Religious heritage in France: churches, a sensitive political subject


The former Minister of Culture, Roselyne Bachelot, recently affirmed that it would not be possible to preserve all the churches, in particular the religious heritage of the XNUMXth century which requires expensive maintenance. A statement that sparked a strong reaction from the LR president of the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region, Laurent Wauquiez. 

In his new book, "682 days: the ball of the hypocrites", Roselyne Bachelot recently claimed that it is "impossible" to keep all the churches, due to the budget that their maintenance requires. Asked about this on the set of “C à vous” on January 8, she declared that there is “a cult heritage of the XNUMXth century which is not of great interest” and that we will have to choose.

The former minister added that it will be the role of the interested citizens to mobilize to maintain and preserve these religious buildings, but that it should not be the role of the State or the public authorities which must, according to her, refocus “on a notorious heritage”.

Statements that made Laurent Wauquiez jump. In a statement entitled “No Madame Bachelot, we will not raze our churches! “, the president of the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region called for “not to resign ourselves to deconstructing our heritage” and to “mobilize all energies”.

He announced that the region had released since 2018 more than 20 million euros for "restoration operations of religious buildings" and that it would commit 30 million for the current mandate.

“The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region is indeed pursuing an ambitious policy in terms of promoting and protecting its religious heritage. Since 2018, more than 20 million euros of regional funds have been dedicated to operations to restore religious buildings. It will commit more than 30 million euros to the current mandate. »

Mr. Wauquiez added that this action coupled with the work "conducted with the Loto du patrimoine de Stéphane Bern or the Heritage Foundation" are "the best way to respond to the declaration of Ms. Bachelot".

In the wake of this recent skirmish between the two former ministers, the intervention of Gerald Darmanin in a local affair involving the degradation of a church in the Rhône illustrates the political sensitivity of the subject of churches.

A suspect arrested for damage to a church in the Rhône

The Minister of the Interior announced on Twitter on Friday that a man suspected of having perpetrated damage to a church in the Rhône has been arrested and placed in police custody. In this tweet, he also expressed his "support for the Catholics of the Rhône after the degradation" of the place of worship.

Support for Catholics in the Rhône after the degradation of the Saint-Louis-Roi church in Champagne-au-Mont-d'Or.
One individual was arrested and taken into custody.

- Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) -


The Saint-Louis-Roi church, in Champagne-au-Mont-d'Or (Rhône), was the subject of degradation and destruction on Tuesday, lamented in a press release Father Martin Charcosset, parish priest. Saint-Jean-Marie Vianney.

“The objects present in the church – candles, books, vases, etc. – were thrown to the ground. The nativity scene installed in front of the altar was turned over and damaged. The Stations of the Cross and the paintings of the choir are essentially destroyed, as well as two large crucifixes, ”detailed Father Charcosset, announcing the suspension sine die of religious services.

According to the Lyon prosecutor's office, the individual "quickly (was) identified thanks to the video surveillance of the town" then arrested by the gendarmes of Limonest on Wednesday.

“A psychiatric report has concluded that his judgment has been abolished” and his police custody must soon be lifted “so that he can be hospitalized”, he added.

“The investigation is continuing in order to determine the exact circumstances of the commission of these degradations and the degree of responsibility of their author”, concluded the prosecution.

According to Father Charcosset, "these acts, because of their violence and their target, constitute what the Church calls a profanation: the desire to attack the sanctity of the place", adding that the church would "soon be cleaned up ".

Pending the resumption of worship, a penitential rite will be celebrated there on Friday evening by the Archbishop of Lyon Olivier de Germay, he added.

Camille Westphal Perrier (with AFP)

Image credit: Shutterstock/ EBASCOL

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