Antonio Gramsci

Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks

Past and Present [4] Religion in Schools

`This is why, according to the Gentile reform, in the new school curricula art and religion are assigned just to the elementary school and philosophy, by and large, to the secondary schools. In the philosophical intentions of the elementary curricula, the words "the teaching of religion is considered to be the foundation and crowning point of the whole of primary instruction" mean precisely that religion is a necessary but lower category that education must pass through since, according to Hegel's conception, religion is a mythological and lower form of philosophy, corresponding to the childlike mentality not as yet capable of raising itself to pure philosophy, within which religion must subsequently be resolved and absorbed. We may note straight away that, in actual fact, this idealist theory has not succeeded in polluting religious teaching in the elementary school by having it treated there as mythological, both because the teacher either does not understand or does not bother his head with such theories and because Catholic religious teaching intrinsically concerns history and dogma, and is externally watched over and directed by the Church in the curricula, texts, teachings. Moreover the words "foundation and crowning point" have been accepted by the Church in their obvious meaning and repeated in the Concordat between the Holy See and Italy, according to which (art. 36) religious teaching is extended to the secondary schools. This extension has come to challenge the aims of idealism, which was attempting to exclude religion from the secondary schools to leave the field free for the dominance of philosophy alone, destined to supersede and absorb within itself the religion learned in the elementary schools.' Civiltà Cattolica, 7 November 1931 (`The Good and the Bad in the New Pedagogy', author anonymous, but Fr Mario Barbera).

49 Catholicism and Secularism. Religion and Science, Etc.

Read Edmondo Cione's booklet Il dramma religioso dello spirito moderno e la Rinascenza [The Religious Drama of the Modern Spirit and the Renaissance], Naples 1929. He develops the following concept: `the Church, strong in its authority, but feeling the void hovering within its head, a head lacking in science and philosophy; Thought, strong in its power, but yearning in vain for popularity and the authority of tradition.' Why `in vain'? Yet the duality of Church and Thought is not exact, or at least in the imprecision of the language there has taken root a whole mistaken way of thinking and acting in particular. Thought can be opposed to the Religion of which the Church is the organisation militant. Our idealists, secularists, immanentists and so on, have made a pure abstraction of Thought, which the Church has taken easily in its stride by ensuring that it has state laws on its side and that it controls education. For `Thought' to be a force (and only as such can it build its own tradition), it must create an organisation, which cannot be the state -- since, however much it may proclaim it at the top of its voice, the state has in one way or another given up this ethical role -- and which therefore must spring from civil society. These people, who were opposed to the freemasons, will end up by recognising the necessity for the masonry. The `Reformation and Renaissance' problem mentioned on other occasions. The position of Croce (Cione is a Crocean) who does not know how (and is unable) to become a popular element, in other words a `new Renaissance' etc.


50 Encyclopaedic Notions [1]. Civil Society

One must distinguish civil society as understood by Hegel and in the sense in which it is often used in these notes (viz. in the sense of the political and cultural hegemony of a social group over the whole of society, as the ethical content of the state) from the sense given it by the Catholics, for whom civil society is, instead, political society or the state, as compared with the society of the family or the Church. Pius XI writes in his encyclical on education (Civiltà Cattolica of 1 February 1930): `Now there are three necessary societies, distinct from one another and yet harmoniously combined by God, into which man is born; two, namely the family and civil society, belong to the natural order; the third, the Church, to the supernatural order. In the first place comes the family, instituted directly by God for its particular purpose, the generation and formation of offspring; for this reason it has priority of nature and therefore of rights over civil society. Nevertheless, the family is an imperfect society, since it has not in itself all the means for its own complete development; whereas civil society is a perfect society, having in itself all the means for its peculiar end, which is the temporal well-being of the community; and so, in this respect, that is, in view of the common good, it has pre-eminence over the family, which finds its own suitable temporal perfection in civil society. The third society, into which man is born when through baptism he reaches the divine life of grace, is the Church; a perfect society, because it has in itself all the means required for its own end, which is the eternal salvation of mankind; hence it is supreme in its own domain.' 82

For Catholicism, what is called `civil society' in Hegelian language is not `necessary', i. e. it is purely historical or contingent. In the Catholic conception, the state is just the Church and is a universal and supernatural state. The medieval conception is fully adhered to in theory.


E Integralist Catholics, Jesuits and Modernists

51 The Rise of the Integralists

The `integralist Catholics' enjoyed great fortune under the papacy of Pius X. They represented a European tendency within Catholicism that, politically, was of the extreme right, but they were of course stronger in certain countries such as Italy, France and Belgium where, in one form or another, the left tendencies in the fields of politics and intellectual life made themselves more strongly felt within the sphere of organised Catholicism.

In Belgium, during the war, the Germans seized a large number of confidential and secret documents belonging to the integralists which were then published. There thus came to light abundant proof that the integralists had set up their own secret association for controlling, directing and `purging' the Catholic movement at all levels within its hierarchy; they had recourse to codes, clandestine correspondence, spies, trusties and so on. The head of the integralists was Mons. Umberto Benigni, and one part of the organisation was constituted by the Sodalitium Pianum of

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Pius V. 83 Mons. Benigni, who died in 1934, was a man of great practical and theoretical capacity whose activity was truly phenomenal; amongst other things he wrote an enormous work, La Storia sociale della Chiesa, [The Social History of the Church], of which four large format volumes, of over 600 pages each, have been published by Hoepli. As emerges from Civiltà Cattolica, Benigni never for once interrupted his conspirational activity within the Church, despite the difficulties the integralists got into because of the policy of Pius XI, a hesitant, faltering and timid policy but one which is however popular-democratic in orientation because of the need to create strong Catholic Action groups. The integralists supported the Action Française movement in France and were against the Sillon; 84 they are everywhere opposed to political and religious modernism.

