Rorate Caeli

"Islam is a Religion, only another Religion can beat it." "The Lay Catholic Masses are stunning, but the Hierarchy is inactive."

Hungarian edition of
Michel Houellebecq's Submission (Soumission, Flammarion, 2015 - earlier review here), a novel based on a possible takeover of the France polity by an Islamic political party through democratic means, has been one of the great editorial successes of 2015.

In the most recent issue of the venerable Revue des Deux Mondes, dedicated to "prophetic writers" (that is, writers who express acutely the fears of their own times), Houellebecq, who would surely have become a Catholic convert in more confident times..., speaks on Islam and what is needed to stop it: namely, another religion.


Revue des Deux Mondes – But, since its enemies have declared war to Western Civilization, is a reaction possible among us? In the West, even in France? Or are you pessimistic even on this point?

Michel Houellebecq – It is not clear [what is needed] in order for this reaction to be efficacious. It is not an easy thing to combat a religious sect. Policemen, at the current time, defuse not a small number of attacks, but a purely police-based response to a religious sect is not assured to win it. In general, religions are the ones that beat other religions.


Revue des Deux Mondes – Don't you think that there is as much of a Muslim problem as there is a Catholic problem, deep down? There is not a religion in competition with Islam that is strong enough to establish a balance of power…

Michel Houellebecq – Yet there is also a Muslim problem. There are matters about which Mohammed did not express himself, on behavior in a secular nation, for example; he could not foresee the creation of secular natinons… On the other hand, he did express himself abundantly, several times and in a very clear way, on the behavior to be had with Christians and Jews (...) Besides, indeed, there is no competition for Islam: Catholicism is somewhat at a loss.

Revue des Deux Mondes – Do you lament this?

Michel Houellebecq – Yes, because the masses themselves are very promising. There are stunning manifestations, but the hierarchy is inactive.

Revue des Deux Mondes – The Manif pour tous [against same-sex "marriage"] surprised you?

Michel Houellebecq – A lot. I did not know that all these young Catholics that we saw on television existed: the "veilleurs" ["watchmen", young Catholic men and women praying and keeping watch over government buildings as a sign of silent protest], for instance. It was very surprising.

Revue des Deux Mondes – And how do you view them?

Michel Houellebecq – They are nice. But, you know, I'm too old to convert now. I therefore make do with a kind of nostalgia.

Revue des Deux Mondes – Is it because Europe is not religious that your book crosses borders so well? Do you think that if there were an extremely powerful Catholic Church your book would have had such a success?

Michel Houellebecq – No, in effect. We find it even hard to imagine clearly what a strong Catholic Church could look like, because it's something so far away. I for instance have never seen it in a working state.

Revue des Deux Mondes – In South America?

Michel Houellebecq – No, in South America, the Evangelicals are in the process of winning. I don't actually know a truly Catholic country. I have never visited a true Catholic country.

Revue des Deux Mondes
July-August 2015