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Why the French Christian Democrats Were Condemned

  • Oscar L. Arnal (a1)

Extract

The enthusiastic reception with which the Catholic hierarchy greeted the burgeoning Christian Democratic movements immediately after World War II could leave the impression of a solidarity born of a long and stable relationship. In fact, such was not the case. Christian Democracy had failed for a century in its attempts to reconcile Catholicism with the democratic values emanating from the French Revolution. Antirepublican forces within the church had been too strong and the hierarchy too unsympathetic to permit such a reconciliation. In addition, the democratic forces outside the church had come to incorporate anticlericalism as part of their creed. Both camps seemed to share at least one view in common: one could not be both a Christian and a democrat. Only small groups of Christian republicans sought to challenge this assumption by word and deed.

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The author wishes to thank the Ford Foundation for the grant that supported the research for this article.

1. Decree of the Holy Office, February 13, 1908, Les Questions Actuelles, 03 7, 1908, p. 293.

2. Delourme, Paul, Trente-cinq années de politique religieuse ou l'histoire de “I'Ouest-Eclair” (Paris, 1936), pp.133137.

3. “Partie Officielle,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 01 10, 1914, p. 53. For further details about the life and work of Jules Lémire, consult the definitive study by Mayeur, Jean-Marie, Un Prêtre Démocrate, L'abbé Lémire, 1853–1928 (Paris, 1968).

4. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat franĉais sur le ‘Sillon’” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, September 3, 1910, pp. 97–112.

5. “Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 04 17, 1901, pp. 524,526; “Nouvelles Religieuses,” ibid., April 12, 1902, p. 236; “Chronique Diocésaine,” ibid., June 22, 1901, pp. 392–394; “Chronique Diocésaine,” ibid., December 15, 1906, p. 1217; “Nouvelles Religieuses,” ibid., July 29, 1905, p. 705.

6. Barbier, Emmanuel, Les Erreurs du Sillon—Historie Documentaire (Paris, 1906);Barbier, Emmanuel, Les Idées du Sillon, 3rd ed. (Poitiers, 1905).

7. Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, pp. 121122, 168170;“Les réactionaires contre l'Ouest Eclair,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 08 9, 1910, p. 1;Maurras, Charles, “Le Dilemme de Marc Sangnier,” L'Action Franĉaise, 07 1 and 15, 1904, pp. 6976 and 139.

8. “Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 10 26, 1901, p. 681;“Partie Ofilcielle—Communications de l'archevêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 11 23, 1907, pp. 145146;Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, pp. 61, 144145.

9. “Partie Officielle,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 03 22, 1913, p. 295; “Partie Officielle,” ibid., January 10, 1914, pp. 53–57; “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Lille, 02 7, 1914, p. 134.

10. “Mgr. l'évêque de Quimper et le Sillon,” Le Sillon, 08 25, 1906, pp. 135136, 141142;“Partie Officielle—Communications de l'Archevêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 03 30, 1907, pp. 474476; Monseigneur Cabrières, May 1907, in Les Questions Actuelles, June 25, 1910, p. 138; “Nos Dossiers—Le Sillon et l'autorité ecclésiastique,” Le Sillon, 07 25, 1907, p. 48;“Petite Chronique—Le Sillon,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 02 6, 1909, p. 335;Les Questions Actuelles, 06 25, 1910, pp. 126127.

11. Decree, February 13, 1908, Les Questions Actuelles, 03 7, 1908, p. 293.

12. Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, p. 141.

13. “Partie Officielle,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 11 23, 1907, p. 1156;“Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 09 27, 1913, p. 946.

14. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat franĉais sur le ‘Sillon’,” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 3, 1910, pp. 97112.

15. Some of the scholars adopting this position are Breunig, Charles, “The Condemnation of the Sillon: An Episode in the History of Christian Democracy in France,” Church History 26 (09 1957): 227244;Dansette, Adrien, Histoire Religieuse de la France Contemporaine (Paris, 1965), pp. 565704;Partin, Malcolm O., Waldeck-Rousseau, Combes and the Church (Durham, N.C., 1969); and Daniel-Rops, Henri, A Fight for God, 1870–1939, trans. Warrington, John (New York, 19651966), pp. 85236.

