Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 26 May |
Saint of the Day: St. Philip Neri
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

French Catholics attacked during Immaculate Conception procession  


By Ilya Andriyanov | Shutterstock

Zelda Caldwell - published on 12/13/21

A group of demonstrators shouted,“Infidels” and “Wallah [I swear] on the Quran I will cut your throat.”

Last week a group of French Catholics taking part in an annual Marian procession in the suburbs of Paris were verbally attacked and threatened by demonstrators.

About 30 parishioners and clergy from Nanterre, France who were making an annual torchlight procession on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Wednesday, December 8, were confronted by a group of ten people, reported Le Figaro.

In what was described as a “heated altercation” the demonstrators insulted and threatened the group, calling them “infidels.” Le Figaro reported that Jean-Marc Sertillange, a deacon of the the parish, published an account of the attack:

“Our procession, which takes place every year on December 8 for the feast of the parish, was to start from the Saint Joseph church to reach the Sainte Marie church, in the Pablo Picasso district. The route of barely one kilometer had been authorized by the prefecture after a declaration filed by me.”

“But shortly after 7:00 p.m., and when we had only advanced a few hundred yards, a bunch of strangers on the path verbally attacked us at the time of the first prayer station.” 

According to the deacon, the demonstrators called the group,”kouffars” (“disbelievers “) and threatened, “On the Koran, I’ll cut your throat.

 “They then threw water at us, then grabbed out one of the torches and threw it in our direction, ” he added.

Condemnation from French government

On Saturday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin condemned the attacks on Twitter, calling them a violation of religious freedom.

“Inadmissible acts,” he Tweeted, “The freedom of worship must be able to be exercised in all serenity in our country. Support for Catholics in France.”

The diocese describes violent threats

The confrontation took place outside the church of Saint-Joseph-des-Fontenelles  in the diocese of Nanterre.

The diocese issued a statement on December 11, which was published by the National Catholic Register:

“A Marian procession — registered with the Prefecture of Hauts-de-Seine — was organized between the churches of St. Joseph and Sainte-Marie-des-Fontenelles in Nanterre on Dec. 8, 2021.

“During this march, two stops were planned. During the first stop, the procession was attacked by several people who uttered insults and crude and violent threats. The torch of a faithful was snatched away and thrown at the participants.

“The procession restarted and continued, joined by the police, to Sainte-Marie-des-Fontenelles. A complaint is about to be filed.

“The diocese has contacted the public authorities to ensure that the safety of the faithful, who are legitimately concerned, is fully guaranteed now and in the future,” the statement read.

Police respond to attacks

On Saturday the Haut-de-Sein Police department posted on Twitter that they “strongly condemn the insults, threats and intimidations uttered during the procession and expresses its solidarity with the Catholics of Nanterre.Police forces mobilized to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators of these intolerable acts.”

In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in acts of vandalism against churches in France, as reported at Aleteia. A recent study by the Observatory on Intolerance Against Christians in Europe named France as one of five European countries that has seen a sharp uptick in anti-Christian discrimination and violence.

EuropeFranceReligious Freedom
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.