What is the Catholic Academy of France?



Many have discovered its existence in recent days, when a document written in a personal capacity by eight of its members, questioning the report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse (Ciase) in the Church, was sent to the Pope. The Catholic Academy of France, however, was created in 2009, working to “The place and the recognition in the public space, of the intellectual production attached to Christianity, to Catholicism in particular ”, According to its honorary president, Philippe Capelle-Dumont, in a presentation text published on the Academy’s website. Today it has more than 200 members.

→ ANALYSIS. In the Church, challenges to the Sauvé report emerge

If the idea of ​​this institution was born in 2007, its founders saw additional encouragement for their project in the speech at the Bernardins by Pope Benedict XVI, in September 2008, devoted to the world of culture. The Catholic Academy wanted to respond to the need for expertise of Catholic intellectuals and for a dialogue between them and between disciplines with a view to a richer participation in the debate of ideas in society, to a need for visibility of the Catholic thought in all its diversity, including that of the laity.

“An expert, who is always in a very limited field of knowledge, has a duty to enlighten others on this field, especially when a media vulgate contains errors or half-truths”, explained, at the time of its launch, the philosopher Rémi Brague, one of the founding members of the Academy.

“We only enter the truth through charity”

From Father Jean-René Armogathe to sociologist Jean-Louis Schlegel, including Nathalie Nabert, Henri Tincq (died in March 2020) and Bishop Joseph Doré, its founding members came from very diverse backgrounds. Its motto, borrowed from Saint Augustine, is “Non intratur in veritatem, nisi per charitatem” (“We only enter the truth through charity”).

The Academy is made up of an office, an academic body (bringing together different disciplines, scientific, philosophical, theological, artistic and legal), an institutional body (Catholic universities, the Biblical School of Jerusalem, Collège des Bernardins, etc.) as well as individual members. It is currently chaired by Hugues Portelli, professor emeritus of law.

She has issued several statements on hot topics. The most recent, dating from November 23, concerns the law on separatism passed in August. “This law being now promulgated, (the Academy) wishes to come back to some provisions which particularly worry him, in order to carry out a legal, historical and doctrinal assessment ”, explains in the preamble the declaration of eight pages. Other topics on which the institution has spoken publicly since its founding include the situation of Eastern Christians, gender, end of life and other bioethical issues.

About twenty collective works have also been published under the aegis of the Academy, on themes as diverse as transhumanism, the social thought of the Church, reflections on the pandemic, or on the poet Marie Noël. The academic institution also organizes conferences (the last, in February 2021, was entitled “Christianity and migration”).

Several resignations

A Catholic Academy prize has been awarded every year since 2013. L’Ouvre d’Orient is the winner for 2021. In previous years, this prize was awarded to Father Jean Greisch, philosopher and former research director at the CNRS, to Bruno Frappat, former director of The cross, to the historian Étienne François, to the academician François Cheng, to the philosopher Bruno Latour, to the composer Michaël Levinas, to the poet Jean-Pierre Lemaire, and to the painter Arcabas.

Several academics have announced their resignation from the institution after the discovery of the drafting, by eight of its members, of the very critical text on the Sauvé report, and of the sending of this text to Pope Francis, without any internal debate. has taken place. Jean-Marc Sauvé, himself a member of this academy, had accepted on September 10 a meeting which was to take place on October 14 with his colleagues to present the report. But this intervention had been postponed by Hugues Portelli, according to the president of Ciase, without a new date being programmed immediately. Among the resigners are Bishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, President of the Conference of Bishops of France, and Sister Véronique Margron, President of the Conference of Religious of France (Corref).

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