France 'no longer a Catholic country'
By Henry Samuel in Paris Last Updated: 1:47am GMT 10/01/2007
Barely half the French population describe themselves as Catholic, according to a poll released yesterday, sparking a leading religious publication to declare France "no longer a Catholic country".
A poll published in Le Monde des Religions yesterday showed the number of self-declared French Catholics had dropped from 80 per cent in the early 1990s and 67 per cent in 2000 and to 51 per cent today.
The number of atheists has risen sharply to 31 per cent from 23 per cent in 1994.
"In its institutions, but also in its mentalities, OFrance is no longer a Catholic country," wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor in chief of Le Monde des Religions.
French Catholicism, while suffering during the Revolution, did not begin its real decline until 1905, experts say, when pre-war France was declared a secular state, all funding of religious groups was stopped and religious buildings were declared the property of the state.
Yesterday's poll showed that only 10 per cent go to church regularly — mainly to Sunday mass or christenings. Of the 51 per cent who still call themselves Catholics, only half said they believed in God. Many said they were Catholics because it was a family tradition.
Of the 51 per cent who still call themselves Catholics, only half said they believed in God.
Only God knows what all this means.