Cardinal Vingt-Trois: message to Paris Catholics
(Vatican Radio) The Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, has issued a message to the Catholic community of the city, in the wake of deadly terror attacks on the satirical journal, Charlie Hebdo, earlier in the week.
Gunmen with suspected ties to Islamic terrorism stormed the offices of the weekly on Wednesday morning, killing a dozen people, including a Muslim police officer, and crying vengeance for the insult to Islam done by the journal, which had published cartoons of Islamic figures.
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In a letter dated Saturday, January 10th and appearing in the online pages of the Catholic daily La Croix, Cardinal Vingt-Trois says that the incident is, “a call to rediscover the fundamental values of [the French] republic,” including freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. “A cartoon, however distasteful, cannot be put on the same level as murder,” he writes. “Freedom of the press, whatever the cost,” continues the letter, “is the sign of a mature society.”
Cardinal Vingt-Trois is among a growing chorus of religious and civil leaders, who have condemned the attacks and recalled that, unless freedom of speech protects even that speech, which is offensive and outrageous, then it is meaningless – among them US President Barack Obama, who offered expressions of solidarity with France, his country’s oldest ally. “We grieve with you, we fight alongside you to uphold our values, the values that we share, the universal values that bind us together as friends and as allies,” he said.
The leaders of Germany, Britain, France and Italy announced plans to participate in a vigil in Paris on Sunday called to celebrate French unity in the wake of the violence.
Tensions have been mounting in France in recent times, with as many as 1 thousand 2 hundred of its citizens having left their homes to join Islamic forces fighting in Syria and in Iraq, even as France has emerged as a leader in the effort to counter the rise of Islamic militancy, sending troops to Africa and joining the United States in air combat missions targeting the Islamic State in Iraq.