Historians troubled by upcoming canonization of Charles de Foucauld

Some scholars see future saint’s legacy tied too closely to French colonialism in Algeria where he was murdered in 1916

Claire Lesegretain France July 13, 2020

After the Congregation for the Causes of Saints announced last May that a miracle had been attributed to the intercession of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, the canonization of the man known as the universal brother can now go forward.

But not all historians are pleased with the news.

The canonization of Charles de Foucauld would be a denial of history, wrote Professor Ladji Ouattara in an article that appeared in the July 2 edition of Le Monde.

His work would be inseparable from the colonial conquest of the Sahara

The work of the ‘hermit of hoggar’ is inseparable from France’s colonial conquest of the Sahara, claimed Quattara, who teaches history at universities in France and Niger.

He cited the works of a number historians, such as Jean-Marie Muller, who in 2002 denounced the deep nationalist and colonialist convictions of this Saharan hermit who defended a total war against Germany during the Great War . 

Get the latest from La Croix International. Sign up to receive our daily newsletter.

Quattara noted that Hélène Claudot-Hawad had, that same year, condemned de Foucauld’s direct involvement in colonial military operations against the rebel tribes in Algeria.  

And he noted that more recently, in 2014, André Bourgeot had criticized the future saint’s ideas in favor of a disorganization of the Tuareg socio-political structures .

Ouattara, who did his doctoral thesis at the Catholic University of Louvain on the Tuareg people, claimed that as a former second lieutenant, de Foucauld personally took part in several military tours with Captain Dinaux, the aim of which were to establish the submission of the Tuaregs of Hoggar and to get a tax accepted that would be a tangible mark of this submission .

Bishop emeritus Claude Rault of Laghouat (Algeria) rejected that claim.

Charles de Foucauld’s aim was not to directly take part in a military operation, but to use it to extend his knowledge of the Tuareg world, the 79-year-old bishops said.

He had no other way to do this than to rely on these expeditions, said Rault, a White Father missionary who led the Laghouat diocese from 2004-2017.

The traumas of colonization

John Paul II moved de Foucault’s sainthood cause forward in 2001 by declaring him venerable .

Then four years later Benedict XVI decreed that the French-born monk had died as a martyr and approved his beatification. Now, after the recent verification of the miracle, Pope Francis is to declare him a saint.

Who, really, is Charles de Foucauld? How does Africa view his future canonization while the traumas of colonization still affect Tuareg societies? Quattara asked provocatively

He said the canonization would likely appear dissonant in the current context of dismantling colonialist figures.

Furthermore, he noted that it comes five years after the controversial canonization of Junipero Serra (1713-1784) in the United States.

But Bishop Rault argued that Charles de Foucauld never stopped denouncing the exactions of a colonization that consisted in appropriating the great Algerian south to the detriment of the Tuareg people and culture .

Moreover, he said de Foucauld’s French-Touareg dictionary remains an essential reference to this day.

His vision of colonization was always humanized and humanistic, the bishop said.

He pointed out that the soon to be acclaimed saint often asked that Tuareg leaders be taken into consideration and that certain political powers be entrusted to them .

Betraying the trust of the Tuaregs

His love for the Tuareg people has always prevailed, Bishop Rault emphasized.

Charles de Foucauld wanted to live among the people and become their brother. He took the risk of staying where the army was not present so as to mark his distance from them, the bishop said.

But he also admitted that it would be healthy for the Church to reveal to the general public all the grey areas: it is time to tell the limits of this man who has been so hallowed .

He acknowledged that the revered monk said nothing about the violence and had even wished for the physical disappearance of this or that Tuareg . 

But even though Charles de Foucauld did not succeed in everything in his life, holiness is not the same as perfection, Bishop Rault insisted.

Murdered in December 1916 in Tamanrasset

Jean-Claude Boulanger, the recently retired bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux in France, is a member of the priestly fraternity Iesu Caritas of Charles de Foucauld and author of a book on the hermit of Tamanrasset.

He quoted a letter that the aménokal (Tuareg religious leader) Moussa agg Amastasent sent to Madame de Blic, sister of Charles de Foucauld, on December 25, 1916 — following the monk’s assassination on December 1.


“As soon as I learned of the death of our friend, your brother Charles, my eyes closed; everything was dark for me; I shed many tears. His death caused me great sorrow”, the aménokal wrote.

In the same letter, he asked Madame de Blic to tell her family that Charles the marabout is not only dead for you alone; he is dead for all of us. May God have mercy on him and may we meet with him in heaven!