16. This point of view is at the heart of positions taken by Dansette, Breunig and Daniel-Rops, in their works cited in the preceding note. In fact, it might be argued that these two stances are different sides of the same coin. Both define the church's position as moderate in the face of external attacks (the first hypothesis) and internal divisions (the second hypothesis).

17. For this perspective, see Latreille, André and Rémond, René, Histoire du catholicisme franĉais: la période ĉontemporaine, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1962), pp. 423569.

18. For this position, see McManners, John, Church and State in France, 1870–1914 (New York, 1973);Caron, Jeanne, Le Sillon et la démocratie chrétienne (Paris, 1967);Vidler, Alec R., A Variety of Catholic Modernists (Cambridge, 1970); and especially the definitive work of Poulat, Émile, Intégrisme et catholicisme intégral: on réseau secret international antimoderniste: La “Sapinière” (1909–1921) (Paris, 1969).

19. Mayeur, Jean-Marie, La Séparation de l'eglise et de l'état (Paris, 1966), p. 26. The words nobis nominavit mean “named by us,” and it was the nobis, “by us,” that was contested. What lay behind this apparent word game was a genuine struggle to determine who controlled the French hierarchy.

20. Les Questions Actuelles, 08 6 and 13, 1904, pp. 290291 and 18.

21. Les Questions Actuelles, 08 6, 1904, p. 292;Partin, , Waldeck-Rousseau, pp. 226227.

22. Les Questions Actuelles, 08 13, 1904, p. 25.

23. Coutrot, Aline and Dreyfus, François, Les Forces religieuses dans la société française (Paris, 1965), p. 32. See also Larkin, Maurice J. M., “The Vatican, French Catholics and the Associations Cultuelles,” Journal of Modern History 36, (09, 1964): 299.

24. X, Pius, Gravissimo Officii, 08 10, 1906,Les Questions Actuelles, 08 18, 1906, p. 7.

25. Liure Blanc du Saint-Siège, Les Questions Actuelles, 01 6, 1906, p. 32. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from the French are mine.

26. Semaine Religieuse de Paris, 09 2, 1905,Les Questions Actuelles, 09 9, 1905, p. 310.

27. Petit, Monseigneur Fulbert, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 1, 1906, p. 66,McManners, , Church and State in France, p. 163.

28. Petit, Monseigneur Fulbert, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 1, 1906, pp. 7071;McManners, , Church and State in France, p. 163.

29. “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 03 24, 1906, p. 296;ibid., September 8, 1906, p. 870.

30. “Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 04 17, 1901, p. 526.

31. L'Osservatore Romano, 03 25, 1899,Les Questions Actuelles, 04 8, 1899, p. 188.

32. “Partie Officielle,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 11 23, 1907, p. 1155.

33. “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 02 1, 1913, pp. 123, 137.

34. Barbier, , Erreurs, p. 87.

35. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat franĉais sur le ‘Sillon’,” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 3, 1910, p. 112.

36. “Partie Officielle—Communications de l'archevêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 11 23, 1907, pp. 145146; “Communications de l'archevêché,” ibid., August 13, 1910, p. 854; Delourme, , Trente-cing années, pp. 144145, 168170. The term abbés démocrales was applied to politically active Christian Democratic priests.

37. “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 06 4, 1910, p. 516. For whatever reason, the integrist monseigneur misrepresented the words of Lémire in the Chamber. In fact, his speech was directed against the anticlerical government: “I do not recognize the right of any person to make us Catholics serfs of a centralized and despotic regime.”

38. “Chronique Diocésaine—le cas de M. Lémire,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 05 18, 1912, p. 471.

39. “Partie Officielle,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 03 22, 1913, p. 295;“Petite Chronique,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 11 8, 1913, p. 134.

40. “Nos Dossiers—Le Sillon et l'autorité ecclésiastique,” Le Sillon, 07 25, 1907, p. 48.

41. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat franĉais surle ‘Sillon’,” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 3, 1910, p. 112.

42. “Partie Officielle—Communications de l'archevêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 11 23, 1907, pp. 145146;Dabry, Abbé, “Réponse,” Vie Catholique, 11November 16, 1907, p. 1; “L'Archevêque de Rennes,” ibid., November 30, 1907, p. 1; Dabry, Pierre, Les Catholiques répobticains: histoire et souvenirs (1890–1903) (Paris, 1905), p. 466.