In contrast to the Jesuits, they adopted an almost Jansenist stance, that is one of great moral and religious rigour, opposed to any form of laxity, opportunism or centrism. The Jesuits, of course, accuse the integralists of Jansenism (of Jansenistic hypocrisy) and, what is more, of playing into the hands of the (theologising) modernists:

1) through their fight against the Jesuits, and

2) because they have widened the concept of modernism and thus enlarged the target so much that they have offered the modernists the broadest scope for manoeuvre. It has in fact happened that in their common struggle against the Jesuits, integralists and modernists have found themselves objectively on the same terrain and have collaborated with each other (it seems that Buonaiuti has written for Benigni's review).

What now remains of the modernists and integralists? It is difficult to single out and evaluate their objective strength (especially that of the modernists) within the organisation of the Church; the integralists have maintained their forces almost intact, even after the campaign against Action Française. In any case, they are always there, working as a continuous `leaven', in so far as they represent the struggle against the Jesuits and their excessive power, a struggle carried on today by elements of both right and left amidst the apparent indifference of the mass of the clergy, with

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results that cannot be ignored as regards the mass of the faithful, who know nothing of these battles and their meaning, but exactly because of this find it impossible to attain a unified and homogeneous basic mentality.

These forces of the Church -- internal, antagonistic and clandestine or nearly so (for modernism, covert operation indispensable) -- find it convenient to have external `centres', either public or having direct effectiveness where the public is concerned, with their own periodicals or editions of books and pamphlets. Between the clandestine and the public centres, there exist secret links that become the channel for the expression of anger, vendettas, denunciations, base insinuations and gossip in order to fan the flames of the anti-Jesuit struggle. (The Jesuits, too, have an unofficial or even underground organisation, to which there must contribute the so-called `lay Jesuits', a curious institution which maybe has been copied from the Franciscan tertiaries and which, it would appear, represents numerically about a quarter of all the Jesuit forces. This institution of `lay Jesuits' deserves closer study). All this shows that the cohesive force of the Church is much less than is commonly thought, not only because of the fact that the growing indifference of the mass of the faithful for purely religious or ecclesiastical questions attaches a very relative value to superficial and apparent ideological homogeneity, but also because of the much more serious fact that the Church centre is impotent to clear the field completely of the organised forces engaged in conscious struggle within the Church itself. It is, above all, the anti-modernist struggle that has demoralised the young clergy, who do not hesitate to swear the anti-modernist oath while continuing to hold to modernist opinions. (Recall the milieux in which young ecclesiastics, Dominicans included, used to congregate in pre-war Turin, and their deviations that went as far as the favourable reception of the modernising tendencies of Islam and Buddhism and the conception of religion as a world-wide syncretism of all the higher religions -- God is like the sun, the religions being the rays, each ray leading back to the one sun, etc.)

The following indications have been taken from an article of Fr Rosa (`Reply to "A Baseless and Dishonest Polemic'", in the Civiltà Cattolica of 21 July 1928). Mons. Benigni continues (in 1928) to have a noteworthy organisation: a series of books under the title Vérités is published in Paris with authors signing themselves Récalde, Luc Verus, Simon (Luc Verus being the collective pseudonym of the `integralists'). Rosa quotes the booklet Les découvertes du Jésuite Rosa, successeur de Von Gerlach, Paris 1928, which he ascribes to Benigni at least as regards the material. The Jesuits are accused of being `friends of the Masons and Jews' (calling to mind Ludendorff's `doctrine' about the `Jewish-Masonic-Jesuit International'), are called `demagogues and revolutionaries' and so on. In Rome, Benigni uses the agency Urbs or Romana and signs his publications with the name of his nephew Mataloni. His Roman bulletin went under the name Veritas. (Is it still coming out or, if not when did it cease publication?) In 1928 or before, he published a pamphlet Di fronte alla calunnia [Faced with Slander], comprising just a few pages, with documents concerning the so-called Sodalitium Pianum; the pamphlet was then reproduced in part and defended by two Catholic periodicals, Fede e Ragione [Faith and Reason] of Florence and the Liguria del Popolo [The People's Liguria] of Genoa. He was editor of the periodical Miscellanea di storia ecclesiastica.

The pamphlet Una polemica senza onestà e senza legge [A Baseless and Dishonest Polemic] was written by Prof. E. Buonaiuti against Fr Rosa. Rosa, writing of Buonaiuti's book Le Modernisme catholique [Catholic Modernism] (a volume in the series edited by P. L. Couchaud and published by Rieder), notes that the author finally admits a series of facts that he had always denied during the modernist polemic (for example that Buonaiuti was the author of `the modernist campaign run by the Giornale d'Italia, something Buonaiuti does not actually say explicitly in his book, but which one may deduce to be very likely, given the tortuous nature of these writers). Benigni concerted the press campaign against the modernists at the time of the Encylical Pascendi. 85 In his Ricerche religiose [Religious Researches] (July 1928) Buonaiuti recounts a typical incident (cited by Fr Rosa together with certain reproachful comments etc.). In 1909, the modernist, Prof. Antonino De Stefano (now a defrocked priest and university history teacher), was to publish an `International Modernist Review' in Geneva. Buonaiuti sent him a letter. A few weeks later, he was called to the Holy Office. 86 The assessor at that time, the Dominican, Pasqualigo, took him to task word for word on the letter he had written to De Stefano. The letter had been `appropriated' in Geneva, an emissary from Rome having been `introduced' into De Stefano's house etc. (For Buonaiuti, of course, Benigni has been an instrument and accomplice of the Jesuits, but it would appear that in 1904 Buonaiuti was a collaborator on Benigni's Miscellany.)

