French bishops give no election advice


Western Europe


Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen during the debate. PHoto AFP, Lucovic Marin

Jewish, Muslim and Protestant organisations warn against a victory for far-right Marine Le Pen. However, French bishops recall that the Catholic Church will not give any voting advice for the second round of the presidential election coming Sunday.

A few days before the decisive round on 24 April, the bishops do not deviate from the position they have constantly defended over the last electoral deadlines, French website famille chrétienne writes.

"Don't try; I won't give voting instructions", the president of the Conference of Bishops of France, Mgr de Moulins Beaufort, told the French daily Le Parisien. "We must accept the democratic game; each citizen is capable of determining for himself", the bishop added.

Invited by the French TV channel RTL the Bishop of Nanterre, Mgr Rougé, took the same position. He would not pronounce in favour or against one of the two candidates. "We have taken the floor to propose elements of reflection to all Catholics. Nevertheless, we do not seek to denominationalise or clericalise the vote; we believe that each citizen, in conscience, can determine himself in an adjusted manner".


The Roman Catholic Church also has a justification for not issuing a voting recommendation. "The refusal to give voting instructions comes from our conception of democracy. We cannot absolve each citizen of his or her responsibility," Mgr de Moulins-Beaufort says to Le Parisien. "In any case, between the two candidates and their conception of life, neither is completely satisfactory from our point of view."

In 2017, when Le Pen and Macron were also fighting each other in the second round, the episcopate adopted the same position. However, this was not the case in 2002. In that year, the duel was between Jean-Marie Le Pen –father of Marine– and the then sitting centre-right president Jacques Chirac. "2002 was a great shock for our whole society. There were many demonstrations that we don't see today. Perhaps things have changed; the maturity of the electorate has grown," Mgr Rougé analysed on RTL.

"Le Pen's victory could hamper Protestant commitments"

With this position, the representatives of the Catholic Church distinguish themselves from those of other religious groups. Contrary to the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestant Federation of France explicitly warns against a victory for Marine Le Pen, Evangeliques.info reports. The organisation writes in a press release that Protestants should "blow the words of brotherhood against the discourse of extremes."

In addition, the Protestant Federation warns that Le Pen's victory could hinder the organisation's commitments. For example, it mentions the actions for the reception of exiles and foreigners and religious freedom.

For their part, Jewish and Muslim leaders called outright to support Emmanuel Macron. For example, the Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia, is concerned that if Marine Le Pen wins, direct attacks on the religious practices of Jews and Muslims will follow. The candidate's programme includes the end of ritual slaughter –by which kosher and halal meat are certified– in the name of animal welfare and the banning of the veil and the kippah in the public space.



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