Third interview – We must convert Muslims
Brother Michel-Marie: Brother Bruno, in our first two talks, you have made us understand how futile it is for Christians who are unaware of Islam’s true nature as an anti-Christian heresy, and who choose to ignore its claim to being the ultimate revelation of God, to establish a dialogue and an understanding with Islam. On the contrary, you have explained to us that this attitude allows Islam to take advantage of all the opportunities offered to it by our apostate and decadent Christian society in its war, whether an open battle or not, against Christianity.
The logical conclusion of such an observation is the urgent need to restore our own Catholic faith in order to fight Islam and convert Muslims. This is what we must tackle today, in the hope of restoring, tomorrow, the happy “historical community” that we formed with them, which we ourselves betrayed more than they rejected.
In your book on Father de Foucauld, you wrote that “in a time when France is facing Islamic violence at the very heart of the country! In a time when, even in the Church an unbridled ecumenism preaches ‘one sole God for three religions,’”● his writings, which form a complete doctrine of evangelisation and colonisation of North Africa, remain astonishingly topical.
Brother Bruno: That’s for sure! These writings of Father de Foucauld are contemporary with the pontificate of Saint Pius X who, in his Letter on the Sillon, to condemn Christian Democracy in 1910, advocated that the Church and the State, in happy concert, should restore the old institutions that have made their strength and greatness over the centuries. “The City cannot be built otherwise than as God has built it. […]” Our Father pointed out to us that in all his views on the mission and colonisation of North Africa, Father de Foucauld advocated exactly what Saint Pius X recommended for France.
Brother Michel-Marie: What gives you the assurance that this will be possible, Brother?
Brother Bruno: The imminent triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary! Tomorrow. The future is bleak: we will see hard times, and certainly because of Islam which we were foolish enough to favour! But ultimately, it is She Who will carry the victory; it is She Who will convert the Muslims; it will not be the Crusade, nor even our scientific demonstrations, but Her Immaculate Heart’s power of appeal.
Brother Michel-Marie: That doesn’t mean that we won’t have anything to do?
Brother Bruno: Ah, on the contrary, we will have much more work to do than we have now because we will have to multiply the manifestations of the cult, of the devotion that God wants to see us establish in the world in honour of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as the Blessed Virgin Herself revealed in Fatima during Her second apparition on June 13, 1917. For example, Her statue will have to be carried in procession! You will carry Her processional litter, and you will see throngs flocking to Her as they did during the World Route of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima in 1948-1949. In Muslim countries: from Morocco to Cairo, in Black Africa and Asia, Our Lady of Fatima aroused a wonderful enthusiasm among the Muslims who came to pay their homage to Her, to offer Her gifts, to follow the processions! There were conversions!
This was nothing new: Our Lady has always attracted Muslims of good will: I witnessed this at the Basilica of Our Lady of Africa in Algeria during my military service. So it is She Who, after our own conversion, will make possible the conversion of Muslims living in our country. It is She Who will make possible all that we will be able to envisage, all the plans that we will make! We cannot imagine what the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary will be like! It will be marvellous!
Brother Michel-Marie: That being so, my next question loses some of its purpose. I wanted to ask you what to think, once and for all, of the opinion that Muslims cannot be converted?
Brother Bruno: That is an outmoded idea! It dates back to the usurpation of Louis-Philippe on the throne of France, shortly after the conquest of Algeria by King Charles X (1930). Yet our beginnings in Algeria demonstrate quite the opposite! There are many testimonies of the astonishing benevolence of the Muslims towards priests and nuns, to whom they were ready to entrust their children, who came in throngs to religious ceremonies, who sought the arbitration of the bishop of Algiers. I still experienced this fervour during my military service (Oct. 1959-Dec. 1961): I was considered more a marabout than a soldier of a meharist troop. I was a Marabout-Meharist.
Brother Michel-Marie: Today, the Church herself no longer wants to convert them! Many converts from Islam, or Muslims who would like to convert, often come up against coldness and disinterest in the Church herself.
Brother Bruno: That is what is tragic, because to work for their conversion is the very reason for the Church’s existence, instead of “dialoguing” with them as Nostra Aetate exhorts us to do! This shows ignorance of the malice and inurement of Islam, for our loss! Fifty years before the Second Vatican Council, Father de Foucauld was perfectly aware of this “hardened attitude” of Islam, yet he had absolute confidence in the Redeeming Blood of Our Lord that has been shed for all men. This remains the reason for our confidence today, and we persevere, all the more so because we know that it is the Immaculate Conception Who is the Mediatrix of this grace.
Brother Michel-Marie: So what will the conversion of Muslims be like tomorrow? Father de Foucauld thought that it would take a long time to convert the masses because we would first have to educate them sufficiently for them to be able to distinguish between the inanity of their belief and the solidity of ours.