On the theme Integralist Catholics-Jesuits-Modernists -- who represent the three `organic' tendencies of Catholicism, i. e. they are the forces fighting for hegemony within the Roman Church -- a collection should be made of all the useful material and a bibliography constructed. (The numbers of Civiltà Cattolica, Buonaiuti's Religious Researches, Benigni's Miscellany, the polemical pamphlets of the three currents and so on.)

From what emerges from Civiltà Cattolica it seems that Fede e Ragione is currently the most important review of the integralist Catholics. See who the main collaborators are and on what they differ from the Jesuits -- whether on points of faith, morals, politics etc. The `integralists' are strong in general, having the support of some religious orders (Dominicans, Franciscans) that are rivals of the Jesuits. It should be borne in mind that not even the Jesuits are totally homogeneous -- Cardinal Billot, an intransigent integralist until he gave up his cardinal's hat, was a Jesuit, and some of the outstanding modernists, such as Tyrrell, 87 were Jesuits.


52 Action Française and the Integralists

The article `Truth Balanced Between the Extremes of Error' in the Civiltà Cattolica of 3 November 1928 takes as its cue Nicolas Fontaine's publication Saint-Siège, `Action Française' et `Catholiques intégraux', [The Holy See, `Action Française' and `Integralist Catholics'] Paris 1928, of which this judgement is given in one of the notes to the article: `The author is dominated by political and liberal prejudices, above all when he sees politics in the condemnation of Action Française; but the facts and documents that he includes on the famous "Sodality" have never been denied.' Now, Fontaine has written nothing that is completely new (his documents on the `integralists' had been printed in Mouvement in April 1924). Why, then, have the Jesuits not made use of them before? This is an important question and can, I think, be resolved in these terms: the papal action against Action Française is the most visible and resolute aspect of a wider action aimed at eliminating a series of consequences of the policy followed by Pius X (in France, but indirectly in other countries, too). In other words, without mounting a frontal attack on them, Pius XI wants to curb the importance of the integralist Catholics, who are openly reactionary and are making it nearly impossible to create a strong Catholic Action and democratic-popular party in France, able to compete with the radicals. The struggle against modernism had unbalanced Catholicism, driving it too far to the right; hence the necessity to `centre' it afresh on the Jesuits, to re-endow it with a flexible political form, not constrained by doctrinally rigid positions, but allowing a wide-ranging freedom of manoeuvre etc.: Pius XI, without a shadow of doubt, is the Jesuits' Pope.

But the battle against the Catholic integralists on an organic front is much more difficult than the one against the modernists. A more advantageous terrain is offered by the struggle against Action Française: here the integralists are fought not so much as integralists but in so far as they are supporters of Maurras. In other words, an `extended formation' type of battle is being waged, 88 individuals being picked out as not obeying the Pope and as hindering the defence of the faith and morals against a confessed pagan and atheist, while the tendency in its entirety is officially ignored. Herein lies the supreme importance of Fontaine's book, which lays bare the organic link between Maurras and `integrism' 89 and lends forceful assistance to the action of the Pope and the Jesuits. (It should be noted that Fontaine returns on several occasions to impress upon the French `secularists' that it is the integralists and not the Jesuits who are `antidemocratic', and that in actual fact the Jesuits are aiding democracy etc. But who is Fontaine? Is he a specialist in studies on religious policy? Might he not be working under the inspiration of the Jesuits themselves?)

This Civiltà Cattolica article, certainly written by Fr Rosa, is very cautious in its use of documents reprinted by Fontaine, avoiding an analysis of those which not only discredit the integralists but show the entire Church in a comic light and reflect discredit on it. (The integralists had organised a veritable secret society, with coded systems in which the Pope is referred to as `Baroness Micheline' and other personalities by names no whit less extravagant, all of which is ample demonstration of Benigni's mentality vis-à-vis his `hierarchs'.)

On the question of the `the merits' of Pius XI's policy, it is not easy to draw conclusions, as is shown by the very course of this policy, an uncertain, timid and irresolute policy by reason of the immense difficulties it continually has to run up against. It has been said time and time again that the Catholic Church possesses inexhaustible virtues of adaptation and development. This is not altogether exact. A number of decisive points may be fixed in the life of the Church:

-- the first is that defined by the schism between East and West, territorial in nature, between two historical civilisations in conflict, having but few ideological and cultural elements, and which begins with the advent of Charlemagne's Empire, i. e. with a renewed attempt at establishing a political and cultural hegemony of the West over the East; the schism came in a period in which ecclesiastical forces were poorly organised and, automatically, got wider and wider by the very force of events that were impossible to control, as happens when two people who have had no contact for decades, draw further and further away from each other and end up by speaking two different languages; 90

-- the second is that of the Reformation, which came about in quite different conditions and which, though it resulted in a territorial separation, was most of all cultural in nature, giving rise to the Counter-Reformation and the decisions of the Council of Trent, which puts a very strong curb on the Catholic Church's possibility of adapting itself;

-- the third was that of the French Revolution (liberal-democratic Reform) which forced the Church to take up a yet more rigid stance and to assume the mummified shape of a formalistic and absolutist organism whose nominal head is the pope, with theoretically `autocratic' powers, which in reality are very few because the whole system hangs together only by virtue of the rigidity typical of a paralytic.

The entire society in which the Church moves and is able to evolve has this tendency to become rigid, leaving very few possibilities for the Church to adapt itself, possibilities that were already few because of the current nature of the Church itself.

