In 1936, France Jaulnes was born into a wealthy, Protestant, Cevenol family in Montpellier. Her father, Paul Jaulnes, was a University Professor of Chemistry. While studying classical literature she came across the Church Fathers. In order to have a better understanding of how their theses and issues could relate to the modern world she attended the Theology Faculty of Montpellier where she attended the lectures of Wilhelm Vischer (1895-1988) on the Old Testament and Georges Crespy (1920-1976) on philosophy and sociology.
With the latter, she concentrated more especially on ethical issues and came into contact with the works of the pastor André Dumas and the philosopher Paul Ricoeur. In 1961, she married Yves Quéré, a specialist in solid state physics, who soon became a Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (a renowned University institution), and a member of the Academy of Science. They were married ecumenically and ecumenism was a constant reference in their relationship. They had three children.
Early stages of her career
At the beginning of her career, France Quéré studied the Church Fathers. Father Hamman (1910-2000), who was a specialist in this field, asked her to join him in his work for the Icthus collection, which he supervised for the Migne Editions. She translated and edited several volumes of chosen texts, together with other specialists, both Catholic and Protestant. These were, among others: Rich and Poor in the Ancient Church (1962), the Mystery of Christmas (1963), the Eucharist (1964), Women (1968), Marriage(1969).
In these ancient writings she discovered reality on several levels and different interpretations which coincided with her experience of the modern world and especially the much contested, increasingly changing, condition of women and the transformation of family values.
France Quéré became involved in contemporary issues
Although she never gave up her work on the Church Fathers, she began getting involved in the deep analysis of problems which were crucially important at that time. Her first essay, the Destitution of Hope (1971) revealed her deep conviction of ethical values; she understood the potential of scientific progress, (contraception and assisted reproductive technology among other aspects).
She also understood the many consequences of such changes, many of which were as yet unknown such as violence, both in the home and in women’s professional lives.
Her broad-mindedness and inventive wisdom made her a recognised expert who was often solicited for her views within the Feminist Movement (the Young Women’s Group, Family Planning, the association which fought against rape). She made her opinions known on such controversial subjects as abortion, society’s attitude to the handicapped and terminal illness.
She was active in the Protestant Family Association and became a member of the High Council for the Population and the Family. She was nominated as a member of the Advisory Board of National Ethics when it was founded in 1983. She was also a leading journalist, working regularly for The Cross, the weekly paper Reform and the monthly magazine Panorama; her writings were of lasting importance.
She died of an asthma attack in 1995.
The Protestant Institute of Theology
The Protestant Institute of Theology, which was founded in 1972, is made up of two protestant theology faculties, Paris and Montpellier. Its main role is to prepare for the ministry in the Église Protestante Unie de France, but it is also a well-equipped research centre and an institution which provides continuous education, working in association with the section of religious Science in the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, the Catholic Faculty of Paris, the Institut Supérieur d’Etudes Oecumeniques and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
Paul Ricœur (1913-2005)
Paul Ricoeur considered himself to be a philosopher by profession and Christian in his religion. He was thought to be one of the greatest post-war French thinkers. Ricoeur lived a peaceful life, far from the limelight of the media, a man whose thinking led to positive action. Through « the conflict of interpretations », he sought a fragile balance between the wisdom of compromise and the love of one’s neighbour.
The Young Women's Movement (Mouvement Jeunes Femmes)
The Young Women’s Movement (Mouvement Jeunes Femmes) came into being when, at the congress of the « Young Women’s Christian Association » (Unions Chrétiennes de Jeune Filles) in 1946, some of the participants said they would like to set up a structure in which Christian married women could seek spiritual fulfilment, give support to each other and endeavour to deal with specific problems related to their situation.
The role of protestant women during the 20th century
At the end of the 19th century, protestant women were already very much involved in creating social charities. Early in the 20th century they followed the Anglo-Saxon example and managed associations and assemblies, and progressively expressed their points of view in debates concerning their specific problems.