Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation

L'Eglise catholique et les églises dans le régime français de laÏcité

Abstract : This study aims to analyze the nowadays situation of the Catholic Church in the French society by studying the management and the use of the catholic churches, out in the field. This analyze take two main factors in account : the legal status of the worship places in France (above all the one of the catholic churches) and the recent history of catholicism. The legal status of churches is defined by the legal system stemmed from the law of 9th december 2005. The history of the catholicism is marked by the second Council of the Vatican and its liturgical reform, and by the recent options of the French catholicism for a new visibility, after the « burying » period that followed the council.
With the management and the use of churches,the Catholic Church is confronted with the points of view of the three types of partner : users (no matter how), public owners (generally town councils) and the Historical Heritage Service of the Ministry of Arts (the State). Users have not any juridical ability of acting in this field, but their opinion conditions and justifies the action of the other categories of actors. Every category wants to safeguard churches and to keep them for the catholic worship, but for different motives. Users consider generally them as their cultural and identity heritage ; the town councils share this point of view but they are too concerned about managing at best buildings that are heavy to upkeep and little used ; The Heritage Service wants to keep them too for the catholic worship, but to retain as well as possible their cultural « authenticity ».
The Catholic Church must not only take the perceptions of the users, the right of the (mostly public) owners into account, but it must consider the Heritage Service authority too, in the very frequent case of listed buildings. This case puts this Church in competition whith the experts of the Heritage Service about the interpretation of its own religious symbols. Above all, it must organize worship and welcome (take in ?) the communauty of believers in churches. It is taken (caught ?) between the synchronic temporality of the « now and there » worship and the diachronic one of its presence as a main institution of sense, from the origins, in the French society. The Catholic Church must keep itself set between both of this temporalities to carry on with being a particularly relevant sense resource amoung these which are contesting for the « sens market » in France.
The number of catholic believers and priests continuously decreases. Even so, the French society continues to make public or private requests for using the churches to the Catholic Church. It quite widely complies whith these requests, trying to control the cultural usings as well as the social ones. Requests and replies show that the Catholic Church keeps a quite particular role in the French society. This role could be considered as an element of a "catho-laïc" civilian religion, and makes this Church remains a reference institution, even though a very small number of French people consider themselves as its belongers and a still smaller number consider that they are bound by its moral, particularly sexual, standards.
Document type :
Complete list of metadata

Cited literature [40 references]  Display  Hide  Download
Contributor : Anne Perrin <>
Submitted on : Sunday, June 10, 2007 - 2:53:35 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 4:05:39 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, April 8, 2010 - 7:29:14 PM


  • HAL Id : tel-00153367, version 1



Anne Perrin. L'Eglise catholique et les églises dans le régime français de laÏcité. Sociologie. Ecole pratique des hautes études - EPHE PARIS, 2005. Français. ⟨tel-00153367⟩



Record views


Files downloads