Politics, Society and Christianity in Vichy France

By W. D. Halls | Go to book overview

5
Christians in Disarray

The sense of unease felt by Catholics with the realisation that there would be no early end to the war and as the State became more authoritarian, continued to grow. Already strictures coming from the regular orders and minor clergy were not unusual. To a student audience the Abbé Marc Lallier, although insisting the regime was legitimate and must command loyalty, claimed that in 1939 France's war had been just; however, one might well be estranged from one's former allies without denying past friendship. 1 Moreover, personal comments on Pétain were sometimes made from the pulpit, as we have seen.

Protestants were alarmed by the turn of events. It is true that Pastor Boegner, as head of the Reformed Church, wrote thanking Pétain for the 'great work of moral renewal that you have undertaken in our country', and for his 'solicitude' for the family and young people. 2 This did not deter him a few weeks later from making public his anxiety about the treatment of the Jews. Indeed by October 1941 some of his pastors had been interrogated by the Sûreté about their loyalty. 3

Even such a spirited supporter of the Marshal as Mgr Piguet, Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, voiced his unease when his clergy were invited to take an active part in the departmental propaganda organisation established by the Information ministry. In an intercepted letter to his neighbour, the Bishop of Tulle, he expressed no doubt as to where the line between politics and the Church should be drawn: 'Our position of utter loyalty to the Marshal's government and our spiritual role proscribing enthralment to any political regime prevails, and resolves the question of Propaganda delegates. This means of serving the government cannot and must not be ours.' 4.

A vague sentiment that the Church might have gone too far initially in identifying itself with the political aims of the regime thus surfaced. An ACA meeting on 4 and 5 September 1941 now asserted that certain activities, perfectly respectable in themselves, bordered on the political, and clerical participation in them was inappropriate. Priests involved in them should discreetly withdraw. Lay leaders of Catholic movements

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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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