New year greeting to the religious authorities
(Communique issued by the French Presidency of the Republic)
(Paris, 4 January 2005)
“On the occasion of the ceremonies to mark the New Year, President Chirac received His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, Joseph Sitruk, Chief Rabbi of France, Jean-Arnold de Clermont, President of the Protestant Federation of France and Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Paris Mosque and Chairman of the French Council of the Muslim Faith.
The President began by welcoming this traditional meeting which attests the trustful dialogue in our country between the State and the major religions. He stressed the importance he attached to this dialogue, since the religions make a decisive contribution to "living together". He said they are playing a full part in the public debate in which they articulate a constant concern for justice, peace and solidarity.
Also, as France will be commemorating the centenary of the 1905 Act, the President reiterated his deep-rooted commitment to an open and generous conception of secularity (laïcité), a guarantee of tolerance, mutual respect and unity. Anxious to see the preservation of the balances inherited from our history, he reiterated his commitment to this Act which is at the heart of the Republican pact. He stressed that for him this Act does not obstruct the quest for solutions to the problems which faiths, particularly the Muslim faith, may encounter today. In this respect, he expressed the wish to see decisive progress in the coming year in the training of Imams in France.
The President also welcomed the fact that the Act on conspicuous religious signs was brought into force in a spirit of dialogue and responsibility. He repeated that it was in no way designed to be anti-religion but to maintain a long-standing balance.
Finally, President Chirac repeated his and the government’s determination to oppose all manifestations of intolerance and rejection of the Other. He reiterated that religious freedom and freedom of conscience lie at the heart of the Republic’s values, allowing everyone to practise their faith freely and in complete safety.”