The irruption of new forms of nationalism, which, after all, are the culmination of the historical process that began with Charlemagne, i. e. with the first renaissance, not only make this adaptation impossible, but also makes the very existence of the Church difficult, as we have seen in Hitlerite Germany. Moreover, the Pope cannot `excommunicate' Hitlerite Germany, but must sometimes rely on it, and this makes it impossible to follow any positive, vigorous religious policy of an undeviating variety. Faced with phenomena such as Hitlerism, even wide-ranging concession to modernism would now have no meaning, but serve only to increase confusion and disorder. Neither can it be said that things are much brighter in France, because it is just there that the theory of contraposing a `religion of the fatherland' to the `Roman' one was created and one can assume an increase of patriotic nationalism, not of Roman cosmopolitanism.

These indications are drawn from the Civiltà Cattolica of 3 November 1928. It is argued there that Maurras has found defenders amongst Catholics even in Italy, it being said that there exist `imitators or supporters, either open or undercover, but erring equally from the fullness of the faith and Catholic morality, either in theory or in practice, even when they raise a clamour or, yet again, labour under the deception that they want to defend them integrally and better than anyone else'. Action Française `launched a whole series of defamatory claims and incredible libellous material (sic) against the author of these lines (Fr Rosa), right up to those repeatedly suggested libellous claims about the murders and ruthless executions of fellow brethren'. (We shall have to see when and where these accusations were made against Fr Rosa. Amongst the Jesuits there was an integralist wing, favourable to Maurras, with front-rank men like Cardinal Billot, who was one of the main people behind the writing of the encyclical Pascendi and who gave up the office of cardinal, an extremely rare happening in the history of the Church, which demonstrates Billot's wilful obstinacy, and the resolute will of the Pope to overcome every obstacle in the struggle against Maurras.)

The Revue internationale des sociétés secrètes, edited by Abbé Boulin, is `integralist' and bitterly anti-Jesuit. Boulin is linked to Benigni-Mataloni and makes use of pseudonyms (Roger Duguet). Action Française and the integralists attach themselves desperately to Pius X and pretend to remain faithful to his teachings (which in the development of the Church offers a fine precedent, given that the death of any Pope could provide the ground for organising a sect that carries on one particular attitude of his -- the `integralists' want to restore Pius IX's Syllabus to a place of honour; in the proposal of Action Française to have an ecclesiastic give the course on the Syllabus in its schools, one sees a very clever provocation, but Pius XI not only does not want to restore actuality to the Syllabus, he is, rather, even seeking to tone down and make the encyclical Pascendi more acceptable).

The Civiltà Cattolica article is of the highest importance and must be looked at again for further elaboration of this argument. All the nuances in the `distinctions' drawn on the subject of freemasonry, anti-semitism, nationalism, democracy and so on will have to be considered. Even in regard to the modernists, a distinction is drawn between those who have been deceived etc., and Benigni's anti-modernism is taken to task and so on: `So much was to be feared and we did not fail to point out to the proper authorities right from the start that such methods would have played into the hands of the real modernists, thereby laying serious dangers up in store for the Church. This was seen subsequently, and may also still be seen, in the negative spirit of reaction not only of liberalism and the old type of modernism but in the new type too, as well as in integralism itself. This latter then wished to be seen as opposing any appearance or form of modernism, and, rather, took it upon itself to be, as is said, more papal than the Pope, while on the other hand, it is now, quite scandalously, either putting up a hypocritical resistance to him or fighting him openly, as is happening among the voluble supporters of Action Française in France and their silent accomplices in Italy.'

The integralists call the Jesuits `modernisers' and call their tendency `modernisantism'; they have divided Catholics into integralists and non-integralists, i. e. `papal' and `episcopal' Catholics. (It seems that Benedict XV's encyclical Ad Beatissimi 91 had, in noting this tendency to introduce these distinctions among Catholics, reproached it for damaging Christian unity and charity.)

The `Sapinière' (from S. P., the initials of `Sodalitium Pianum') was the secret society that hid behind the veil of the `Sodalitium Pianum', and organised the struggle against the modernising Jesuits `wholly contrary to the first idea and to the official programme put forward by the Supreme Pontiff, and thence approved by the Secretary to the Consistory, certainly not because it served as an outlet for personal passions, for the denunciation and defamation of the most upright and even eminent persons, of Bishops and of whole religious Orders, namely of ours, which had never up to then been prey to any such slanderous attacks not even at the time of its suppression. Last but not least, after the war and a long time after the dissolution of the Sodality -- decreed by the Sacred Congregation of the Council, certainly not as an honour to it but rather as a censure and formal ban on it -- we witnessed, all at the expense of a certain well-known and very rich Parisian financier, Simon, and his cohorts, the publication and lavish free distribution of the most ignominious and critically ignorant libels against the Society of Jesus, its Saints, its doctors and masters, its works and constitutions, albeit solemnly approved by the Church. This is the well known series of the so-called Récalde, which has now grown to over a dozen libels, some consisting of more than one volume, in all of which there is the all-too-recognisable -- and no less well-paid -- hand of accomplices in Rome. It is now being reinforced by the sister publication of defamatory and delirious scandal-sheets, under the general and self-contradictory title Vérités, imitations of the twin sheets of the Urbs or Romana agency, whose articles are later to be seen quoted almost word for word in other "periodical" news sheets.'

