A New Primacy of Conscience? Conscientious Objection, French Catholicism and the State during the Algerian War

Rachel M. Johnston-White*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

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This article explores how the Roman Catholic Church in France re-evaluated its traditional condemnation of conscientious objection in the closing years of the Algerian War. In contrast to the French Protestant Churches after 1948, the Catholic Church continued to proclaim objection to be detrimental to the principles of state sovereignty and obedience to legitimate authority. Despite this, cases of Catholic conscientious objectors like Jean le Meur and Jean Pezet brought contentious Church debates into the public sphere, dramatized in the press and the courtroom. The article traces how the moral dilemmas of the Algerian War created a space for new theological ideas that challenged the hierarchical, corporatist structure of the French Catholic Church and opened the way for a new emphasis on individual conscience that came to fruition with Vatican II. By focusing on Catholic activism during the war itself, the article also challenges the idea that support for conscientious objection emerged spontaneously after the end of the Algerian War. More broadly, the article addresses the wider narrative of the emergence of human rights by illustrating how the Algerian War proved to be a turning point in the relationship between individuals and authority.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)112-138
Aantal pagina's27
TijdschriftJournal of contemporary history
Volume54
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
Vroegere onlinedatum8-nov-2017
DOI's
StatusPublished - jan-2019
Extern gepubliceerdJa

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