Bishop Boulanger pointed that in Islam a marabout is venerated as a saint.

It is surprising that Moussa could write ‘our marabout’ and that he plans to meet him in the same paradise, the 75-year-old bishop said.

He added that even if all the Tuaregs did not necessarily share the aménokal’s opinion, it does not negate the fact that it was through his entire life that Charles de Foucauld tried to bear witness to Jesus of Nazareth and the Gospel .


I’m always advising people not to turn any human being into a saint – because ALL us humans have feet of clay.

This is the first time I have heard these worrying criticisms of Brother Charles of being a collaborator in the French colonisation of Algeria.

And, I am disappointed.

We humans are quite determined not only by our genes but by our upbringing and the all-pervading culture we live in.

And when we are TRYING to be Christians it is very difficult for us to TOTALLY have the mind of Christ.

There is also the question of the practicalities of everyday living.

When I was on the Falls Road from 1978 to 1983 anarchy reigned.

The RUC were rendered useless by their alienation from the population.

What did one do to get justice for good causes.

One approached the “authorities” that reigned there and made one’s difficult way between various forces.


I hope Brother Charles acted with integrity in his dealings with the French invaders and the native Toureg people.

I imagine it was very difficult to always get a balance?

And perhaps one had to settle, sometimes, for the lesser of two evils?

Brother Charles is still dear to me.

And as the bishop said: “There is a difference between holiness and perfection”.


Hi sure didn’t the Church run off the back of the Roman Empire. Should Peter still be Pope. What is the exact historical context



Bethehokeys you’d need a month of Sundays to answer that one.
Sure didn’t Constantina kick start it far and wide.
‘Tis like an auld steam engine now with no stopping at this stage.
Isn’t Francis Pope. Great question. Peters role in the Christian story.
And did Peter box above his weight.
A very long wagging winding curly tale.
Not as straight as many might think.
Anyways keep the faith no matter who’s captain command.
May the good Lord bless us…+

Bye Bye Fly Hi.


“These wounds do not draw groans from me; rather they draw you into my heart” (Sermons of St Peter Chrysologus) Is not one of the striking images of Easter that Thomas touched the wounds of Christ not finding a shameful reality but finding God? Perhaps an element in the cult of saints which is neglected is the fact that they were humans who had a story and a journey in faith and at journey’s end were still limited in some ways. I think we live in a society which in spite of all its social progress cannot always handle the human condition with the necessary care. Maybe the true story of the saints, not just the legends about them, can help with this also. +Pat makes the distinction between holiness and perfection, what hope of perfection do any of us have, only the fact that the Lord loves us even in our woundedness?


@ 11:49 pm

Good post.

Yes, there’s a distinction to be made between perfection and holiness. Perfection is a call to become what we can become-fullness or maturation. Holiness, is fundamentally, to be different. God is HOLY as in a different form of being- ‘HOLY BEING’. Christians are called to be in the world but not of the world- highlighting their difference from the world through their lives, attempting to become-‘perfect’-or fully mature human beings on all levels particularly spiritually through intimacy with God.
(In other words a call to holiness- Be holy as I Am Holy).
The glory of God is the person fully alive. (St. Irenaeus).
Saints are simply rehabilitated sinners but are more evolved as human beings.
The basic difference between the great saint and great sinner is, the great saint, through consciousness or union with God, knows he/she is a great sinner vis-a-vis relationship
with God. The great sinner doesn’t have such consciousness or union.


Do you want your old lobby washed down Con Shine
Do you want your old lobby washed down
She sighs every day as she passes this way
Do you want your old lobby washed down?

Is mise le meas,


12.25: Seamus, stop making an utter fool of yourself. Even in the most serious of topics and those that deserve intelligent analysis, you effortlessly morph into an idiotic and imbecilic child. You trivialize very serious topics with your infantile commentary. Try to look intelligent and quit the silliness.


My brothers and sisters in Christ! 12:25am was not a message posted by my humble self.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Is mise le meas,


Liked by 1 person

Now you see how you come across to others. Self awareness is a wonderful thing.
Vade retro Satana.


Peace be with you my brothers and sisters in the FSM.
I love it when a troll gets trolled.


There is a fundamental moral issue at work here. It’s clear that Bl Charles rejected the racist and colonialist presumptions of contemporary French society, yet he is being criticised on the basis that if you are a member of a racist society, you are a racist personally and there’s nothing you can do about it. This is the evil socialist doctrine that the society is the fundamental moral authority, and that the individual human as a moral agent is created by it. Such a claim is utterly opposed to Christianity, which of course believes that the ultimate human moral agent is the individual soul, and is the reason why socialism is irreconcilable with Christian belief. However, this perversity is not confined to socialists. Witness the British bombing of Dresden at the end of the Second World War, where they murdered Jews in hiding and people trying their best to oppose the Nazi regime. It didn’t matter to the British; they deserved to die because they were Germans, and hence guilty.


