the Pétainists of Vichy France.

As for Le Monde itself, an editorialist observed, simply, that Fillon’s victory revealed “the emergence of a Catholic and patrimonial right.”


And yet, given the lamentable state of the Socialists, bled white by infighting and tied to the most unpopular president in the history of the Fifth Republic, Fillon seems likely to be the only thing standing between France and a National Front presidency in next spring’s election. The question now is whether he will be able to convince voters from the center and left to overcome their worries about his religion and his austere economic plans.

It’s also an open question whether French Catholics — zombie and non-zombie alike — will maintain their own resistance to the National Front’s anti-Europe, anti-Muslim, and anti-liberal siren call. Fillon does seem to have harnessed what the religion specialist Henri Tincq calls “identity Catholicism.”

Those Frenchmen and women, he said, “uneasy with a modernity that has largely erased Christian values from issues like education, family, work, and sexuality,” and increasingly ill at ease with transnational institutions like the EU and the transnational flow of peoples — especially when they are Muslim and hail from the Middle East — have increasingly been retreating to the ostensible safety of traditionally national institutions like the Catholic Church. Fillon is now offering them what seems to be a compelling political alternative to the sclerotic secularism of the left and unsavory heritage of the extreme right.

But if this activation of Catholic identity already marks a shift in French politics, its ultimate significance is not yet clear. Much depends on the long-term direction taken by the newly awakened horde of zombie Catholics. Will they retreat further to the right and into the arms of the National Front? The late and great historian of French politics René Rémond always insisted that the more observant French Catholics are, the less likely they are to vote for the National Front. But this truism has, with time, frayed dramatically; moreover, it never applied to the zombies to start with.

An IFOP poll taken after last year’s regional elections revealed that 32 percent of practicing Catholics voted for the National Front. Not only was this higher than the national average — 28 percent — of National Front voters, but it was also more than double the percentage of Catholic votes tallied for the party in 2014. As a headline in the Catholic magazine Pélerin announced, the “Catholic dam is collapsing.”

The same poll revealed, however, that western France, Fillon’s homeland, continued to resist the National Front’s rise. Many Catholics, regardless of their religious practice, continue to feel repugnance in voting for a party whose founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, thrived on values they consider antithetical to their worldview. But it bears noting that his daughter, Marine Le Pen, continues to reinvent the National Front, also known by its French name Front National or FN.

It was no accident that when Le Pen the younger recently replaced the traditional logo of the blue-white-and-red flame of the National Front with a blue rose, she also removed the very names “Le Pen” and “Front National” from the party’s graphics. Now, her public appearances are framed by “Marine” and “Au nom du peuple.” (“In the name of the people.”) As one of her advisors remarked, “Marine Le Pen is not the candidate of the FN but of all Frenchmen and women.”

Fillon may have ridden a wave of the undead to victory in the primary. It remains to be seen, however, whether the Catholics — dead and undead alike — will stick by his side this spring.
For Europe to stand a chance of survival, its Catholic heritage must be reborn. It may very well be that France will rise up once again as the Eldest Daughter of the Church to lead the rest of Europe.
(12-07-2016, 10:46 AM)GangGreen Wrote: [ -> ]For Europe to stand a chance of survival, its Catholic heritage must be reborn. It may very well be that France will rise up once again as the Eldest Daughter of the Church to lead the rest of Europe.

That would be great.

Quote:So Catholic, at least to the secular left, that a headline in the newspaper Libération screamed: “Help, Jesus has returned!”

LOL LOL

Somehow it makes me think of a line from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (iirc) to the effect that he sees a smaller, but more devout, Church in the future. 
I think it's one of those things where there are lots of people out there who are tired of the modern narrative and social climate. They want change, but have nowhere to go. In formerly Catholic countries, the vestiges of Catholicism still exist within the culture. I think strong Catholic political leaders and a non-coo-coo Church can bring those things back into the fold. Unfortunately, those two things aren't in high supply right now.
(12-07-2016, 11:09 AM)GangGreen Wrote: [ -> ]I think it's one of those things where there are lots of people out there who are tired of the modern narrative and social climate. They want change, but have nowhere to go. In formerly Catholic countries, the vestiges of Catholicism still exist within the culture. I think strong Catholic political leaders and a non-coo-coo Church can bring those things back into the fold. Unfortunately, those two things aren't in high supply right now.

