FRENCH BISHOPS: MGR. PONTIER, "FUTURE IS NOT BUILT ON EXCLUSION POLICIES"

"We cannot build the future of our country by withdrawing in on ourselves or by enacting policies of exclusion and ejection". Monsignor Georges Pontier, Archbishop of Marseille and President of the French Bishops’ Conference, said this in his opening address to the Bishops’ Plenary Meeting in Lourdes today. In his speech, Mgr. Pontier referred to the terrorist attacks in January that have shocked Paris with the "dark forces of death". Such events – he said – demand that we all take "responsibility" to respect the legitimate "diversity that makes up our society". "We should tell our Jewish compatriots – he added – that we cherish and value their presence. We should tell our Muslim compatriots that it is important to continue to learn coexistence in a French society that, throughout its history, has proved capable of welcoming peoples from afar. We should tell our Christian compatriots to shun all fears, all temptations to withdraw in on ourselves, and be the first to show signs of forgiveness and reconciliation". "The secularity of the state – the president of the French Bishops added – is the guarantor of freedom of conscience, of freedom of religion and worship". (continued) ” “

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