Not condemned by all of Christianity. Your view also fails to take into account the Christians’duty to challenge the culture and accept the influence of culture on us.
The most dangerous thing about your view is that it evades the colonial basis for much of Europe’s richness.
The colonising nations in Europe have to accept the reality that their richness is built off colonialism elsewhere. To ignore this is to ignore the plain fact that if you live in a so-called developed country you share in this wealth stolen from elsewhere.
It is also essential to review history, because colonial history has attempted to erase the pre-colonial history of the colonised nations. For example, the claims that the Great Zimbabwe monument couldn’t conceivably be built by Africans or the claims that white Afrikaners are the Aboriginal inhabitants of South Africa.
In fact to try to evade the weight of colonialism is racism.


The RC Church, for its faults, does claim that its existence is justified by the saving of individual souls. Other Christian denominations, notably the Calvinist ones, focus instead on a wish to create a perfect society -and hence are much more coercive (RCs have never chained up children’s swings in public recreation grounds on Sundays). British socialism has strong roots in Calvinism, especially the Scottish variety and, as Calvinists claim that RCs are pagans not Christians, so I’m tempted to argue that Calvinists are not Christians but are closer to Islam.
I’m being misrepresented here; my view is that a necessary part of Christianity is a critical view of the social status quo, and the historical myths that underlie it. In this, I stand with St Augustine. Christianity’s disasters and failures derive from becoming the excuse for all kinds of social evils, not just colonialism but also the existence of privileged noble and “respectable” classes claiming a disproportionate share of the society’s wealth. The basic reason that I hate the British monarchy so much is that it gives historical approval to just that.


You must be a RC yourself, with its hallmark of turning any conversation into a rant about everyone else and never playing nicely with the other children.
You are also so wrong with your sweeping generalisation about Calvinism and Britain, that you really should stay out of trying to talk about theology.
BTW you will find the view that RCs are not Christian is quite widespread among many Protestants.
You actually don’t have the first idea do you.


This blog is attracting new trolls such as Seamus le mess. Such is the depth of this blog has gone to the dogs.

Bishops here are delighted at how far has it fallen re this blog. They are chuckling like the birds.

Also they are happy that mass will be opened next month. They were cowards cos they didn’t speak until v late say 1 year of silence. Feck them.


I agree with deaf guy Pat. The bishops have failed in their attempts to starve you out and have your blog shut down. The next natural step is to sabotage your blog. Seamus’s comments have several hallmarks of a troll:
1. He comments frequently on various subjects
2. His comments come across as often unrelated to any other comments (like the octave of Pentecost comment yesterday).
Obviously he isn’t the only possible sabotage merchant here, and while you allow a certain leeway in humorous comments, my advice would be to tighten up the moderation for a bit. If you do this you will get fewer comments but it will send a clear message to potential saboteurs that you are serious in your mission of exposing church corruption.


11:17: Don’t tell Pat how to run HIS blog. This blog is not dependent on your participation. You wouldn’t be missed if you decided not to participate on here anymore.

Liked by 1 person

My point that there are ecclesial saboteurs commenting on the blog is amply illustrated by their fury directed at me at the very suggestion they could be prevented from commenting.
‘I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for you pesky kids’.


Please note. Bishop Pat’s Killaloe friend wrote very well on Sunday. I agreed with what he had to say. These are the actions of someone who comes in peace.

Is mise le meas,




Did say about bishops here in Ireland grinning at the state of this blog. No wonder they are chuckling like the little birds when they are happy. I would imagine+ Nicholas from UK.

Its a mistake re deaf guy quitting which I should made it more clearer to the reader. It should read as DG quitting rcc. But I left it blank re 👆🙈.

Greek orthodox or Russian or Christian group. I don’t want to be seen as propping up their corruption or sexual crimes.


Who empowered Michael Collins to live his double lifestyle in Scariff. Michael needs to apologize to her family 👪. Pat I have spoken to Tom Ryan regarding this issue.


Dear Reader,
To aid your investigation into Rev
Fr. Michael Collins. Examine the case materials surrounding why Michael was denied Ordination for 1 year pending a review.
Des Hillary, Iggy and Tom Ryan acted as negotiators with the lady and her family. A financial settlement paid half by the Diocese and half through Collin’s Family accountancy Business in Ennis.


