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