The integralists spread `the worst type of slander' against Benedict XV, as can be seen from the article that appeared on his death in the review Vieille France (by Urbain Gohier) and in the Ronde (February 1922) `this (periodical), too, anything but Catholic and moral, honoured though it is by the collaboration of Umberto Benigni, whose name is recorded in the fine company of these more or less dissipated youths'. `One cannot know how much evil has been wrought in the consciences, how much scandal has been conveyed therein, how great has been the alienation of the mind caused above all in France by this same spirit of defamation, continued under the present Pontificate, that has been propagated right within the very ranks of Catholics, of the religious, and of the clergy. For it is exactly here that political passion has induced people to believe more easily in slanders often having their origin in Rome, after Simon and his other rich confederates had, in a Gallican and journalistic (sic) spirit, bought the services of the authors of these calumnies and procured the free distribution of their libels, mainly those of the aforesaid anti-Jesuits, in the seminaries, presbyteries, ecclesiastical curiae, wherever there was some probability or likelihood that the scurrilous claim could take root; and even among the laity, for the most part young people, and in state-run lycées themselves with an unequalled prodigality'. The already suspect authors write anonymously or make use of pseudonyms. `... It is well-known, especially among journalists, just how little any appellation of honour is merited by a group of just such a nature, whose moving spirit is the most astute in hiding himself but also bears most guilt and is the most involved in the conspiracy' (is this a reference to Benigni or to some other big name in the Vatican?).

According to Fr Rosa, there was no initial `agreement' between Action Française and the `integralists', but such a thing did begin to take shape after 1926. This statement, however, was undoubtedly made with the express purpose of excluding any political motive (combating the ultra-reactionaries) from the struggle against Action Française and lessening the responsibility of Pius X. The last note of the article says `One party must not, however, be confused with the other, as some, e. g. Nicolas Fontaine in his previously quoted book Saint-Siège, `Action Française' et `Catholiques integraux', have done. This author, as we have remarked, is more than just liberal, but is also unfortunately (sic) extremely well-informed on the not-at-all edifying cases of the already referred-to secret society that goes under the name La Sapinière together with its French and Italian supporters; in this it is ridiculous to taunt him with liberalism -- it is instead the facts, to which we shall in due time return, to which the lie must be given'. Fontaine, in actual fact, gives quite an exhaustive proof of the connection between the integralists and Action Française, even if it is possible to say that we are dealing with two separate parties, one of which tends to make use of the other, and shows how that connection leads back to Pius X. That `unfortunately extremely well-informed' is strange, since Fontaine made use of material that is openly and publicly known, just as it is `strange' that Fr Rosa has not `returned' to the subject of La Sapinière in the pages of Civiltà Cattolica (at least not up to the death of Mons. Benigni, which was not recorded, and it is difficult to think of him speaking of it again unless there is some other strong personality who succeeds Benigni at the top level of the integralists). This silence is significant. The article concludes `But truth has nothing to fear. And for our part, we are quite resolved to defend it without fear or trepidation or hesitation, even against internal enemies, be they even ecclesiastics having power and means at their disposal, who have led the laity astray in order to involve them in their own designs and interests.'

Recall one of Benigni's trips to America (mentioned in Civiltà Cattolica; 1927, No. IV, p. 399) to distribute anti-Jesuit libels there; in Rome there must be some place containing tens of thousands of copies of these libels.

Q20§4 [ii].

53 An Action Française Journalist in Rome

Action Française used to have a journalist, Havard de la Montagne, working in Rome, editing a French-language weekly, Rome, directed especially at French Catholics, both the religious and the laity, who were either resident in or passing through Rome. It was the voice of the integralists and followers of Maurras, their focal point as well as being the centre of Action Française's news service at the Vatican, not only for religious questions, but above all for French and international political ones of a confidential nature. One must not forget that the Vatican has an information service that sometimes and for some questions is more exact, wider-reaching and more abundant than that of any other government. Being able to use this supply of information was not the least among the reasons for certain of Action Française's journalistic successes, together with lots of its personal and scandal-mongering campaigns. It would appear that after the break in 1926, Rome went into decline and then ceased publication.

Q20§4 [iii].

54 Action Française's Long Crisis

Look at the article `Action Française's Long Drawn-Out Crisis' in the number of Civiltà Cattolica of 7 September 1929. The reviewer praises the book La trop longue crise de l'Action Française [The Over-Long Crisis of Action Française] by Mons. Sagot du Vauroux, Bishop of Agen (Paris 1929), a work which `will prove most useful even to foreigners who are unable to understand the origins, and still less the persistence, combined with such great obstinacy, of [Action Française's] Catholic members, which blinds them right up to the point of making them live and die without the sacraments rather than give up the hateful excesses of their party and its unbelieving leadership'. Civiltà Cattolica attempts to justify itself for no longer engaging very often in polemics with Action Française, and states among other things `Beyond this, only an echo of the prolonged crisis reaches Italy, in other words only the distant (!?) association and analogy that it might (!) have with the general paganising tendencies of the modern age.' (This Malthusian polemic constitutes in point of fact the main weakness of the Jesuit position against Action Française and is the main cause of the fanatical fury of Maurras and his followers, who, not without reason, are convinced that the Vatican is making a `whipping boy' of them, that they are playing the role of the boy who once used to accompany the heir to the throne in England and receive the beatings on behalf of his royal master. From this point to that of persuading Maurras's followers that the assault on them is purely a political one, since it is Catholic or universal only in words, is only a short step. The Pope, and Civiltà Cattolica likewise, have, as it happens, steered well clear of identifying and `punishing' with these same sanctions those individual persons or groups which, in other countries, have the same tendencies as Maurras and do not hide them.)

