French bishops blame riots on politicians and economists
In the wake of this month's civil unrest, France's Catholic bishops warned government officials against hard-line solutions to the country's rioting and placed some of the blame on them.
"Collective responsibility rests with the political and economic decision-makers," said the statement, signed by the bishops' conference president, Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux.
"But the events of these days should also pose questions to us," the bishops said. "Our choices, individually and collectively, concerning the organisation of life in society can lead us to create or to remove situations of exclusion and ghettoization."
Catholic News Service reports that the statement was issued on Wednesday at the close of the bishops' plenary assembly in Lourdes, as French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy authorised the expulsion of foreign-born citizens implicated in the two weeks of violence in Paris and other major French cities. It was the bishops' second statement on the riots in four days.
"We can only condemn, once again, the use of violence, and express our compassion for its victims, particularly the quietest people who've lost their tools of work and means of transport," the bishops said. "Order must be re-established. But we have also recalled that mere repression and inciting collective fear are not a response."
The bishops said France had an "urgent duty" to support "parents, educators, teachers, social workers, associations, priests, monks and nuns" who worked "patiently and often discreetly" to build a "fraternal community" in the worst-hit areas.
Meanwhile, a bishop whose diocese was badly affected described the riots as "a cry by the living scorched" and denied claims the violence was linked to religious extremists.
"From my own contacts and information, especially through the young, I'm convinced the movement of violence affecting so many towns is neither organized nor religious," said Bishop Gerard Daucourt of Nanterre, who left the Lourdes assembly early last week to return to his diocese west of Paris.
French police said on Thursday that more than 600 cars had been burned and 200 people arrested nationwide during the 14th night of rioting, suggesting a drop in violence levels. However, they added that 7000 vehicles already had been destroyed and scores of schools, nurseries, shops, libraries and businesses gutted by arsonists.
Sarkozy told Parliament on 9 November that he had instructed regional administrators to deport foreigners involved in the violence "without delay," whether or not they were legally resident in France.
French bishops place blame for riots on politicians, economists (Catholic News Service 11/11/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Church in France
French bishops express concern about urban violence (CathNews 8/11/05)
The French ideal goes up in flames (The Tablet 12/11/05)
French religious leaders call for calm in face of nationwide violence (Ecumenical News International 10/11/05)
France: Frustration Fuels Flames (Vatican Radio English Features 10/11/05, audio - requires Real Player)
French bishops appeal for calm after violence in Paris, other cities (Catholic News Service 7/11/05)
With rioting in Paris, some wonder if old prophecies of fire now bear relevance (Spirit Daily 8/11/05)
French bishops express concern in front of urban violence and foster presence of religious communities in neighborhoods (Catholic News Agency 7/11/05)
Birmingham: Archbishop challenges Catholics to 'resist racism in our midst' (Independent Catholic News 7/11/05)
French Violence Prompts an Appeal From Bishops (Zenit 6/11/05)
14 Nov 2005