“Not all participants will become activists for the restoration of Christianity”

“Not all participants will become activists for the restoration of Christianity”
“Not all participants will become activists for the restoration of Christianity”

La Croix: Who now goes to the Chartres pilgrimage?

Paul Airiau : The public is varied because there is no seal between the traditionalist world and the non-traditionalist world, whatever one may think. We observe forms of porosity and circulation between the two, particularly among the youngest generations, who are much less marked by previous fixations. I think that Benedict XVI’s decision in 2007 to allow celebration in both forms of the Roman rite played a role in psychological unblocking, despite Francis’ change of heart on the issue.

This circulation between the two environments corresponds entirely to the general evolution of religion, where people move from one place to another according to their expectations, their desire and their spiritual life, in a form of butterflying. . Among the pilgrims, we therefore find declared “tradis”, who consider that there is no other interesting reality in the Church of France, traditionalists who can practice in the ordinary form because they have no nothing else at hand, and then ordinary Catholics.

What are they looking for in this pilgrimage?

PA: I believe that some find elements of asceticism and pilgrimage practices there that are not found elsewhere. Few places in contemporary Catholicism today offer a true walking pilgrimage that extends over several days. We could make a link with the development of hiking and pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago. It is a way of recovering ancient practices and adapting them to post-modernity.

And then we have to mention the mass dimension, the number. For the participants, it is a question of counting themselves, of realizing that we are not alone, and of demonstrating the importance of Catholicism through a whole series of visuals in the face of a society that recognizes it. less and less in public bodies, and where the visibility of Islam is greater. The attestation dimension can therefore play a role.

The visual aspect is very emphasized: how would you describe the aesthetics of the Chartres pilgrimage?

PA:“Catholic and French always!” » to sum it up a little bluntly. The pilgrimage highlights a historical roots which involves symbols, whether crosses, fleur-de-lys, figures of saints, banners. These are all the elements which partly formed parish identities until the 1950s and 1960s. It’s a way of bringing back the uniform, something which publicly indicates a place and an identity: these signs explicitly say that we are dealing here with a group of Catholics. This ultimately corresponds quite well to a contemporary era in which we are saturated with brands, images and ways of presenting ourselves.

For the organizers, it is a question of “promoting Christianity” understood as the kingship of Christ in the life of the City. What is the political project of the pilgrimage?

PA: The theological-political project of the founders of the pilgrimage is to remake Christianity, that is to say a Christian society where institutions organize the common good and allow everyone to achieve Salvation. Clearly, we find the idea that there cannot be Salvation for men if the State respecting Christian principles does not help them to save themselves, and does not create the conditions to access a relationship with God. These are the fundamental ideas of what is called Catholic intransigence, as it developed from the French Revolution to Pius XII. For the founders and organizers, it is the horizon.

It refers to an almost eschatological perspective of moving towards an end of times where God will reign over the world. It is a great story which has a mobilizing perspective: in a society where there are no longer many of them, offering young people aged 15 to 25, but also all Catholics, to become saints, to walk and to make France Christian is rather promising. This does not mean, however, that all participants are ready to become activists for the reinvention of Christianity.

Should we conclude from this that there is a movement towards traditionalism among Catholic youth who, at the very least, see no harm in adopting these signs?

PA: For many, this is the framework that imposes itself on them, and they fit into it. One part probably has to keep its own self, the other has to be dragged along by the system, and then others don’t care much. For a part of this youth – notably those who are called tradismatics and those who go to mass in their parish but practice from time to time in the ancient rite, it is an opportunity to live a great spiritual experience and to show themselves as Catholics.

This does not mean that young classical Catholics will become traditionalists, because there is still a paradigm difference between traditionalist Catholicism, in its way of thinking about the relationship to God, to the mass, to devotions, and the classic Catholicism, which cannot be underestimated. This does not mean either that these young participants will join the Catholic activism for the restoration of Christianity because if that were the case, movements like Ichtus or Catholic Renaissance would have many more sympathizers, and that is not the case. case.

These are movements which are marked to the extreme right…

PA: These are people who actually believe that Reconquest, the National Rally, even a part of the hard right, embody what comes closest, not to the rebirth of Christianity, but to resistance against an absolute liberalization of the Company. But it is first and foremost the religious motive which guides their political evaluation, especially since they were disappointed by the National Rally and its evolution. And the political prospects are truly uncertain, perhaps hence the emphasis on religious mobilization.

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