Here is a quote from a letter that he wrote to René Bazin in July 1916: “It is not a question of converting these people in a single day by force, but tenderly, discreetly, by persuasion, good example, good education and instruction, through close and affectionate contact, which is more especially the work of French lay people, who can be far more numerous than priests and can make a more intimate contact.”●
Or again in a letter to Marie de Bondy on June 1908: “The country would need to be filled with men and women religious, with good Christians remaining in the world in order to come into contact with all these poor Muslims, to bring them gradually closer, to instruct them, to civilise them, and finally, when they have become men, to make Christians of them. With the Muslims, it is not possible to make Christians of them first and then civilise them; the only possible way is the other, much slower one: instruct and civilise first, then convert.”●
Brother Bruno: That was the situation in 1910, on the eve of the World War I. In 1962, however, this programme of instruction and civilisation was already very advanced! Unfortunately, two contemporaneous events broke the thread of French Algeria: De Gaulle’s betrayal and the Reformation brought about by the Second Vatican Council. On July 1, 1962, De Gaulle abandoned Algeria and on October 11, of the same year, the Council abandoned the traditional Catholic religion. It was this reformation of the Second Vatican Council that annihilated not only the spirit of Father de Foucauld, but the very missionary spirit of the Church.
The only means he had fifty years earlier with Muslims was his unforgettable smile, the charity, hospitality and example of the evangelical virtues that he practised. Now we must take up the thread again by establishing these prayerful Communities of holy contemplative religious that he was hoping for: communities dedicated to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, living the same simple life as the poorest populations. This is the example he gave us, we only have to follow in his footsteps.
For us, today, in metropolitan France, this remains the only way to reach the large number of Muslims who have now invaded us.
Brother Michel-Marie: And what about the role of the laity? Father de Foucauld very much wanted Muslims to be in contact with good Christians. He had even founded “The Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, united for the practice of the evangelical virtues, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the conversion of infidels,” to make people love the Christian religion, “less by advice than through example, fraternal affection and goodness.”
Brother Bruno: Yes. The aim of this association was the evangelisation of the infidels in our colonies. Through what means? First of all through our own conversion, then by leading an evangelical life in imitation of the Holy Family of Nazareth: Jesus, Mary, Joseph. In this way we would be missionaries in France or elsewhere, by radiating the love of the Heart of Jesus, and I add: of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on our relatives and neighbours, whether they be Christians or not.
Our Phalange of the Immaculate wants to be the worthy heirs of this association, by the will of God, which is to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
Brother Michel-Marie: Ah, what a grace it is to be in line with Father de Foucauld in this way! You read to us an article in Valeurs actuelles in which the Directorate General of Internal Security estimates the number of lawless zones on our territory, which it calls “Islamic ethnic enclaves,” to range between 150 and 200! Before setting up a hermitage elsewhere, we need to restore order in our country first!
Brother Bruno: It’s obvious! But you know, these zones are not something new! It is the bled es-sība: the “country of anarchy” that Charles de Foucauld had also explored in Morocco, where traffic, pillage and murder reigned, under the guise of civilisation. When we finally give our police the means to reduce and “pacify” our suburbs and big cities durably and definitively, they will once again do what the indigenous affairs officers used to do. In a way, it’s the same thing, but for this “pacification” to be definitive, the Christians themselves will have to once again practice their Catholic religion and do their part through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary!
Brother Michel-Marie: There is also the question of education: the majority of young Muslims in France have received formal education in our secular schools, but also in private schools for parents who can afford it. This is therefore a crucial point.
Brother Bruno: We will devote a whole interview to Education during the camp. Yes, education as it will be “restored” tomorrow, which will allow us “to bring them gradually closer, to instruct them, to civilise them” as Father de Foucauld used to say.
Our language, our literature, our history, already exert a powerful attraction on the souls of the best of them, and this will become obvious when our teachers have the liberty to make the little black children, the North Africans, and even the Turks, and God knows who else, in their classes, love and admire Christian France! It is our Christian civilisation that will attract them to Jesus-Marie. This is not a textbook case: we have beautiful testimonies of Muslims attracted by our civilisation and, through it, drawn to Jesus!
Father de Foucauld also knew how to touch the family circle. He had a secret: by sisters! I quote him: “Catholic women religious are called to play the greatest role in the evangelisation of Mohammedanism. No one better than they are capable of making themselves loved, inspiring confidence and attracting gratitude. No one like them can reach Muslim women, who make up half the population, who bring up children to have confidence in Catholics, or to have biases against them. For women are the guardians of prejudice against us, if we are not concerned for them, and they are our best helpers if we show them the truth.”●
Brother Michel-Marie: All this, domestication, education... appears as a first step. Father de Foucauld wrote: this is how they will be men, only then will we be able “to make Christians of them.”
Brother Bruno: This is because only our Christian civilisation forges men by inculcating the practice of sustained effort, work, and honesty: Father de Foucauld is a living example of this in the midst of these populations. He experienced this thanks to the army! He extended the action of the army. Our Father himself wrote the definitive work on it by evoking his service in Marshal Pétain’s Youth Work Camps and their excellent effect on a whole generation who were the product of the insouciance of the inter-war period and the discouragement of the defeat of 1940!
