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Document Details :
Title: The French Catholic Contribution to Social and Political Thinking in the 1930s
Author(s): CALVEZ, Jean-Yves
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Date: December 2000
My paper concerns a rather extraordinary generation which arose in France in the 1930s, reacting against Action française which had long infected French Catholic political and social thought. Action française was a line of thought — and a political movement — inspired by Charles Maurras, himself an agnostic, basing his political thinking on a form of naturalism and positivism (that of Auguste Comte) which clearly divorced politics from religion and ethics. Pope Pius XI forbade the participation of Catholics in that movement in 1926, which was quite a blow and provoked quite an uproar since the majority of Catholic intellectuals were from Action française. The great Thomists of the time in particular (e.g., Fr. Clerissac, for a long time Maritain's guru) and the bishops were reluctant in following the Pope's condemnation. Already the following year however, Jacques Maritain, who had sided with Action française for a long time, rallied to Rome. He contributed to a famous book Rome has spoken (1927). Many followed him. He subsequently changed his basic views, fought for an integration of politics with morality as well as for a certain integration of politics and the Christian message, under the name Humanisme intégral, the title of one of his books. Jacques Maritain was born in 1882, died in 1975. The decisive years of his work are clearly the '30s and early '40s.