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Paris (France) -- The Church in the face of violence

“The Church in the face of violence” was the topic of a study workshop for priests held in Paris at the parish of St. François de Molitor, on March 12.

The morning conference was given by Jean-Luc Chabot, a professor of Political Science at the University of Grenoble. He emphasized how the universal and constant reality of violence in human history began to mitigate with the appearance of Christianity, and how the de-Christianization of the West is not irrelevant to the return of violence that recent years have seen. Referring to the ideas of the anthropologist René Girard, he stressed that Christianity brings with it a principle of pacification. Jesus carried out the great reconciliation of mankind with God and with one’s fellow men. Therefore the great peace-makers of our day are those who extend the action of Christ, especially priests through the Sacrament of Penance.

In the afternoon session, Jean-Marie Petitclerc, a Salesian priest specializing in the education of young people in poor areas, spoke about television and video games as factors generating gratuitous violence nowadays. He said that these widespread pastimes lead to confusing an imaginary world in which others’ suffering is hard to perceive, with reality. It is important to warn young people of this danger and help them choose worthwhile entertainment. At the same time, personal and collective violence would diminish greatly if young people, especially when encountering failure in their aspirations, feel themselves more valued by adults. Often, he pointed out, violence is a way of affirming one’s personality in a world that seems uncaring.

Romana, No. 44, January-June 2007, p. 162-163.