Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism, and Action Française

Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism, and Action Française: The Clash over the Church's Role in Society during the Modernist Era

Peter J. Bernardi
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism, and Action Française
    Book Description:

    This work casts light on contemporary arguments over social Catholicism and the believer's role in society by illuminating a similar dispute among French Catholics during the Modernist Crisis (1909-1914)

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1837-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Joseph Komonchak

    Peter Bernardi’s book sets out a controversy that divided Catholics in France in the first three decades of the twentieth century. At first sight, then, it could appear as of interest only to historians, who will greet it, I am confident, as an important contribution to the history of Catholic thought in the last century.

    But the controversy analyzed and described addresses issues so basic in importance and so broad in implication that the work will also be read with profit by others outside of the historical guild. The controversy was about how the Catholic Church should respond to the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    How should the Church realize its public mission? How do different theological and philosophical commitments influence the conception of the Church’s role in the public square? The pluralism of modern culture usually entails that the Church seek common ground with those who are not its members in order to promote evangelical values. These collaborations are seldom without controversy. Indeed, they pose the risk of compromising the integrity of the Church and its Gospel message. For example, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the Church in Latin America was deeply conflicted over forms of liberation theology that...

  7. CHAPTER 1 The Semaines sociales under Attack: Prelude to the “Testis” Series
    (pp. 7-45)

    How did the “Testis” essays come to be written?¹ As a blind old man, two years before his death, Blondel publicly recalled the circumstances that prompted the “Testis” series. The occasion for his reminiscence was the 1947 Semaine sociale that had convened in Paris. Europe was just emerging from the devastation of the Second World War and was now facing the daunting task of rebuilding her shattered societies. The venerable “philosopher of Aix” had been invited to address the semainiers with whom he had had a fruitful association since before the First World War.² Presented in absentia by his son...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The “Testis” Series
    (pp. 46-88)

    The treatment of the controversies involving the Semaines sociales in the preceding chapter has served to set the stage for the exposition of Maurice Blondel’s “Testis” series. Reviewing those earlier controversies has been intended to be something more than recounting the circumstances that led to the Blondel-Descoqs polemic. The nature of the criticisms directed at Lorin anticipate issues pertinent to the latter dispute. Furthermore, the content of the first chapter conveyed a sense of the complexity of mentalities involved in the thorny sociopolitical and religious questions of this era.

    This second chapter will expose the context and content of Blondel’s...

  9. CHAPTER 3 An Apology for an Alliance with a “Catholic Atheist”
    (pp. 89-118)

    Between July and December 1909, Pedro Descoqs, a young French Jesuit priest, published a five-part series entitled “À travers l’œuvre de M. Ch. Maurras: Essai critique” [“A Perusal of the Writings of Mr. Ch. Maurras: A Critical Essay”] in the Jesuit periodical Études.¹ Descoqs intended his first major publishing effort to be a critical assessment of the ideas of the agnostic political theorist and cultural critic Charles Maurras and the ascendent, neomonarchist movement Action Française, of which he was the brilliant ideologist. His study was designed to yield a carefully measured answer to this question: “Is there a danger or...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The Poisonous Fruits of Monophorism
    (pp. 119-144)

    Having cast a light on the speculative roots of the mentality that he dubbed “monophorism,” Blondel traced the “practical conditions and intellectual, social, [and] religious consequences of these speculative deviations.”¹ This chapter will examine the final four installments of the original “Testis” series.² They constitute a coherent unit that is dedicated to exposing the poisonous fruits of monophorism. For our purposes, the most important of these is the sixth “Testis” in which Blondel severely censured the methodology and conclusions of Pedro Descoqs’s series “À travers l’œuvre de M. Ch. Maurras.” Because the contents of the other three essays are sometimes...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Round Two: Focus on the Nature-Supernatural Relationship
    (pp. 145-173)

    Pedro Descoqs’s response to “Testis” soon appeared in the pages of the Annales.¹ Entitled “Monophorism and Action Française” (“Monophorisme et Action française”) (henceforth “MAF”), his essay was initially intended to serve as an appendix to a new edition of his series on Maurras and Action Française.² Blondel, in turn, composed a two-part rejoinder, the first part of which appeared in the same issue as Descoqs’s essay. Blondel argued that an alliance between Catholics and unbelieving positivists brought about a “mutilation” of the Christian spirit. It constituted a flagrant case of the “monophorist” mentality that he had diagnosed. Descoqs, on the...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Pedro Descoqs’s Second and Third Editions
    (pp. 174-207)

    Before the final “Testis” article appeared, Pedro Descoqs was already preparing a second edition of his series on Maurras: À travers l’œuvre de M. Maurras (henceforth ATOM [1911]).¹ This edition included Descoqs’s responses to the polemics provoked by his Études series.² One chapter responded to an Action Française member who had taken Descoqs to task for too closely linking morality and politics.³ Other chapters included “Monophorisme et Action française,” and new responses to the critical essays by Blondel and Laberthonnière that had accompanied the publication of “MAF.”⁴ However, Descoqs’s new volume did not take account of the final “Testis” essay....

  13. CHAPTER 7 Later Echoes
    (pp. 208-230)

    The 1913 publications of À travers l’œuvre de M. Ch. Maurras and Monophorisme et Action française, coupled with the demise of the Annales, seemed to guarantee Pedro Descoqs the last word in his dispute with Blondel and Laberthonnière. But in 1926, seemingly “out of the blue,” the Holy See forbade Catholic participation in Maurras’s movement.¹ The condemnation of Action Française during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (1922–1939) and its troubled “reception” prompted responses from both Pedro Descoqs and Maurice Blondel. In the 1930s, when passions had abated, Descoqs again returned to the key points at issue in the...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Assessing the Fundamental Issues
    (pp. 231-268)

    The first six chapters set out the multiple contexts and contents of the dispute between Maurice Blondel and Pedro Descoqs. Chapter 7 investigated later “echoes” of the original dispute. The exchange between Blondel and Descoqs was messy. It was marked by misunderstandings, accusations, and what the French term a “procès de tendances” (conflict of mentalities). At a certain point, each admitted that his adversary’s positions could be given an acceptable interpretation. Nevertheless, even after the condemnation of Action Française in 1926, Descoqs continued to insist that Blondel’s approach to the problem betrayed a dangerous confusion of the natural and supernatural...

  15. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 269-286)
  16. Index
    (pp. 287-297)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 298-298)