Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 26 July |
Saint of the Day: Sts Joachim and Anne
home iconNews
line break icon

French Knights of Columbus respond to attacks on churches


fotoliza / Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 03/08/19 - updated on 10/19/20

“When you are attacked so painfully in what is the most precious in your life, you need silence and dignity,” said one Knight.

In the wake of a string of attacks on French Catholic churches, members of the Knights of Columbus have responded with prayer.

In the first months of 2019, there were close to a dozen incidents of vandalism and desecration in Catholic churches across France, including the scattering of Eucharistic hosts and the use of feces to draw a crucifix on a wall. Vandals smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, burned altar cloths and tore down crosses, Catholic News Agency reported.

“When you are attacked so painfully in what is the most precious in your life, you need silence and dignity,” said Arnaud Boutheon, a member of the Knights of Columbus Charles de Foucault Council 16502 in Paris. “The first thing to do is pray, offer this suffering, tell the truth, expose the facts with a responsible voice with no revenge and mourning spirit, but with dignity.”

The Knights of Columbus began to be established in France in 2016 and now have 16 councils and about 320 members, said Joseph Cullen, a spokesman for the Catholic fraternal organization.

The desecrations were met with broad disapproval in France. Edouard Philippe, France’s prime minister, said in a February 13 statement, “Such acts shock me and must be unanimously condemned.”

“Catholics and the whole French public was shocked,” Boutheon attested. “Catholic churches are the sign of our spiritual heritage, the visible sign of our Christian roots.”

Knights and chaplains of the 16 councils in France organized Masses in their parishes, inviting members to pray in solidarity on February 19. They prayed for peace, forgiveness and hope as well as for strength in the face of the offenses.

But Boutheon considers the attacks an opportunity to promote the faith and prayer in a country that has seen its share of violent attacks in recent years. Those attacks include the murder in 2016 of an elderly priest in Normandy, Fr. Jacques Hamel, by Islamic radicals.

“As citizens and patriots, we will act to alert the public opinion about this aggression and help our priests to protect their buildings,” Boutheon said. “As Catholics, we also know that we will find interior peace not in activism but in prayer.”

Boutheon considers the Knights of Columbus an “answer to a new generation of faithful young French Catholics,” that can help bring spiritual healing to those parishes that were the targets of vandalism. Young Catholics, he said, have discovered the “prophetic vision” of Father Michael J. McGivney, who founded the Knights in the United States in the 19th century, “as an answer for our times. There is this spiritual move of letting peace and forgiveness substitute fear and resentment. This move of ‘mastering of ourselves’ is eminently knightly, a sign for true men.”

EuropeKnights of Columbus
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Philip Kosloski
This morning prayer is easy to memorize
Daniel Esparza
5 Curious things you might not know about Catholicism
Joachim and Anne
Philip Kosloski
Did Jesus know his grandparents?
J-P Mauro
Reconstructing a 12th-century pipe organ discovered in the Holy L...
Daniel Esparza
3 Legendary pilgrimages off the beaten path
Philip Kosloski
Why is Latin the official language of the Church, instead of Aram...
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been know...
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.