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By John Helmer, Moscow

Emmanuel Macron does not recognize that he has been elected to be the president of a secular state.

France, according to Article One of the French Constitution,  is “ a Republic indivisible, secular (laïque),  democratic and social.”

Though he often mistakes the same constitutional point, Vladimir Putin made no mistake when he sent his message of condolence to Macron on the catastrophic fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral this week.In front of Notre-Dame on Monday evening, Macron’s first statement gave precedence to Roman Catholics. “Our thoughts go out to all Catholics and to all French people”, he said – in that order.  Click on Macron’s Twitter feed to watch and read:

Source: https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron

On the morning of Tuesday, the Kremlin published the text of the Russian president’s message. The precedence is clear. Addressed to “the French leader and the entire French nation”, Putin described Notre- Dame as “a historical symbol of France, a priceless treasure of European and world culture, one of the most important Christian shrines. The tragedy that occurred last night in Paris awoke an echo of pain in the hearts of Russians.”

The precedence is clear – France first; Europe second; the world third; the Christian religion (not Roman Catholicism) fourth; the city of Paris fifth; Russian hearts sixth.

Source: http://en.kremlin.ru/

The Russian Constitution is clear. Article 14 declares: “The Russian Federation shall be a secular state. No religion may be established as the State religion or as obligatory.” Should that be challenged by a religious organization, Article 3.4 states: “Nobody may usurp power in the Russian Federation.”  For the full text, click to read.  

Two months ago, Patriarch Kirill (Vladimir Gundyayev), head of the Russian Orthodox Church, attempted to declare himself and his organization the equal of the secular state. In a speech in front of Putin on January 31, he inveighed against secularism: “Today’s secular society is not averse to establish the place for an ‘ethnographic Museum’,  where [Church] believers are no more than  keepers of traditions that are not related to the real life of their contemporaries.”  This was the strongest attack by a churchman on the Russian Constitution since it was enacted in 1993. Read the full story here

One week later, Kremlin officials intervened to remove the Patriarch from seating precedence at the annual Federal Assembly speech by the Russian President. The unprecedented action, removing Kirill from the place he has occupied beside the Prime Minister for the past decade, was  not reported in the Russian press. Read the only report to have been published at the time. 

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