43. Naudet, Abbé Paul, “Pour qui voter?” Justice Sociale, 04 30, 1904, p. 1.

44. Dabry, Pierre, “Allons à gauche,” Vie Catholique, 11 16, 1907, p. 1.

45. Bodin, Charles, “Un Programme—politique républicaine,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 10 10, 1903, p. 1.

46. du Loû, Emmanuel Desgrées, “L'Action Libérale et les royalists,” L'Ouest -Eclair, 07 2, 1904, p. 1.

47. Fragan, [pseud.?”, “Encore l'union,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 01 25, 1904, p. 1.

48. Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, pp. 120121.

49. Ibid., pp. 140, 149, 159.

50. Gayraud, Abbe Hippolyte, L'Univers, 03 27, 1899,Les Questions Actuelles, 04 8, 1899, p. 184.

51. “Chronique Diocésaine—le cas de M. Lémire,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 09 27, 1913, pp. 944945.

52. Cri des Flandres, March 15, 1914, “Chronique Dioc”saine Semaine Religieuse de Lille, 03 21, 1914, p. 279.

53. Sangnier, Marc, “La Leçon d'une défaite,” Le Sillon, 05 25, 1906, p. 361;“Nos Dossiers—l'Élection de Sceaux,” Le Sillon, 04 10, 1909, p. 247.

54. Fremantle, Anne, ed., The Papal Encyclicals (New York, 1956), p. 201.

55. Ibid.

56. “Nos Dossiers—Le Sillon et l'autorité ecclésiastique,” Le Sillon, 07 25, 1907, p. 48.

57. “Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 04 17, 1901, p. 524;Barbier, , Erreurs, pp. 1719, 212.

58. “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 02 1, 1913, pp. 123, 137.

59. “Petite Chronique,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 11 8, 1913, p. 134.

60. Barbier, , Les Idêes du Sillon, p. 120.

61. Barbier, , Erreurs, p. 87.

62. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat franĉais sur le ‘Sillon’,” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 3, 1910, pp. 106107.

63. “La Question des inventaires—le discours de M. l'abbé L'émire,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 03 10, 1906, p. 1.;“Le cas de l'abbé Lémire,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 11 19, 1907, p. 2.

64. “Chronique Diocésaine,” Semaine Religieuse de Lille, 03 21, 1914, p. 279.

65. “Mgr. L'évêque de Quimper et le Sillon,” Le Sillon, 08 25, 1906, p. 142.

66. Gayraud, , “Modernisme,” Vie Catholique, 11 9, 1907, p. 1;Mgr. 1'évêque de Quimper et le Sillon,” Le Sillon, 08 25, 1906, pp. 141142.

67. Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, pp. 61, 121122;“Les réactionaires contre L'Ouest-Eclair,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 08 9, 1910, p. 1.

68. Delourme, , Trente-cinq années, pp. 120121;“Communications de l'Archevêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 08 13, 1910, p. 854.

69. P.F., “A propos d'une interview de Mgr. Dubillard dans le ‘Figaro’,” Le Sillon, 02 10, 1908, p. 118; Monseigneur de Cabriéres, May 1907, Les Questions Actuelles, 06 25, 1910, p. 138;“Nos Dossiers—Le Sillon et l'autorité ecclésiastique,” Le Sillon, 07 25, 1907, p. 48;“Petite Chronique—Le Sillon,” Semaine Religieuse de Rennes, 02 6, 1909, p. 335;Les Questions Actuelles, 06 25, 1910, pp. 126127;“Respect à Jeanne d'Arc,” L'Action Franĉaise, 02 11, 1913, p. 1;L'Action Française, 03 1, 1906, p. 328;L'Action Française, 06 15, 1906, pp. 395398;Thomas, Lucien, L'Action Franĉaise devant l'eacute;glise de Pie X à Pie XII (Paris, 1965), p. 72;“Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 10 7, 1911, pp. 958959.

70. Dansette, , Histoire Religieuse, pp. 627, 721;X, Pius, Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 06 29, 1912, p. 605.

71. Dansette, , Histoire Religieuse, p. 628.

72. Madiran, Jean, L'Intégrisme: histoire d'une histoire (Paris, nd.), pp. 32, 7375, 108. For the “Statuts du S.P.” and the “Programme du S.P.,” see the documents found in Poulat, , Intégrisme, pp. 118126.

