Category: France

1,600 Foreign Priests

To church officials, this is not necessarily a bad thing. ”They bring freshness, youth, and another way to consider the pastoral,” says Fr Pierre–Yves Pecqueux, who heads the international recruitment at the Conference des eveques de France, the church’s bishops’ committee. ”They have their own way to speak about faith, and a joy to believe in God,” he says. Most foreign priests are sent to France for three, six or nine years according to an agreement between bishops. They settle here on the basis of the Fidei Donum (Gift of Faith), the 1957 encyclical that encouraged bishops to open themselves ”to the universal needs of the Church.” Some also serve as part-time priests, having gone there primarily to study theology in French universities. The church organises sessions to welcome foreign priests and train them for the religious realities of France. The newcomers are given information about the history of Catholicism in France, the specifics of state secularism and the use of social media. For many priests, the fundamental problem is the Church’s struggle to define itself for a new generation in a secular country and amid a de–Christianizing trend in western Europe.  

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