'What can we say?' French bishops cautious in response to yellow vest protests
FREE Catholic Classes
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday morning that the government would suspend the imposition of a proposed fuel tax increase for six months. The planned increases, originally set to take effect in January, have been at the center of two weeks of demonstrations nationwide, including rioting in Paris.
Paris, France, (CNA) - Catholic leaders have been cautious in their reactions to the demonstrations, expressing sympathy for those bearing the brunt of economic reforms but stopping short of supporting the "yellow vest" movement which has led to cars being burned in the streets of the capital.
Bishop Gilbert Aubry of the Diocese of Saint-Denis de la RĂ©union, on the small island of RĂ©union in the Indian Ocean, has been the most forthright in addressing the situation, which has also affected the French territory.
In an article released on local media, Bishop Aubry said while civil unrest and violence were unacceptable, the wider economic climate had to be considered.
"We have 40% of our population living below the poverty line and we have 24% unemployment. Some say they have nothing to eat at the end of the month. This is reality," Aubery wrote on 21 Nov.
The planned tax, which would have meant a further 6.5 cent tax increase on a litre of diesel and 2.5 cents per litre on gasoline nationwide, is the latest in series of price hikes which have seen fuel costs increase by about 23 percent in the last year. Tighter emissions standards for cars were also meant to be imposed from January. The measures have been suspended for six months in an attempt to quell the civil unrest.
Earlier this year, the government of President Emmanuel Macron brought in a 7.6 cent-per-litre "carbon tax" on fuel as part of the government's green agenda.
Aubery suggested that the violence seen both on the island and on mainland France is linked in part to a consumerist society, in which people already in tight economic circumstances react to images of unattainable prosperity.
"Consumerist society is exacerbated by advertising. As mirrored dreams cannot be realized, [people feel as though] there is nothing left to lose. These vandals [casseurs], they will attack the symbols of this consumerist society: cars and temples of consumption."
While condemning the violence, the bishop said thought must be given to its underlying causes.
"We condemn the destructive violence, the riots, and in doing so, we must search for the causes of this violence as well as the necessary remedies," he wrote.
Aubery also said that it was important not to blame "young people" for the violence which has seen national landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe defaced.
"We cannot speak about young people in a general way and say ~young people organized the riots. Vandals are uncontrollable elements and agitators who benefit from a troubled situation. The vast majority of those we call young people are not vandals," Aubrey wrote.
According to Le Croix, a French-language magazine, many bishops and Catholic groups find themselves caught between condemning the out-of-control protests, while remaining sympathetic to the economic pressures causing them.
"There is some pressure on bishops to take a position on the yellow vests. But what can we say?" La Croix quotes Bishop Xavier Malle of Gap and Embrun as saying on social media.
The same article goes on to quote JĂ©rĂ´me Deschard, president of the Christian Retirees Movement, as expressing a cautious level of "solidarity" with the protestors and sharing the wider concerns about the decline in purchasing power for those on a low income.
The protesters have been dubbed "yellow vests" as many of the demonstrators wear the high-visibility vests which are required to be carried in all cars under French law.
Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary. That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.
Following a massive fire that engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, the church's three iconic rose windows were unharmed, ... continue reading
As the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris burned Monday evening, young Frenchwoman Julie Brocas wandered the streets of the city '" she did not ... continue reading
Seeing Notre Dame de Paris burning and threatening to collapse was a shock that left everyone voiceless '" including President Emmanuel ... continue reading
Pope Francis Tuesday expressed his unity with the people of France following a major blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, encouraging ... continue reading
Pope Francis met with a group of high school students this weekend, encouraging them to monitor their cell phone use, so as not to create ... continue reading
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Monday, April 22nd, 2019 HD Video
- Daily Reading for Sunday, April 21st, 2019 HD Video
- HOLY SATURDAY: The Whole Earth Keeps Silence
- 'Living Lent': EASTER SUNDAY - HE IS RISEN!
- St. Marian: Saint of the Day for Saturday, April 20, 2019
- 'Living Lent': Holy Saturday
- Daily Readings for Saturday, April 20, 2019
- Daily Reading for Saturday, April 20th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, April 19th, 2019 HD
- Prayer Requests Live for Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, April 18th, 2019 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org
Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel
Learn the Catholic way
Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all
K-12 & Adult Education Classes
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education
Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.