Other indications of `integralist Catholics': the Bloc antirévolutionnaire led by Félix Lacointe, `worthy friend of the Boulin we have quoted and his associates' (Boulin edits the Revue Internationale des Sociétés Secrètes). It seems that Lacointe has written that Cardinal Rampolla was a freemason or something of the kind. (Rampolla was reproached for the policy of ralliement followed by Leo XIII. Recall on the subject of Rampolla that the veto put on his election to the papacy came from Austria, but at the request of Zanardelli. 92 On Rampolla and his position towards the Italian state, new elements are offered by Salata in the first (and only) volume of his Documenti diplomatici sulla questione romana. [Diplomatic Documents Relating to the Roman Question]).

One ideological element that is very significant as regards the work that the Jesuits are carrying on in France to provide the Catholic-democratic movement with a wide popular base is this historical-political judgement: Who is responsible for the `apostasy' of the French people? Just the democratic-revolutionary intellectuals whose reference point was Rousseau? No. The ones who bear most responsibility are the aristocrats and the big bourgeoisie who flirted with Voltaire: `... the traditional demands (of the monarchists) for a return to the old ways are as respectable as they are impracticable under present-day conditions. And that they are impracticable is most of all the fault of a great part of France's aristocracy and bourgeoisie, since the corruption and the apostasy of the mass of the people originated in the corruption and apostasy of this ruling class, rife up to the eighteenth century, thus confirming that even then regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis [the king sets the example for how the whole world is ordered]. Voltaire was the idol of that part of an aristocracy that was both corrupt and a corrupter of its people and that -- through quite scandalous acts of seduction -- dug the grave for the people's faith and probity with its own hands. And even though afterwards, with the rise of Rousseau and his subversive democracy in opposition to the Voltairean aristocracy, the two apostate currents, which appeared to start off from contrary errors, were in theory opposed to each other, just like two baleful chorus leaders they then came together in one same practice and ruinous conclusion -- that is to say in swelling the revolutionary torrent etc., etc.'

So too today, Maurras & Co. are the adversaries of Rousseauan democracy and the Sillon's `democratic exaggerations' (`exaggerations', one should take good note, just `exaggerations'), but the disciples and admirers of Voltaire. (Jacques Bainville edited a de luxe version of Voltaire's writings, and the Jesuits have not forgotten this).

On this historical-critical nexus regarding the origins of popular `apostasy' in France, Civiltà Cattolica quotes an article from La Croix, 15-16 August 1929, entitled `The Grievous Apostasy of the Popular Masses in France' which refers to the book Pour faire l'avenir [Constructing the Future], by P. Croizier of Action populaire, published by Spes editions of Paris in 1929.

Amongst the followers of Maurras & Co., as well as the conservatives and monarchists, Civiltà Cattolica, following in the path of the Bishop of Agen, detects four other groups: 1) the snobs (attracted by, especially, Maurras's literary gifts; 2) the admirers of violence and the strong hand `with the exaggerations of authority, pushed towards despotism, under the guise of resistance to the spirit of insubordination or social subversion of the contemporary era'; 3) the `false mystics', those `gullible enough to believe the prophecies of extra-ordinary restorations, wonderful conversions or providential missions' ascribed to none other than Maurras & Co.; this group, from the time of Pius X, `undaunted', excuses Maurras's unbelief and attributes it to `the deficiency of grace', `almost as if sufficient grace for conversion was not given to all, nor were those who resisted to blame for falling into or persisting in sin'; (it would be this group, therefore, that is semi-heretical since, in order to justify Maurras, it trots out Jansenist or Calvinist positions. On this subject, an explanation is necessary for Maurras's obstinacy in not wishing to be `converted', this being a fact that cannot be due solely to `ethical and intellectual integrity and loyalty', and which, exactly on this score, is the cause of the Jesuits' trepidation. These latter understand that if the Maurras group captured state power, the actual situation of French Catholicism would become more difficult than it is at the moment. The Vatican's attitude towards Hitlerism, despite what Rosenberg had written in his Myth before the seizure of power, is, on this account, a source of amazement; it is true that Rosenberg is not of the same intellectual stature as Maurras, but the whole of Hitler's movement is of a low and vulgar intellectual calibre, and what afterwards happened to Catholicism and Christianity was predictable.); 4) the fourth group (the most dangerous for Civiltà Cattolica) would be that composed of the `integralists'. (Civiltà Cattolica notes that the Bishop of Agen also calls them `integrists', `but it is well known that they are not to be confused with the political party called "integrist" 93 in Spain'.) These `integralists' Civiltà writes, `even in Italy were quite in favour of the positivists and unbelievers of Action Française, simply because of their violence against liberalism and other forms of modern error, not realising that they went too far to opposite extremes, extremes of an equally erroneous and pernicious nature etc.' `Thus, even in Italy, we have seen some of their publications just gloss over, in passing, the condemnation of Action Française, instead of publishing the documents relating to it and illustrating the sense of and reason for this condemnation, while on the other hand they halt at length over the republication of and comment on the Sillon's condemnation; almost as though these two movements, opposed to each other and equally opposed to Catholic doctrine, could not be and were not equally blameworthy. This affair is worthy of note since, while in almost every issue of this type of publication, one finds some accusation or fiery outburst against Catholic authors, it appears that either the vigour or the space is lacking for a frank and forceful treatment of the condemnation against the supporters of Action Française. There is, rather, a frequent repetition of aspersions, such as that of a claimed leaning to the left, in other words towards liberalism, popularism, false democracy, against whoever does not follow the procedure they adopt.'

(Henri Massis and the `defenders of the West' group should also be included in the current of the `integral Catholics'; remember Fr Rosa's gibes against Massis in his reply to Ugo Ojetti's open letter.)

Q20§4 [v].

