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France Pagan? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 19 May 2009 22:39
The online Time magazine archives is a real treasure and I'm coming across wonderful nuggets there as I do my research.

Here's one called Not Cassocks But Coveralls from November, 1965 on a revival of the Worker-priest experiment launched in the 40's, suppressed by Pope John XXIII and revived for a time by Pope Paul VI. (I believe it was stopped again but I don't know why.)

The worker-priest experiment began because of a 1940 book by an obscure French priest, Abbe Henri Grodin, called "France: A Mission Field?' and published in English by Maisie Ward, of Sheed and Ward, under the title "France Pagan? in 1943. (I own a copy of the Sheed book. It certainly gives one perspective on our situation 70 years later.)

Abbe Grodin wrote eloquently about the profound de-Christianization of the working class in France in the late 30's and the Time article indicates not much has changed. Cardinal Suhard of Paris sat up all night reading it and decided to take action. And the result was the worker priest movement which was consciously competing with communist cells in the slums of Paris.

"Among French workers nowadays, according to a recent government survey, the percentage of practicing Catholics runs from 2% to 10% ; many millions can quite reasonably be called pagan."

Those kind of figures sure sound familiar. It was already commonplace in the 1860's for the working class, especially men, to no longer practice the faith. The French had been already been wrestling with this for a hundred years before the Second Vatican Council.

In fact, Pope Pius XI said this to Fr. Joseph Cardijin (the founder of the Young Christian Workers or JOC) when they met in 1925:

“The greatest scandal of the nineteenth century was the loss of the workers to the Church.”
 

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