But if it is a question of “forging men,” that brings to my mind our Father’s suggestion of integrating thousands of indigent, unemployed immigrants into the French army to have them work together within this framework for the greatness and security of France, as our Harkis, our military auxiliaries, used to do in Algeria. They could even perform useful community services. Some of those who heard our Father speak about this scoffed at the idea! But it would be no more than a new application of what our French colonial genius had done in the past. Our officers and non-commissioned officers are just as competent as their predecessors in the Army of Africa.
Brother Michel-Marie: Brother Bruno, I read the testimony of a Muslim soldier, of Malian origin, who converted thanks to the military institution: being keen on history, he felt great admiration for the glorious past of his unit, the 1st Chasseur Regiment of Verdun. During an OPEX, he had the opportunity to attend Mass, which greatly touched him, he asked his lieutenant, who gave him a Gospel, a lot of questions. There may be other cases like that.
Brother Bruno: Well, you see? The way that Father de Foucauld wanted to “Frenchify” our Muslim subjects in North Africa was just that: “to give them French souls” by raising them to our level, gradually, taking into account the aptitudes of each one, through contact with our civilisation, which would gradually transfuse making their conversion possible.
Our Father explained that Father de Foucauld was so happy in his Christian faith, you could see it in his smile! He was so Catholic, he was so intelligent in his faith that he wanted to bring it to all those Muslims whose deep spiritual and moral misery he witnessed. He loved Jesus and His Church just as he loved France, and he wanted to make all these poor people love them.
In the future, when we are finally able to give all our treasures: Jesus-Marie and France, to Muslims – starting with all those who are here in France! – there can be no other programme.
Brother Michel-Marie: In conclusion, Brother Bruno, do you believe that France will return to North Africa?
Brother Bruno: Yes, our Father himself announced this return, but on one condition: I can do no better than to quote him: “We should not come to the conclusion: ‘Ah! It really was not worth the trouble. Yes, it was! So much sorrow, so much blood! It would have been better, however, it will be better tomorrow, to go there in the name of Catholic France, to convert and civilise these distant peoples in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, rather than to subject them, only to reject them later on, in the name of republican Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, barbarian and bloodthirsty divinities, that bring misfortune to peoples and the eternal damnation to souls wherever they reign.”●
For my part, I hope for it with all my heart, as the fruit of the blood shed as a martyr of Islam by our venerated Father Charles of Jesus, and of the valiant fight led by his worthy son, Brother George of Jesus Mary, against the abandonment of these lands and these souls for whom we had received the responsibility of civilising. This will come about when Our Lady of Africa wills, we are at Her command!
During the Algerian War, Father de Nantes defended Algeria as a “historical community that had to be saved”. France had created this admirable and complex historical reality – French Algeria – rich with a hundred and twenty years of life together. The two communities were closely mixing. That is an undeniable fact. The particulars of everyday customs show the permanence of contacts and the interweaving of practical life. Everyday relationships were marked with cordiality and affability as natural as those existing among people in metropolitan France. That this amalgamation of civilisations and mixture of populations under sole French sovereignty proceeded so well and without major difficulties on the eve of the insurrection was Algeria’s success and fundamental originality. Algeria seemed more a French province than a colony. In most sectors, Algeria compared favourably with Egypt which, at that time, was considered one of the most developed countries of Africa. For example, the revenue per inhabitant was double that of Egypt.
Bruno de Jésus-Marie, Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916 : Fondateur de Chrétienté, Moine-Missionnaire et martyr, Association de la Contre-Réforme Catholique, 2016, p. 183.
In December 1946, for the official closing ceremony of tercentenary celebrations of the consecration of Portugal to the Virgin Mary, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima was triumphantly carried in procession from Fatima to Lisbon. This procession fostered such popular enthusiasm and devotion that it was decided to continue the procession around the globe. For the next 10 years, Our Lady of Fatima was acclaimed in most countries of the world.
Nostra Ætate is the “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church with Non-Christian Religions” of the Second Vatican Council. Passed in final reading at the Third Session of the Council, and approved by 2221 votes to 88, it was immediately promulgated (October 28, 1965) by Pope Paul VI.
Bruno de Jésus-Marie, Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916 : Fondateur de Chrétienté, Moine-Missionnaire et martyr, Association de la Contre-Réforme Catholique, 2016, p. 216.
Bruno de Jésus-Marie, Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916 : Fondateur de Chrétienté, Moine-Missionnaire et martyr, Association de la Contre-Réforme Catholique, 2016, p. 185.
Bruno de Jésus-Marie, Charles de Foucauld, 1858-1916 : Fondateur de Chrétienté, Moine-Missionnaire et martyr, Association de la Contre-Réforme Catholique, 2016, p. 181.
OPEX stands for “Exterior Operations.” Every year, French military personnel are given the mission of defending France's interests outside its national territory. Thus, French soldiers are engaged in what are known as OPEX or external operations.
Contre-Réforme Catholique no. 107, La France coloniale catholique, July 1976.