‘Anorchy reigned’, you say, +Bishop Pat? I cannot for the life of me imagine what it is like to constantly be under those conditions. Awful, I have no doubt.
These days, certainly in England, we have various orignisations and systems which are set-in-place for the benefit of everybody in our society – the Social Services and the Probation Services / Mersey Care (Mersey Care “NHS” are specifically there for Anybody who comes into contact with the legal system or the Courts – both Civil or Criminal – and its staff are mostly registered Social Workers and Probation Services Personnel.
Incidentally, all medical and mental health / counseling staff and facilities in Merseyside Courts and prisons are provided by Mersey Care “NHS”. Although Merse Care are Not part of mainstream NHS Trust; they come under the Department & Services for Criminal Justice…), essentially, all those involved with the Civil Authorities…
This is just to name the Official ones — sure, everybody knows that there are others out there and these tend to be registered charities; but the important element is all these organisation should be there for the benefit of ALL PEOPLES and practice fairness and Unbiasedness in their approach and processes in solving any imbalances of justice — straight down the line.
A clear and unbiased view in finding and scoping injustices is always better when combined with fairness and objectivity – it goes without saying, really.
Did you not have these “systems” in Ireland between 1978 and onwards, +Bishop Pat?
Where they not there?
I have listened, firsthand, to people’s experiences within Europe from the 1950s, 60s, and onwards.
30 or 40 years later and have things changed much? Or have the things just been masked over?
The abuse of power and authority are not popular crimes to be attributed to in our modern times, and ertainly not when considering all the crimes against humanity which our history books are so sadly adorned with.
Love and respect for All of human life is the only way forward, nowadays. Any other way just won’t work…
It’s harder to go against the grain, is it not? 😋 X


I see Arlene has been thrown under a bus by the Duppers. There will be lots of reasons, politically, that they are unhappy with her. Mainly Brexit, I imagine. But, they / she did play a very dangerous game over the last couple of years, holding the UK government and parliament hostage to their demands and greedy need for money, so perhaps they should not be too surprised when they get dumped and shat upon. Politics is a dirty business. However, what really concerns me is the additional reason on the part of some for taking away support from her – namely, that she is too socially liberal ! This refers to her abstaining in some votes about same sex marriage / unions / LGBTQ+ issues recently. They say she has gone soft. In reality, what they mean is that she did not follow chapter and verse their nasty and prejudicial view about people of difference. I think these bible bashing protestant Duppers need to be careful. They are desperate to be part of the UK and British, but on their own terms. They need to realise that the UK in the majority has moved on from the issue of treating people of difference with respect and dignity and equal standing before the law in all matters. If they want to indulge in their horrible homophobic and discreditable views and behaviour, they will find themselves slapped down by the Supreme Court. I think it would be best for them to just go their own way and establish an independent NI which we can all shun and avoid. We don’t think of them as British anyway. Just a lot of nasty protestant Duppers.


vast majority of English people haven’t a clue about Northern Ireland. The Scots are rooting for a United Ireland and poor Wales is terrified to open its mouth incase they put their foot in it.


“Establish an independent NI…….”! You say @5:29
What about the rest of us who’ve had to live here and put up with their antics?
I’d be happy for them to set up their own independent NI, ……somewhere out in the Atlantic if the seagulls don’t mind too much.


“I’m always advising people not to turn any human being into a saint”

You might be advising that Bishop Pat but there are many people who do turn to saints. People can relate the humanity of the saint and also something that the saint symbolises that gives them a direction in their lives.

Is mise le meas,



See here latest newsflash re Dublin diocese. It seems to us that rcc especially diocese of Dublin aren’t interested in the protection of a child. See here and any comments welcome.
The Archdiocese of Dublin has cut the number of staff in its child protection office in half, amid major redundancies in response to Covid-19 financial difficulties


I live in the Isle of Man. Good evening.
If you asked the Manx people what was their opinion of Ulster Protestant people they would tell you that they think they are socially backward, homophobic bible thumping redneck retards.
As a Protestant brought up in Millisle but married here into a catholic family I agreed.


You @ 10:07, have had the good fortune and sense to leave behind the middle ages thinking and mindset you refer to. Well done. Regrettably, many of the loudest defenders of “Protestant Ulster” have no experience or understanding of normality outside their own enclaves, whether those are physical neighbourhoods or communal associations.
Those brought up to the banging of the Lambeg drum are invariably deaf to a wider appreciation of other music.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s