Catholic Culture in Interwar France

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author:
Philip Nord Princeton University

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The interwar years have been characterized as a “watershed” in the history of French Catholicism,1 and it is not hard to see why. The Church had experienced the first decades of the Third Republic as a time of trial and persecution. World War I, however, gave believers reason to look forward to a brighter future. The republican establishment had welcomed the political representatives of Catholic opinion into the Union sacrée. The distress of soldiers and war widows had nourished a revival of popular faith.2 With the return of peace, the Catholic laity plunged into an associational activism of unprecedented proportions. The vaulting edifice of voluntary bodies they constructed reenergized the faith and at the same articulated a Catholic countervision of the proper constitution of la cité.

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