While deconfinement is approaching and Edouard Philippe presented, on Tuesday April 28, the main axes of his government strategy, voices have been raised in the Catholic world to castigate the decision that had been taken, at first, to not not authorize the resumption of religious celebrations before June 2. The Prime Minister said on Monday May 4 that he was “ready to study” a resumption of worship on May 29 – just before the feast of Pentecost – arousing mixed reactions in the Muslim community, which will celebrate Eid of May 23 to 24.
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In fact, the question of postponing the date for the resumption of religious celebrations deserved to be discussed, and it is understandable that the bishops – and many of the faithful! – regretted the initial arbitrations by the government, which gave the impression of not considering the spiritual dimension as an essential need. Was it legitimate to take advantage of this situation to take on the role of victims and denounce an “attack on freedom of worship”, even an “anti-Catholic tropism” of the President of the Republic?
For us young Catholic laypeople from diverse backgrounds, such a posture was not, and cannot be constructive. It gives the image of a Church only capable of selective indignation, while the risks of social and ecological regression induced by the crisis already look gigantic. Among other reasons for concern, the measures that the executive is preparing to adopt to accelerate the systematization of mass digital tracing (via the StopCovid application) seem to us to be particularly worrying, because they directly threaten public liberties and accelerate the shift to a surveillance regime. This is at least the opinion of several groups of researchers and experts in computer science and cryptography, who highlighted the risks linked to the project in their forum “Warning against tracing projects” (attention-stopcovid.fr), or on the dedicated risks-tracage.fr site – but also that of magistrates, lawyers, and jurists who again shared their concerns on April 30 in a forum published on francetvinfo.fr.
It is here that we wish to challenge our co-religionists, and our bishops in particular: when will the Church be able to be a sign of contradiction, to announce to all that the risk of freedom is better than the comfort of security ? In fact, if Catholics have, in recent years, been passionate about bioethics, and more recently still for transhumanism, the serious attacks on public freedoms do not seem to have particularly moved them. In recent months, lawyer François Sureau, a former columnist at The cross, however, has repeatedly called upon public opinion to point out the liberticidal nature of the laws known as “anti-breakers” and “against online hatred” (which violate the right to demonstrate and freedom of expression respectively).
Towards a society of suspicion
Earlier, during the debates on anti-terrorism laws in 2017, the lawyer Mireille Delmas-Marty had already noted that the security concept that was gaining ground every day led us from a society of responsibility to a society of suspicion – and that this progressive abandonment of the principle of freedom by tacit submission to a power (that of the State and the GAFAM) constituted a “major anthropological rupture”. The recent documentary All under surveillance, 7 billion suspects, broadcast on April 22 on Arte, moreover showed that this one, far from having materialized only in China, begins to be tested on the national territory – as in Nice, where drones and devices of facial recognition are now used by the police.
It seems inconceivable to us today to remain indifferent to this general dynamic, which dangerously tightens the meshes of control over bodies and minds: on the contrary, it should arouse our citizen vigilance, and be the subject of real reflection. ethical and political, informed by our faith. In biblical tradition, all census projects led by kings who believe themselves to be all-powerful are doomed to failure – like David (2 Samuel 24) or Herod (Matthew 2, 16-17). The conciliar texts, which crystallize the tradition of the Church, remind us that it is required “that the exercise of the authority of public powers be legally delimited, so that the field of an honorable freedom, whether s ‘acts of persons or associations, is not too narrowly circumscribed’ (Preamble, Dignitatis Humanae).
“What world do we want?” – this is the question that the bishops have tirelessly asked during the debates on bioethics in recent years. Isn’t it time to transpose this question to the growing place of population control techniques, which is done to the detriment of public freedoms? During WYD in Krakow in 2016, Pope Francis strongly encouraged us to “swap the sofa for a pair of walking shoes”, in order to get out of self-referentiality and confront us with the real challenges of this century. Let us have the courage today to face the facts: accepting that a world crisscrossed by the technologies of fear is organized is incompatible with the call to an evangelical life and with our desire to serve the common good.
(1) Pierre-Louis Choquet – Researcher in social sciences, Joseph D’halluin – Association activist, Anne Waeles – Associate doctoral student in philosophy, Benoît Sibille – Associate doctoral student in philosophy, Victor Macé de Lépinay – Radio producer, Anouchka Vié – Lawyer, Jean-Victor Elie – Philosophy student, Arthur de Lassus – Engineer and market gardener, Anne Guillard – Doctoral student in theology, Paul Piccarreta – Journalist and editor, Valentine Rinner – Engineer and student in theology, Martin Monti-Lalaubie – Journalist, Thomas de Brugière – Committed to the Christian community, Thérèse du Sartel – Philosophy student, Baptiste Protais – Philosophy student, Pierre Bucher – Engineer and theology student, Louise Dumont Saint Priest – Lawyer, Gaëlle Toulemonde – Associate history teacher, Jérôme de Mercey – Lawyer, Pierre-Henri Bernard – Associate teacher of German, Inès Gandon – Employee in the social and solidarity economy.