73. Poulat, , Intégrisme, pp. 6567, 7677.

74. Ibid., pp. 88–89, 93–94, 153–154.

75. Ibid., pp. 45–49.

76. Ibid., p. 78; Thomas, Lucien, L'Action Française devant l'église de Pie X à Pie XII (Paris, 1965), p. 81;Nolte, Ernst, Three Faces of Fascism, trans. Vennewitz, Leila (New York, 1965), p. 103.

77. “Derrière M. Monniot—nous atteindrons les responsables,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 08 5, 1910, p. 1;“M. Monniot ne rit plus—mais il cherche à nous intimider,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 08 4, 1910, p. 1;McManners, , Church and State in France, p. 137;Partin, , Waldeck-Rousseau, pp. 221222, 227;“Nouvelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 03 5, 1904, p. 158;“A l'évêché,” Semaine Religieuse de Dijon, 02 27, 1904, p. 136.

78. Naudet, , “La prochaine bataille,” Justice Sociale, 04 19, 1902, p. 1;Trois-Etoiles, [pseud.], “La Politique,” Justice Sociale, 04 12, 1902, p. 1; Emmanuel Desgrées du Loû, “L'Election de Brest—Vive Gayraud!” L'Ouest-Eclair, 04 17, 1902, p. 1.

79. “Les faux dogmes de Ia Révolution,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 10 24, 1903, pp. 673677; “La Vérité pleine et entière peut seule nous sauver,” ibid., February 13, 1904, p. 98.

80. Poulat, , Intégrisme, pp. 12, 68, 78.“Les Papiers Montagnini—Comment on fait des suspects,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 04 6, 1907, pp. 12;“Les Papiers Montagnini,” L'Ouest-Eclair, 04 13, 1907, p. 1.

81. “Novelles Religieuses,” Semaine Religieuse de Cambrai, 10 7, 1911, pp. 958959;“Une Chaire dite Syllabus fondée par des laïques,” Semaine Religieuse de cambrai, 10 20, 1906, p. 1019. It is Maurras' avid defense of the Syllabus and medievalism that caused an ultra like Monseigneur Delassus to overlook the modernism and agnosticism of the royalist leader. The Neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain held a similar attitude toward Maurras until after the condemnation of the Action Française in 1926–1927.

82. Cardinal de Cabrières, quoted in Thomas, , Action Française, p. 83; Monseigneur Charost quoted in Thomas, , Action Française, p. 83;Weber, Eugen, Action Française (Stanford, 1965), p. 222.

83. McManners, , Church and State in France, p. 74: “If you follow my advice, you will have four hundred Catholic deputies in France, and you will establish the monarchy. I am a monarchist myself.”

84. Powers, Francis J., ed., Papal Pronouncements on the Political Order (Westminster, Md., 1952), p. 47;McAvoy, Thomas T., The Americanist Heresy in Roman Catholicism, 1895–1900 (Notre Dame, Ind., 1963), pp. 231235; Leo XIII, Graves de Communi, January 18, 1901, in Gilson, Etienne, ed., The Church Speaks to the Modern World: The Social Teachings of Leo XIII (Garden City, N.Y., 1957), pp. 317, 319320, 325326.

85. The more academic and intellectual facets of the pope's integrist mindset may be examined in his antimodernist encyclicals Lamentabili Sane (July 3, 1907) and Pascendi Dominici Gregis (September 8, 1907). Pertinent sections of these documents may be consulted in Fremantle, , Papal Encyclicals, pp. 197, 199201, 204, 206. In addition, Pius X set up structures within the educational apparatus of the church to insure that seminaries would be purged of modernist ideas, literature, teachers and students. For material relevant to these activities, see X, Pius, Motu proprio, Les Questions Actuelles, 11 30, 1907, pp. 195197;Les Questions Actuelles, 10 30, 1909, pp. 6768;X, Pius, Les Questions Actuelles, 10 22, 1910, pp. 23, 68, 15, 35;Ibid., November 12, 1910, p. 94.

86. X, Pius, letter on the “Action Populaire Chrétienne” in Les Questions Actuelles, 01 9, 1904, pp. 34.

87. “Lettre de notre Saint Père le Pape Pie X à l'épiscopat francais sur le ‘Sillon’,” August 25, 1910, Les Questions Actuelles, 09 3, 1910, pp. 110, 112.

88. Poulat, , Intégrisme, pp. 89, 67, 7778.

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