An Essay on Religious Democracy
English translation by W. H. Marshner and Joan Longua
Property of W. H. Marshner. Reproduction or distribution without his permission is prohibited.
This is a translation of a short but famous work by the great French monarchist writer, Charles Maurras, founder of the pro-monarchy movement L’Action Française (very active between 1895 and World War II). This book was written between 1905 and 1907 as a series of newspaper articles (really essays) dealing with the interesting figure of Mark Sangnier, son of a banker and prominent Catholic, but also the oratorically gifted leader of a pro-democracy youth movement called the Sillon. This movement had two misfortunes, one due to its historical situation, and the other due to the mental imprecision of M. Sangnier. As to the first, it was difficult to defend democracy in France when it had produced the loathsome, corrupt, and fiercely anti-clerical Third Republic, in which no Catholic voice was welcome. The other misfortune was M. Sangnier’s inability to keep his enthusiasm for democracy clear of utopian hopes. Maurras saw Sangnier’s movement as a significant threat to His own effort to solidify French Catholics in support of the monarchy. Hence, he challenged Sangnier to a debate in print, all the contributions to which are included in this book. In a postscript, M. Maurras celebrates the demise of Sangnier’s movement in consequence of a beautiful, condemnatory letter to the French hierarchy from Pius X (Notre charge apostolique, 1910).
For some years, I assigned this translation to my class “Theology of the Public Order,” in the belief that American students were unlikely otherwise to encounter an intelligent case for monarchic government.