**France’s Front National Lashes Out At The Catholic Church Over Refugees
Three leaders of the French nationalist party Front National have hit out at French bishops for supporting refugees.
They demanded that Catholic leaders stay out of politics and concentrate instead on “filling their churches”.
In one of several post-Christmas radio interviews given by the party figures, the party’s vice-president Louis Aliot complained about the attitude of the bishops towards the Front.
“I’ve never seen a large majority of Catholics voting for us,” he said. “I’ve seen a large majority of bishops spit in our face, one has to say, and systemically denigrate the Front National, its leaders and its policies.”
Aliot went on: “Catholics should concern themselves with filling their churches — which is not certain they can do, let me tell you— and should let the political parties manage public affairs.”
Gilbert Collard, one of FN’s two MPs in the National Assembly, said the church was “disconnected from reality”. He added: “In the name of welcoming others, they reject us.”…
And while party secretary-general Nicolas Bay denied that the interviews were a “declaration of war”, he added that the Front National “didn’t need to hear any lessons from the clergy about migration”.
The attacks came as France prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections in the spring. The race for president appears to be between the Front leader Marine Le Pen and conservative François Fillon.
Fillon enjoys strong support among Catholics, but The Tablet reported that there is division within the FN over whether to seek to woo members of the church.
On the one hand, Le Pen and Aliot reportedly reject the church while others, including Le Pen’s niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, have been trying to appeal to traditional Catholics.**