As Pope Francis’ was still preparing to travel to Strasbourg to give his first speech to the EU Parliament on Monday, a Femen protester mounted the altar in Strasbourg’s gothic cathedral, flashing her naked torso and waving the EU flag. The words “Anti-secular Europe,” were written across her breasts, and “The Pope is Not a Politician” on her back.
This latest stunt was the last in a series of protests against the Pope’s visit to the European Parliament, following on the heels of a staged priest kidnapping last Friday in the Paris suburbs and a three-woman simulation of anal sex with crucifixes in Saint Peter’s Square on November 14. In all three cases, the Femen members have protested what they term “an attack on secularism.” The group is a militant feminist movement of Ukrainian origin that advocates gay rights, radical secularism, and “a world without religion.”
During his lightening, four-hour visit to the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Francis addressed Europe’s loss of its identity and ideals, encouraging it to rediscover its religious roots.
The EU President Martin Schultz has defended the invitation to the Pope, saying the visit could “shake Europe out of its torpor” and was in no way “an attack on secularism.”
Thomas D. Williams can be followed on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome