My Favorite Story: Catholicism in France Is Shrinking and More Traditional

France is considered the eldest daughter of the Church.

Catholics attend Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France.
Catholics attend Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France. (photo: John Silver / Shutterstock)

I consider “Catholicism in France Could Soon Become a Minority but a More Traditional One, Experts Claim” about the Catholic faith in France to be one of my key articles of the year, as it analyzes on a national scale a phenomenon that is likely to become widespread in the West over the coming decades.

The plummeting figures for the religious practice of Catholics in general, although higher in France than in neighboring countries such as Italy and Spain, are nonetheless alarming in all European countries, including Poland, the continent’s most religious country.

In many Western countries, de-Christianization is correlated with the rise of atheism, as well as a sharp increase in the Muslim immigrant population.

In France, the baby boomer generation, which is still well represented among the ruling political class, often takes a dim view of what they perceive as a traditional turn by part of the Catholic youth, which is reflected in the incredible participation in the annual Chartres pilgrimage — which is now having to turn away registrations — or in the steady rise in vocations to communities considered to be of classical or traditionalist inspiration, as in the United States. Similar phenomena of a return to traditional Catholic practices can be observed in Sweden and Norway, traditionally Protestant but largely de-Christianized and affected by increased Muslim immigration.

France, the eldest daughter of the Church, is at the forefront of a movement that has not yet spread to countries where Catholicism is still culturally dominant, but which seems to be progressing throughout the West. However, it is seeing currents of both charismatic and traditionalist elements of the Catholic faith take hold, and that is a positive sign.