55 Maurras and Paganism

The Rivista d'Italia of 15 January 1927 takes up an article by J. Vialatoux, published in the Chronique Sociale de France some weeks before. Vialatoux rejects the thesis upheld by Jacques Maritain in Une opinion sur Charles Maurras et le devoir des catholiques [Charles Maurras and the Duty of Catholics] (Paris 1926) according to which there is only an incidental relationship between Maurras's pagan philosophy and ethics and his politics, so that if one took his political doctrine, leaving aside the philosophy, one could run into a number of dangers, as in any movement composed of human beings, but the doctrine itself contains nothing deserving of condemnation. For Vialatoux, rightly, the political doctrine springs from (or at least is indivisibly bound up with -- G.) the pagan conception of the world. (As regards this paganism, one has to distinguish and clarify the differences between the literary aspect, brimming with references and pagan metaphors, and the essential core which is, after all, naturalistic positivism, taken over from Comte and indirectly from the Saint-Simonians, all of which is tied up with paganism only through its jargon and ecclesiastical nomenclature -- G.) The state is humanity's ultimate goal: it brings the human order into being by means of the forces of nature alone, (i. e. `human' forces as opposed to `super-natural' ones).

Maurras can be defined by his hatreds even more than by his loves. Primitive Christianity -- the conception of the world contained in the Gospels, put forward by the first apologists etc., Christianity, in short, up the Edict of Milan, whose fundamental belief was that the coming of Christ had heralded the end of the world and that it therefore caused the Roman political order to dissolve into a moral anarchy that corroded away every civil and state value -- is a Judaic conception for Maurras and an object of his hatred.

It is in this sense that he wants to de-Christianise modern society. For Maurras, the Catholic Church has been and always will be the instrument of this de-Christianisation. He distinguishes between Christianity and Catholicism, exalting this latter as the reaction of Roman order against Judaic anarchy. The Catholic religion, with its superstitious devotions, its feast days, its pomp, its ceremonials, its liturgy, its images, its formulas, its sacramental rites, its majestic hierarchy, acts as a salutary enchantment, taming Christian anarchy and immunising against the Judaic poison of authentic Christianity.

According to Vialatoux, Action Française's nationalism is nothing but an episode of the religious history of our time. (In this sense every political movement not controlled by the Vatican is an episode of religious history, in other words all history is religious history. At any rate, it must be added that Maurras's hatred of everything that smacks of Protestantism and is Anglo-Germanic in origin -- Romanticism, the French Revolution, capitalism etc. -- is just an aspect of that hatred of primitive Christianity. One would have to look in Auguste Comte for the origins of this general attitude towards Catholicism, which is not independent of the bookish rebirth of Thomism 94 and Aristotelianism.)

Q13§37 (excerpt).

56 Maurras and `Organic Centralism'

So-called `organic centralism' is based on the principle that a political group is chosen by `co-option' around an `infallible repository of the truth', someone who has been `enlightened by reason', who has discovered the infallible natural laws of historical evolution, infallible in the long term even if immediate events `seem' to give the lie to them. The application of the laws of mechanics and mathematics to social facts, which should have only a metaphorical value, becomes the sole and phantasmagoric intellectual motor (without any purchase on reality). The nexus between organic centralism and Maurras's doctrines is obvious.


57 The Turmel Case


Refer to the article `The Catastrophe of the Turmel Case and the Methods of Critical Modernism' in the Civiltà Cattolica of 6 December 1930. The piece is very important and the Turmel case assumes the greatest interest in the question. Turmel's activity is like something out of a novel. While remaining a priest, he continued for over twenty years, using the most varied pseudonyms, to write articles and books of such a heterodox nature that they ended up by being openly atheistic. In 1930 the Jesuits managed to unmask him and have him declared excommunicatus vitandus; 96 the decree of the Holy Office contains the list of his publications and pseudonyms.

It so happens that after the modernist crisis, secret formations came to be created within the organisation of the Church. As well as that of the Jesuits (who moreover, are not homogeneous and always in agreement, but have a modernist wing -- Tyrrell was a Jesuit -- and an integralist one -- Cardinal Billot was an integralist), there existed and probably still do exist secret integralist and modernist groupings. The identification of Turmel with his pseudonyms has something of the fanciful, too. The Jesuit centre had undoubtedly spread a wide net around him that gradually closed in and finally managed to trap him. It seems that Turmel had protectors within the Roman Congregations, which shows that not all the modernists have been identified, despite the oath taken, and that they are still working in secret. Turmel wrote articles and books under fifteen pseudonyms: Louis Coulange, Henri Delafosse, Armand Dulac, Antoine Dupin, Hippolyte Gallerand, Guillaume Herzog, André Lagard, Robert Lawson, Denys Lenain, Paul Letourneur, Goulven Lézurec, Alphonse Michel, Edmond Perrin, Alexis Vanbeck, Siouville. What happened was that Turmel refuted or praised under one pseudonym articles and books published under another and so on. He was a regular collaborator both for the review Revue d'histoire des religions and for the series Christianisme, edited by Couchoud and published by Rieder.

Account must also be taken of another article published in the Civiltà Cattolica of 20 December 1930: `The Spirit of "Action Française" as Regards "Intelligence" and "Mystique'", which discusses Jean Héritier's volume Intelligence et Mystique (Paris 1930) published as part of the series Les Cahiers d'Occident which sets itself the task of disseminating the principles of the defence of the West, in the spirit of Henri Massis's well-known book. 97 Massis and his theories are suspect in the eyes of the Jesuits, and, what is more, the contact between Massis and Maurras is public knowledge. The movement led by Massis is to be numbered among those of `integralist Catholicism' or Catholic reaction. (The Action Française movement is also to be counted among those supported by the integralists.)