Yes, not in the kooky Church at present - although I think the present era may turn out to be a last gasp liberal aberration.

But in politics something may actually be changing. I think of Poland and France, where given the recent climate there, this appears truly extraordinary.

When I lived there, Sarkozy once discreetly crossed himself - and there was utter uproar. This is DIFFERENT.

In 17 years as a Catholic I have never had more hope. Obviously not because of the present Papacy, but because of what is happening elsewhere and lower down.
Deus vult!

May he win

Pray
François Fillon has indicated in the past that, while he is personally opposed to abortion, he would not vote within the parliament to ban it. I have been told that this position, shared by some noted Catholic politicians in the United States, like the late Ted Kennedy and Tim Kaine, is indefensible and is an affront to the dignity of life, and, as a Catholic, I am bound to vote only for truly committed pro-life candidates, given the gravity of abortion, and cannot under any circumstance vote for those who would permit the continued legal murder of children.

Is it the case that an American Catholic is bound by his faith to not vote for the likes of "pro-choice" politicians like Ted Kennedy, Tim Kaine, and Joe Biden (who affirmed last year that life begins at conception), notwithstanding their private moral opposition to abortion, while a French Catholic may freely vote for François Fillon in spite of his stated commitment not to interfere with abortion?
(12-07-2016, 12:39 PM)Cyriacus Wrote: [ -> ]François Fillon has indicated in the past that, while he is personally opposed to abortion, he would not vote within the parliament to ban it. I have been told that this position, shared by some noted Catholic politicians in the United States, like the late Ted Kennedy and Tim Kaine, is indefensible and is an affront to the dignity of life, and, as a Catholic, I am bound to vote only for truly committed pro-life candidates, given the gravity of abortion, and cannot under any circumstance vote for those who would permit the continued legal murder of children.

Is it the case that an American Catholic is bound by his faith to not vote for the likes of "pro-choice" politicians like Ted Kennedy, Tim Kaine, and Joe Biden (who affirmed last year that life begins at conception), notwithstanding their private moral opposition to abortion, while a French Catholic may freely vote for François Fillon in spite of his stated commitment not to interfere with abortion?

This is a very good point, Cyriacus. And I confess to not knowing enough yet about the man. But - so far! - I don't think this is pure and simple hypocrisy like Ted Kennedy etc.

The French situation is so different from the USA, but I guess he may be more like certain Republican politicians who are genuinely opposed, but are ultimately lacking in what it takes to go through with it.

Not cool - but I am remain struck by the fact t this seems SO different to anything France has seen in long decades.

Relative to the horrible situation in France, he appears daring indeed. Anyway, even if I am naive about Fillon, the grassroots phenomenon that brought him so unexpectedly to the fore is enough to gie me real cheer.

(12-07-2016, 12:39 PM)Cyriacus Wrote: [ -> ]Is it the case that an American Catholic is bound by his faith to not vote for the likes of "pro-choice" politicians like Ted Kennedy, Tim Kaine, and Joe Biden (who affirmed last year that life begins at conception), notwithstanding their private moral opposition to abortion, while a French Catholic may freely vote for François Fillon in spite of his stated commitment not to interfere with abortion?

It depends on who the opponent is. If Fillon's opponent supports a legal ban on abortion, then it makes the choice to vote against him much easier. But if his opponent is pro-abortion, then it's moral to vote for Fillon if one believes he's the best choice overall, or perhaps his own opposition to abortion will affect the issue even if he doesn't support a ban. I don't know enough about French politics or the candidates to know who I'd vote for if I were French, but if his opponent were someone like Hillary (who'd probably be more of a moderate in Europe), then you vote for Fillon. I do know Europe has many more viable third-party candidates than the US does, so voting for someone else might be much more of an option there.
(12-07-2016, 10:46 AM)GangGreen Wrote: [ -> ]For Europe to stand a chance of survival, its Catholic heritage must be reborn. It may very well be that France will rise up once again as the Eldest Daughter of the Church to lead the rest of Europe.

It's possible, but hard to see.

I think it will be Poland, at least for now.