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allons enfants

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 07, 2007

Mark Steyn is glad the French said Non to Ségolène, but not overly optimistic about the longer term, providing an anecdote that serves as an incisively illuminating parable:

In my recent book, whose title escapes me, I cite one of those small anecdotes that seems almost too perfect a distillation of Continental politics. It was a news item from 2005: A fellow in Marseilles was charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month.

She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government check for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman Lived With Dead Mother To Keep Pension."

Think of France as that flat in Marseilles, and its economy as the dead mother, and the country's many state benefits as monsieur's deceased mom's benefits.

Your Uncle Di reads the story less as a metaphor of Continental politics than an allegory of post-Conciliar churchmanship. Think of the cadaver as the project of Renewal, the fake-female phone voice as the theological professoriat, and the fraud's long-suffering wife as --

Come to think of it, there was no missus in the picture, was there?

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  • Posted by: - May. 08, 2007 8:01 PM ET USA

    This guy didn't happen to run a hotel did he? I am thinking Hitchcock.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 4:47 PM ET USA

    The American bishops preside over a dying institution that has more in common with American newspapers or Ford than Continental politics. They all have lost credibility, yet insist on still playing defense. Fortunately, a majority of the shares in our beloved Church are held by the Deity who has promised that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. Stockholders of Ford and the New York Times would give their eye teeth for such a guarantee.

  • Posted by: - May. 07, 2007 1:19 PM ET USA

    Uncle Di you took the words right out of my mouth. I can think of many Church leaders here in my country (Canada) that say our declining Church (few vocations, lack of priests, closing institutions, closing parishes) is only evidence of the Great Renewal called for by Vatican II. I have even heard pastors explain that the decline is an opportunity for the Church to undergo a "dying" which they say will inevitably lead to a hypothetical and distant "resurrection."