The birth of integralism in France is to be connected with the Ralliement movement championed by Leo XIII; the integralists are those who disobeyed Leo XIII and sabotaged the initiative. Pius X's struggle against Combisme 98 seemed to suggest they were right, and he is their pope, as he is the pope of Maurras. Printed as an appendix to Héritier's volume are articles of other authors who deal with the Ralliement and who, even on questions of religious history, support Maurras's thesis on the dissolutionary anarchism of Judaic Christianity and the Romanisation of Catholicism.


58 The Case of Abbé Turmel of Rennes

In his collection of essays L'Enciclica Pascendi e il modernismo [The Encyclical Pascendi and Modernism], a book published in 1908 or 1909, Fr Rosa devotes a number of `exceptionally savoury' pages to the `extraordinary' case of Abbé Turmel; the savour has nothing to do with the elegance and literary merits of the author, a pedestrian scribbler, whose style is even more featureless, flat and dreary than his opponent Buonaiuti, who could himself teach something of the art. Turmel was a modernist who wrote books of a modernist and even totally atheistic nature under various pseudonyms, and then went on to refute them under his own name. Turmel carried on with this game of pseudonyms from 1908 up to 1929, when, by chance, the ecclesiastical authorities stumbled upon quite clear proof of this duplicity. The proofs that led to the abbot being relieved of his duties were not, however, produced straight away, Prof. L. Saltet of the Catholic Institute of Toulouse being, instead, entrusted with the task of providing ample philological-critical-literary proof (see the Bulletin de Littérature Ecclésiastique of Toulouse) of Turmel's authorship of a whole series of writings published under as many as fourteen pseudonyms. Turmel was then expelled from the Church. (On this theme, see the other note, further on.) 99 The question of the anonymity and the pseudonyms to which the modernists have had recourse in order to escape immediate measures of repression is dealt with by Buonaiuti in his 1927 book on Modernismo Cattolico [Catholic Modernism] with a certain degree of sophistry and embarrassed reticence. This `politicking' tactic undoubtedly harmed Buonaiuti in particular, who was represented by the `idealists' of La Voce as an almost contemptible character. Despite everything, the figure of Buonaiuti is left with a certain aura of moral grandeur and uprightness of character 100 when one thinks that, for more than thirty years, he has been alone in maintaining his position against the Curia and the Jesuits and has been abandoned by his supporters and friends, who either have returned to the fold or have quite decisively opted for the secular camp. Nor is his activity without consequence for the Catholic Church when one bears in mind that his books have had a relatively wide distribution and that the Church has made him repeated offers of compromise.)


59 Luigi Salvatorelli and Fr Turmel

In the October-December 1932 number of Cultura Luigi Salvatorelli writes about Joseph Turmel in his review of the two books Joseph Turmel, prêtre historien des dogmes [Joseph Turmel, Historian Priest of Dogmas], by Félix Sartiaux, Paris 1931, and Histoire des dogmes, I, Le péché originel. La rédemption [History of Dogmas, I, Original Sin. Redemption.] by J. Turmel Paris 1931. Sartiaux's book is indispensable for any assessment of the Turmel case. 101 According to Salvatorelli, Turmel never was a modernist in so far as he never `envisaged the idea of a transformation of the Church and of dogma'. And here is posed the problem, for the purpose of the exact compilation of the notes collected under this heading, of what one should understand by modernist. It is evident that there is no fixed model, lending itself to easy identification, of what comprises `modernist' and `modernism', just as no such model exists for any `-ist' or `-ism'. What we have been dealing with is a complex and multi-faceted movement that can stand more than one different reading:


1) the account the modernists gave of themselves;

2) that given of them by their adversaries.

The two of these certainly did not coincide.

It may be said that there existed different manifestations of modernism:

1) the politico-social one, which tended to bring the Church back towards the popular classes, thus being favourable to reformist socialism and to democracy, in other words generically to the liberal currents (this manifestation is perhaps the one that has contributed most to spurring on the struggle of the integralist Catholics, who are bound closely to the most reactionary classes, and in particular to the landed aristocracy and the latifundists in general, as is shown by the French example of Action Française and the Italian one of the so-called `Catholic Centre'); 102

2) the `scientific-religious' one, i. e. one that, as compared with ecclesiastical tradition, favours a new attitude towards `dogma' and `historical criticism' and thus represents a tendency towards an intellectual reform of the Church. The struggle between modernists and integralist Catholics was less bitter on this terrain and, indeed, according to the Jesuits, the two forces were often in collusion and alliance, viz. integralist Catholic reviews published articles by modernists (according to Civiltà Cattolica, Mons. Benigni's review often published Buonaiuti's anti-Jesuit articles). All this took place behind the scenes, of course, because on stage the struggle had to be presented as especially, rather as solely, a religious one, which does not prevent integralist Catholic support for a self-confessed atheist like Maurras, and does not mean that for Maurras the question could not but be solely political and social.

For the Jesuits, Turmel was <and is> a modernist in the `scientific' sense (although as regards his conscience he is in fact an atheist, i. e. completely outside the religious field, yet he carries on being a `priest' for secondary motives, which seems to be a fairly common case among the clergy as the book by Sartiaux and Loisy's Mémoires 103 indicate).

What is important to note here is that all three -- modernism, Jesuitism and integralism -- have meanings that go beyond the narrowly religious definitions: they are `parties' inside the `international absolute empire' constituted by the Church of Rome and they cannot avoid posing in religious form problems that are often of a purely worldly nature, problems of `rule' [`dominio'].