Religion: Priestless Sundays

The old stone church of St. Michel in the tiny French village of Rodlinghem is full this Sunday morning. A strapping, red-bearded farmer named Gilbert, 22, leads the choir and congregation in the first hymn. As the notes die, 28-year-old Jean-Paul, a wiry, lean-faced legal clerk standing at the sanctuary lectern, launches into a short homily on the meaning of Lent, likening the penitential season to an automobile overhaul. After more songs and the reading of the Gospel, Pierre, 66, a sturdy, gray-haired retired farmer, leaves his pew and walks to the tabernacle....

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