Four French Member Organizations of IHEU want to reaffirm the principles of secularism on the occasion of the announcement of the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to France, September 12 -15, at the invitation of the Bishops’ Conference of France. This visit is aimed at “celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous in the grotto of Lourdes”.
The 1905 law of Separation of the Churches and the State guarantees the freedom of conscience and safeguards the free exercise of worship. The freedom of movement of people and ideas is also inalienable. We are making a point of reaffirming those basic principles.
The 1905 law provides that “the Republic does not recognize, nor salary nor subsidize any worship”. Consequently, religious events which accompany the Pope’s visit should not receive any public funding. The expenses inherent in the travel and accommodation of an international public VIP are quite another matter.
However, for the international, European and French secularist movement, this visit is based on the ambiguity concerning the Pope’s status, at the same time the Head of the State of the Vatican as well as a religious leader.
Even beyond the Pope’s visit, we believe it is important to reaffirm those principles. In this purpose, the French Member Organisations of IHEU call all the secularist organisations to participate jointly in the international secularist rally in Paris, on Sunday, September 14, 2008, at the Japy Hall – 2 rue Japy Paris 11 , on the three following demands : .
– Against any public funding of religious events!
– For secularism in Europe!
– For the Separation of States and Religions!
25 secularist, humanist and freethinkers organisations have already supported this initiative under the aegis of IHEU. The rally will be chaired by Marc Blondel, President of the French Libre Pensée
All at Paris on September 14, 2008!
The undersigned of this Appeal – Fédération nationale de la Libre Pensée, Ligue de l’enseignement, Union rationaliste, Europe et Laïcité (CAEDEL) – are French Member Organisations of IHEU (International Humanist and Ethical Union).