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Yellow vests: French bishops, open channels for “courageous and constructive” dialogue. “Violence leads nowhere”

A call to open channels for dialogue – something which is “always possible” – and to abandon all forms of violent protest. Mgr. Georges Pontier, Bishop of Marseilles and President of the French Bishops, commented on the yellow vest protests that have caused havoc in Paris and other cities across the country. “For several weeks now – Mgr. Pontier wrote in a statement released by the French Bishops’ Conference -, our country has been gripped by a wave of protests. People took to the streets to express their distress and fears. The profound changes affecting our society, and political decisions” which are often “poorly understood” are all factors that exacerbate the feeling of exclusion. This crisis is a clear indicator of the lack of listening and dialogue in our country, of the fragmentation and misunderstandings that many of our fellow citizens experience, of the growing mistrust in each institution, and of the loss of trust in intermediate bodies”. The president of the bishops condemned all forms of violence used to express one’s anger. “They lead nowhere”, he wrote: “And in no way can they be a way of venting one’s distress. We unreservedly condemn them and call on everyone to assume responsibility and to accept other possible channels for dialogue so that the necessary decisions can be taken while ensuring respect for everyone. We reaffirm that solidarity must be the basis for human relations, especially with the most vulnerable members of our society. Only courageous and constructive dialogue can contribute to the search for the common good”. Mgr. Pontier concluded with an appeal to the Christian communities of the country. “I invite Catholics to pray for our country at a time when we await the coming of the Prince of Peace. Each of us, wherever we are, is called to be an artisan of this respectful dialogue with others”.

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