Politics, Society and Christianity in Vichy France

By W. D. Halls | Go to book overview

10
Christians and the Allies

Had it been a Christian act to open hostilities in September 1939? What attitude should Christians adopt towards France's former allies as they continued to wage war? What should be the Christian position after June 1941, when the Russian bear joined the British bulldog in the struggle? Both their countries, now allies, were fighting for their lives, although in France the one was feared for its ideology and the other mistrusted for its single-minded devotion to its own interests, seemingly at the expense of the French Empire. Then, when in December 1941 the United States entered the war, how did this change the situation? Such were the questions that exercised the minds of Christian theologians and intellectuals. Whereas Protestants perhaps judged events with greater equanimity, Catholics pondered what they might mean for the survival of their Church no less than the survival of France itself. The bishops had made their commitment to Pétain absolute. Did this mean a state of permanent neutrality? Few wanted a German victory, but most dreaded the triumph of communism. They found themselves between Scylla and Charybdis.

The Armistice had left France without allies, faced with the aftermath of a war cruelly lost. The general view was either that the Germans would be in London within a few weeks, or that a compromise peace, perhaps at French expense, would be worked out. French public opinion considered, with hindsight, that it had been foolhardy to declare war in 1939. But the question that agitated some Christians was not one of expediency but of principle: had the Allies been morally justified in beginning the conflict, and was there justification for continuing it?

Not until two years later was a detailed statement on the theological position, based upon Aquinas's doctrine of the just war, worked out. A document dated Christmas 1942 and merely signed 'a theologian', circulated clandestinely about this time. Its conclusion was that although the war had not been well prepared for, it was just. A pastoral letter of Mgr Guerry was even cited in evidence. Likewise, a war against the former allies would be unjust. Despite 'recent events'--an allusion to

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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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