Politics, Society and Christianity in Vichy France

By W. D. Halls | Go to book overview

2
Christians and Pre-War Politics

Since Christianity asserts the total sovereignty of God, Christians have difficulty in maintaining political neutrality where policies contradict their faith. Although the Church has always claimed to stand aside from politics, in reality its involvement in them has been perennial. Throughout the Third Republic and the Vichy years remaining aloof was impossible. Before the war, apart from two brief periods--the Ralliement of the 1890s and a 'second Ralliement' just after the First World War--the hostility between Republican secularists and many Catholics continued unabated.

The conflict, which went back to 1789, was reinforced in the 1880s by the secular education laws, and in the early twentieth century by harsh anticlerical measures. By then the State school had to some extent supplanted the Catholic primary school. Hospitals and even cemeteries had been removed from ecclesiastical control. The clergy became liable to conscription. Without state approval religious orders were banned and the 1901 law on associations allowed the sequestration of their property; appropriation was extended in 1908 to other Church possessions. In 1904 religious orders were forbidden to teach, and their schools were nominally closed, although many continued to function illegally. The formal Separation of Church and State in 1905 abrogated the Napoleonic Concordat; religious affairs were entrusted to the Interior ministry, clerical salaries were no longer paid by the State; episcopal appointments were made by the Vatican alone, although the Third Republic always claimed a 'droit de regard' over them. Diplomatic relations with the Holy See were broken off.

With the advent of the Bloc National government after the First World War, on 18 May 1921 links with the Vatican were restored when Charles Jonnart presented his letters of credence to Benedict XV. A further conciliatory step had been taken when 'associations cultuelles', which had been set up at parish level as a device to administer Church property at one remove, and over which the State had greater control than the bishops, were replaced by 'associations diocésaines', whose

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Politics, Society and Christianity in Vichy France
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Berg French Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • List of Abbreviations x
  • Part I - Christianity in Crisis 1
  • 1 - Introductory 3
  • Notes 13
  • 2 - Christians and Pre-War Politics 15
  • Notes 28
  • 3 - Prelude to Vichy 31
  • Notes 40
  • Part II - Aspirations, Realisations and Disappointments 43
  • 4 - The Man of Destiny 45
  • Notes 65
  • 5 - Christians in Disarray 69
  • Notes 84
  • 6 - The Church: New Laws 87
  • Notes 92
  • Part III - The Scapegoats 93
  • 7 - Christians and Jews--I 95
  • Notes 110
  • 8 - Christians and Jews--Ii 113
  • Notes 124
  • 9 - Christians and Jews: The Aftermath 127
  • Notes 144
  • Part IV - Friends and Foes 149
  • 10 - Christians and the Allies 151
  • Notes 162
  • 11 - Christians, Bombings and 'terrorism' 165
  • Notes 174
  • 12 - Christians and Germans 177
  • Notes 195
  • 13 - Christians and the Resistance 199
  • Notes 220
  • 14 - Vichy, the Church and the Vatican 223
  • Notes 236
  • Part V - The Church and Society 239
  • 15 - The Church and Economic and Social Affairs 241
  • Notes 265
  • 16 - Youth Policy and the Church 269
  • Notes 284
  • 17 - Youth Movements 287
  • Notes 307
  • 18 - Christians and Deportation to Germany 311
  • Notes 334
  • Part VI - Settling the Accounts 339
  • 19 - Christians and the Collaborationists 341
  • Notes 356
  • 20 - 'Epuration' and the Higher Clergy 361
  • Notes 379
  • 21 - Concluding Remarks 383
  • Notes 388
  • Appendix I Before the War: L'Aube and the Catholic Intellectual Press 389
  • Notes 391
  • Appendix II Bishops and Archbishops by Province 393
  • Bibliographical Note 397
  • Select Bibliography 399
  • Index 405
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