"No!" Vingt-Trois replied forcefully, "I am not afraid of them." What troubles him more at this point is the "barbaric state" of the French students and young professionals, the heirs of the 1960s generation, "which has renounced all norms for life."
Vingt-Trois, who chairs the French Bishops Conference's Commission for the Family, sees "a profound anthropological crisis" in his country, a crisis caused by post-modernity's moral relativism.
"For this mistaken generation all acts are equal," he said. In other words, there is no qualitative difference between moral or immoral behavior.
"In reality, these young people have had no parents. To be sure, they have had biological fathers and mothers, who fed them. But they did not educate their children. Hence, we have a generation of young know-nothings, not just in matters of faith but in every other respect as well."
The archbishop, who at 60 is thought of as relatively young and one of the best brains in the French Catholic hierarchy, rates these "barbarian youths" the latest catastrophe coming out of the 17th- and 18th-century Enlightenment and its ideology of the absolute supremacy of anthropology.
....Rather than worry about Muslim immigrants, most of whom aren't fundamentalists anyway, the French society should endeavor to overcome "the horror of the autonomy of man," Vingt-Trois said.
He listed the bitter fruits of the Enlightenment, fruits that were anything but Christian: "There was the anti-Semitism of Voltaire, who was not a Christian. There was the anti-Semitism of the Nazis, who were pagans and Gnostics. Nobody talks about that. Nobody likes to admit that Nazism and Marxism were both children of the Enlightenment -- children that killed 60 million human beings in 20th-century Europe.
To the archbishop this was an "explosion of horror."
By comparison, the mass immigration of Muslims, mainly from France's former colonies, is less worrisome. "We do have a religious supermarket in which Islam is well placed, but less well than Buddhism." What makes both faiths attractive to many is that they have clearly defined practices.
"There is a great paradox here. Many in France who have rejected Christianity because of the obligations it imposes on the believer find it perfectly natural that Islam has even stricter rules."