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Laywoman issues statement on bishops’ response to rioting in France

By Leila Marie Lawler (articles ) | Nov 07, 2005

Sue Brown, a homeschooling mother of eight, kicked the dishwasher closed with one foot while she reached down to tie her three-year-old son’s shoe.

As she pushed the hair out of her eyes, she exclaimed, “While, as the French bishops put it, ‘recent urbanization, difficulties for young people in finding employment, and the instability of family life’ are all certainly reasons behind the present unrest in the slums of Paris, Christians should examine the roots of those circumstances, and address the needs of the spirit.

“It strikes me,” she stated, wielding an expert dishcloth across a sticky table and interrupting her conversation with this reporter to spell the word “onomatopoeia” to an unseen scholar in the dining room, “that unanswered wonder, a sense of spiritual alienation, and a need for repentance might be just as valid reasons for unrest, and more within the purview of the prelates in question.

“Someone forwarded me a piece by Ian Johnson and John Carreyrou which detailed the rise of a man in the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF), the French version of the Moslem Brotherhood, a rise that began with a kind of ‘evangelization’ – unfortunately for us, carried out by a fundamentalist Moslem, not a Christian. You can read about it yourself .”

She deftly scooped up a crying baby and moved an overfull basket of laundry out of a visitor’s path.

“My point is simply this: imagine a world in which the bishops called on Christians to evangelize these desperate people, even at the risk of their lives, rather than issuing vague statements about social justice. Suppose that man in the story, Mourad Amriou, now an influential organizer for the UOIF and worker for Islam in France, had instead been convinced that fateful night to become a Catholic. I hear that in Russia millions of Moslems are converting to Christianity. Don’t the bishops of France have the faith to believe that the same thing could happen in their country if they did their duty to God? That’s my statement.”

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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: Novus744 - Nov. 08, 2005 2:07 PM ET USA

    What a woman! No doubt her children are homeschooled. I've never heard a public-schooled child utter a word such as “onomatopoeia”.

  • Posted by: Gino - Nov. 07, 2005 8:14 PM ET USA

    Before we could have a decision on the evangelization of Moslems in America; the USCCB would have to have meetings for at least 2 to 3 years.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 07, 2005 7:19 PM ET USA

    Imagine a world in which ALL Catholics understood the truth of the Eucharist; that in receiving Him whom we're called to immitate we actually receive all we need to fulfill our call to holiness. Imagine all Catholics understanding that Christ lives in us & His will is accomplished in & through us when we actually say YES to Him... that we actually become His Body & that WE are called to live the example of Christian truth for our worldly bretheren. Then perhaps WE can convert the prelates!

  • Posted by: parochus - Nov. 07, 2005 4:56 PM ET USA

    Be careful of using the words "bishops," "France," and "faith" in the same sentence. It may not be onomatopoetic, but it's surely oxymoronic.

  • Posted by: frjimc - Nov. 07, 2005 4:37 PM ET USA

    Imagine a world in which bishops of ANY diocese truly led their flock BY EXAMPLE rather than by PRESS RELEASE. Imagine a world in which the spiritual descendants of the Apostles brought the Good News to cities, towns and individuals by offering up their own sufferings for the joy of converting nonbelievers and of reconciling sinners. Imagine a world in which episcopal conferences were remarkable for how seldom they met, and how little they said, but rather by what they DID for the least ones.

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