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Unrest continues following the killing of a 17-year-old boy by a French police officer during a traffic stop in the Paris suburb of Nanterre (OSV News/ Reuters, Yves Herman)

France’s bishops joined other religious leaders over the weekend in responding to the ongoing unrest in their country with a call for peace, dialogue and a return to calm. Source: CNA.

Church officials also issued a prayer for peace on Saturday.

The riots, sparked by the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old of North African origin identified as Nahel M. during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, has led to days of looting, attacks on public buildings, and destructive mob violence in several cities.

Some 45,000 officers were deployed across the country to control the riots, according to the BBC. More than 150 people were arrested on Sunday night, down from more than 700 the night before. 

In a joint statement, religious leaders in France expressed their sorrow over the death and violence. At the same time, they called for a return to peace. “We affirm with one voice that violence is never the right way,” the statement said, decrying attacks on schools, businesses, city halls, and transportation, noting that the residents, families, and children of these neighbourhoods are the first to suffer.

The text was signed by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, president of the French Bishops’ Conference.

Other signatories include leaders of Islamic, Jewish, Orthodox, Protestant and Buddhist faiths. 

In the face of attacks on police and authorities, the signatories called for the strengthening of “necessary trust” between sectors of the population and law enforcement agencies. They encouraged politicians to work together responsibly to restore justice and peace.

The French bishops also proposed a prayer for the restoration of peace in the country, which was made available to parishes and Catholic communities in France.


Unrest in France: Religious leaders call for dialogue and calm (By AC WImmer, CNA)