Politics, Society and Christianity in Vichy France

By W. D. Halls | Go to book overview

15
The Church and Economic and
Social Affairs

Religion before the war was most practised by the bourgeoisie: the Church had largely lost the battle for the working class. As an institution it supported the established order, and under the influence of Action Française, until the Ligue was banned, and even afterwards, was strongly patriotic. Traditionalists within it held up an almost medieval ideal, where the peasant family worked the land--until 1934, it must be recalled, less than half the population lived in towns. Where industry existed, the ideal was of a docile work-force ruled by an elite.

This view of the relationship of the Church to the economy and society was challenged by another trend which may be broadly characterised as social catholicism. This had many different points of emphasis. Mounier's philosophy of personalism, for example, as regards society, sought to discover a rationale based neither on capitalism nor on socialism. Others such as Joseph Folliet, of the review Chronique sociale, stressed social justice. Whilst social catholicism held its main purpose ultimately to be evangelisation, it believed the Church had a major role to play in social and even political life.

Social catholicism was based on the encyclical Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, promulgated in 1890, when he was already eighty years old--the same Pope who two years later had urged Catholics to rally to the Republican regime. The encyclical contrasted the wealth of the rich to the misery of the poor, and the easy life of the employer to the hard lot of the worker. It exhorted both social partners to acknowledge their mutual duties. The worker should not be treated as a slave, a mere tool for the production of profit, but his employer had a right to expect him to give of his best. 1 These precepts of the encyclical had been reinforced in another papal pronouncement, Quadragesimo Anno ( 1931). In this Pius XI had likewise shown a distrust of capitalism as well as socialism or communism.

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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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