To sacrifice is, literally, to “make sacred”. As if the act of putting to death preceded what we call the sacred. The work of René Girard goes in this direction. According to the anthropologist, the sacred, like the social life that is organized from it, is born from a first murder. As soon as the men lived together for a long time, rivalry set in. Nothing could put an end to this one, if not the sudden unleashing of the violence of the group on one of its members. Strangely, this first murder brought peace.
The victim was then credited with the power of a god. From this was born the sacrificial practice whose role is to prevent the return of violence by repeating, in a ritual mode, the founding murder. A helpless being, rather outside the community (a baby for example) or kept away from it (a “consecrated” virgin), is given as an offering. We thus charged “the emissary victim” with our violence, our faults, with everything from which a community wanted to purify itself.
According to Girard, the recovery of social cohesion by the ritualization of one’s own violence rests on the ignorance of the “sacrificial mechanism”. The group ignores the innocence of the first victim. By sacrificing the child, he thinks he is satisfying the gods – while he is only perpetuating a murder. It will take the whole history of the Jewish people, then Christ, to stop the sacrificial mechanism: by declaring that he is God while taking our sins upon himself, Christ reveals that the scapegoats are innocent of the evils with which they are charged .
There is therefore only one sacrifice that pleases God: the sacrifice of praise. The Christian practice holds in a paradox: to celebrate the sacrifice which put an end to the sacrifices. The Church thus appears as an attempt to form a community around, no longer the sacrificed victim (“All against one”), but the common refusal of the mechanisms of exclusion and killing.
Become aware of the sacrificial logic
What becomes of sacrifice in a world where Christian practice, “counter-sacrificial”, continues to decline? Will we be all the more freed from sacrificial logic the more we ignore its existence? Apart from any partisan spirit, awakened only by the thought of Girard, I was struck to hear, in all the media as in the Assembly, discussing the need to “sanctuarize the right to abortion”. “Sanctuary”: the word is strong. He also means: “to make sacred.” In the same register, during his speech in Parliament on November 24, Mr. Dupond-Moretti heard, “with a trembling hand”, “consecrate” the right to abortion.
To become aware of the sacrificial logic is already to limit its influence. Also, it is not a question, in a vain debate, of opposing to the rights of women those of “the nascent life”. The victims of this return to the sacred could moreover be the women themselves: if they enjoy a “sacred right”, aren’t the public authorities legitimized in the fact of no longer offering the decent means of to accompany ?
There is no doubt that there are painful situations, lives whose reception seems impossible to us. And certainly, it is not the act, but the right to abortion that the government wants to place at the foundation of our Republic. It only strikes me as a pity that a society which continues to make fostering a child economically difficult and more distressing, comes to hold as sacred a right the enjoyment of which is never, in itself , A joy.
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