AJCF concerned about proposed beatification of controversial 19th-century French priest

Pope Francis has recently indicated his desire to proceed with beatifying the French priest Léon Dehon, whose sainthood process was earlier halted by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France  (AJCF) has expressed grave concerns about Dehon’s anti-Semitic writings, and about the negative implications of such a beatification for Jewish-Catholic relations.

The statement reads as follows (English translation by Murray Watson):

The Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France (AJCF) is deeply distressed to learn that Pope Francis has expressed his intention to support the beatification of Father Léon Dehon, which had been blocked in 2005 by Benedict XVI on account of Dehon’s anti-Semitic writings. Our former president, Paul Thibaud, clearly expressed his opposition to the proposed beatification at that time, stating that “while Léon Dehon’s contributions in terms of his social and pastoral action are undeniable … it is unacceptable that people seem to be holding him up as a model since, at the same time, he demonstrated serious blindness in this regard, and spread flawed ideas”.

Not only has the Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France not changed its position, but it wishes to express its deep concern regarding the serious repercussions such a beatification could have, as well as the message it would inevitably send to our contemporaries. In our society, faced with such a worrying rise in anti-Semitism, such a decision seems even more inappropriate.

June 16, 2015
Jacqueline Cuche
Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne de France

To read this communiqué in the original French: