The Challenge to Laïcité: Church, State and Schools in Vichy France, 1940-1944

by Nicholas Atkin
The Challenge to Laïcité: Church, State and Schools in Vichy France, 1940-1944
Nicholas Atkin
The Historical Journal
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The Historical Journal, 3 5, I ( rggz), pp. I 5~69 Printed in Great Britain
VICHY FRANCE, 1940-1944

University of Reading

ABSTRACT. This article examines the role which education played in churchlstate relations during the Occupation. It begins with an evaluation of catholic reactions to the defeat and explains why so many church leaders were quick to blarne military collapse on the lai'citi of the republican educational system. It then investigates the policies which the church wanted to see pursued in regard to schools and assesses how these were received by the Vichy government. Analysis of these issues reveals that Vichy was not as pro-clerical as is sometimes believed. Although initially sympathetic to church requests, by 1942 the regime had become reluctant to introduce any measure that rnight provoke religious division. At the same time, the article illustrates that French catholicism was not a monolithic bloc. Arguments over education served only to intensify divisions already present within the church and soon led to catholic disenchantment with the Vichy regime.

In the past decade a considerable amount of historical research has been devoted to the educational and youth policies of the Vichy regime.' This has shown how Vichy attempted to mobilize the young in support of the national revolution, only for the whole experiment to end in failure. As has been remarked, 'It is now quite clear that Vichy's reforms of the educational system and its support for youth organisations were not only an attempt to overturn an allegedly republican, bookish and secular system that was held responsible for the defeat of 1940, but also a deliberate attempt to foster political integration in the new state." Ultimately, Vichy's policies led to the 'cynical sacrifice of the interests of young people in the face of German demands for compulsory labour in I 943-4'.qY 1943, the idealism of I 940 had been swept away by the harsh realities of the oc~upation.~

In the remaining months of the regime, Vichy accomplished little in the way of constructive reform. We know far less, however, about how the French catholic church viewed the question of education under Vichy. It, too, had a strong interest in the

In particular, see R. Austin, 'The chantiers de la jeunesse in Languedoc, 194-rgqq', French Historical Studies, XIII,I ( 1983),I 06-26 ; and W. D. Halls The youth of Vichy France (Oxford, 198 I).

R. Austin, 'Political surveillance and ideological control in Vichy France: a study of teachers in the Midi, 194-1944', in R. Kedward and R. Austin (eds.), Vichy France and the resistance. Culture and ideolou (London, 1985), p. 13. Ibid.

See Halls, The youth of Vichy France, p. 61.

'5' NICHOLAS ATKIN young. On the eve of the occupation, it educated roughly one fifth of all children in elementary schools and over one third of all pupils in secondary schools. However, the church believed that if France was to remain a catholic country, then it was imperative that all children should be brought up in line with the teachings of christianity. Accordingly, it was quick to rally round the pro-clerical government of ,Marshal PCtain. At long last, there appeared to be a chance of overturning the institutionalized secularism of the state educational system. Yet how did the church set about this task and what future did it envisage for its own schools? To a large extent, it is because of the sensitivity of these questions that they remain unanswered. The role of the church during the occupation continues to generate considerable controversy. In the years immediately following the liberation, most histories of the church were highly polarized. On the one hand, catholic writers sought to apologize for the ambivalent attitude that the church had adopted towards PCtain.' On the other, anticlericals accused it of collaborating with the regime.6 A more measured account came in 1966 with the publication of Jacques Duquesne's Les Catholiques frangais sous l'occupation.' This demonstrated that the church was not a monolithic bloc but that it comprised several elements each of which responded differently to the circumstances of the war. Work conducted since then has reinforced this interpretation. In particular, one may cite the conferences held during the late 1970s under the direction of Xavier de Montclos.' Nonetheless, little of this research has examined in detail the position which the church adopted a propos education. The aim of the present study is to investigate the role which the so-called schools question played in churchlstate relations under Vichy. It begins with an analysis of catholic reactions to the defeat and explains how the church was quick to blame the dCb2cle on the laiciti of the republican educational system. It then examines the policies which catholics wanted to see pursued in regard to schools and assesses how these were received by the Vichy government. Although initially sympathetic, the regime's attitude towards the church had cooled considerably by 1942. Thus the study reveals that Vichy was not as pro-clerical as is sometimes believed. Like republican governments of the inter-war years, it was reluctant to introduce any measure which might provoke religious divisions. At the same time, the study reinforces the view that French catholicism was not a monolithic bloc. The debates over See A. Deroo, L'Episcopat franqais dans la mile'e de son temps, rg3~1g54 (Paris, 1955) and Mgr Guerry, L'Eglise en France sous l'occupation (Paris, 1947). "ee G. Cogniot, 'Les subventions a I'enseignement confessionnel', in La Pensie, new series, 111 (1945);J. Cottereau, 'L'Eglise, a-t-elle collaborP?', in Problimes Actuels, LXV (1946); and J. Cottereau, L'Eglise et Pitain (Paris, 194.7). 'J. Duquesne, Les catholiques frangais sous l'occupation (Paris, 1966). Eglises et chre'tiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La re'gion Rhine-Alpes. Actes du colloque tenu a Grenoble du 7 nu g octobre rg76publie's sous la direction de Xavier de Montclos (Lyon, 1978) ; ' Eglises et chrttiens pendant la seconde guerre mondiale dans le Nord-Pas-de-Calais', in Revue du flord, nos. CCXXXVII-CCXXVIII ( 1978);and Eglises et chritiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France. Actes du colloque national tenu a Lyon du 27 augo janvier rg78publiei sous la direction de Xavier de Montclos (Lyon, 1982).

education served only to intensify the divisions already present within the church. Finally, analysis of these arguments shows that catholics began to have their suspicions about Vichy far earlier than is sometimes recognized.

In 1940, the church was quick to blame defeat on the official laicite' of the old republic. In a pastoral letter of September 1940, Mgr Villerabel, archbishop of Aix, likened this to a cancer which had disfigured France and led her to ruin.g Mgr Caillot, bishop of Grenoble, declared that defeat was due to l'oubli de Dieu, and added, 'Et ce n'est pas assez dire oubli de Dieu, abandon de la religion de la part des masses. .. mais de la part de ceux qui gouvernaient.'1° This was the same complaint of Mgr Couderc, bishop of Viviers. Among the many mistakes of the old republic, he remarked, 'La plus Cnorme -parce qu'elle fut la source de beaucoup d'autres -fut sans aucun doute, de la part de l'Etat, l'ignorance officielle de la religion.''' Such ignorance, he concluded, had destroyed the traditional French values of God, work and country, ideals that would have saved France on the battlefield. Defeat was divine retribution for their abandonment.

Several aspects of laikite' came under fire in 1940. Mgr Rastouil, bishop of Limoges, condemned republican policies on divorce which, he alleged, had destroyed the stability and fecundity of the French family.12 Other members of the church hierarchy, such as ,Mgr Saliege, archbishop of Toulouse, denounced the atheism of republican politicians themselves.13 Yet most scorn was poured on the secular laws of education of the 1880s and early 1900s. In 194.0, catholics recalled with bitterness the laicization of the curriculum of the

. .

e'cole publique and the exclusion of the religious orders from teaching. As La Revue Religieuse de Rodez, the weekly bulletin for the diocese, commented, 'Depuis 1880, une guerre religieuse impitoyable est dCchainCe chez nous. TantBt sournoisement, tantbt ouvertement et m&me violemment elle s'attaque a l'oeuvre du Christ.'14 This, in turn, led some catholics to ask how France could have hoped to win the campaign in 1940 when God no longer played a part in the education of so many young people. This question was posed most forcibly by Mgr Durieux, archbishop of ChambCry. In a speech of July 1940, he announced that God would only return to assist France if the laicism of the past was overturned.15

Mgr Villerabel quoted in La S[emaine] R[eligieuse] de I'Archdiocise 8Aix, 15 Sept. 1940, no. 37,

P. 37. lo Mgr Caillot quoted in J. Godel, 'Monseigneur Caillot, ev&que de Grenoble (1917-1957) et le regime de Vichy (194+1944) ', in Eglises et chrHiens duns la Ile guerre mondiale. La re'gion Rho"ne Alpes, p. 78. l1 Mgr Couderc quoted in SR de Viuiers, 28 Feb. 1941, no. 9, p. 78. l2 Mgr Rastouil quoted in SR de Limoges, 30 Aug. 1940, no. 35, p. 387, l3 Mgr Salikge quoted in La Croix, 13 July 1940. l4 La Revue Religieuse de Rodez, 6 Sept. 1940, no. 36, p. 348.

l5 Mgr Durieux quoted in R. Btdarida, Les armes de l'esprit. Te'moignage chre'tien 1941-1944(Paris, 19771, P. '5.

In the face of this alleged persecution, the church had nothing but praise for the achievements and resilience of its own educational system. In difficult circumstances, catholic schools had done their utmost to ensure that the young received a christian upbringing. They could not, therefore, be held responsible for the defeat. In September 1940, Canon Aimond, the editor of the catholic review L'Enseignement chritien, proudly declared that in spite of the mutilations inflicted on enseignement libre by the secular laws, church schools had been of a great benefit to the national community.16 Aimond concluded, 'Enfin, disons- le sans vain orgueil, l'enseignement libre a bien mCritC de la "patrie ".'

In 1940, the contempt which the church felt towards the laiciti of the republic was matched only by the hope placed in the new regime. The actual policies and religious complexion of the Vichy government will be discussed later, but there can be little doubt about the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by catholics. PCtain himself was seized upon as a saviour who would deliver France from the past sixty years of republican lai'citi. A flood of episcopal letters rejoiced in the appointment of the marshal as head of the French state. None of the hierarchy doubted the legitimacy of the new regime. In part, this was only to be expected. As has been pointed out, it was the usual custom of the church to recognize a de facto government.17 Accordingly, Vichy was accredited with a papal nuncio, Valerio Valeri, and had its own ambassador, LCon BCrard, at the Vatican. Yet some members of the hierarchy went even further in their allegiance to the new regime. At least twelve bishops agreed with Mgr Chollet, archbishop of Cambrai, when he stated that PCtain was the 'autorite 1Cgitime'.18 Only in 1941 did church leaders attempt to clarify their position when they acknowledged Vichy as 'le pouvoir Ctabli'. Nonetheless, a large degree of ambiguity would always surround the hierarchy's declarations of support for the regime.

In the meantime, the more immediate concern of catholics was to indicate to Vichy the kind of policies they would like to see pursued in regard to education. Because of the hierarchical nature of the church, this task fell to the cardinals and the archbishops. Altogether France had five cardinals in 1940. However, one of these, Cardinal Verdier of Paris, died shortly before the defeat. With his death the church lost an experienced negotiator and one of its leading experts in educational affairs. Earlier in 1934, he had published La Question scolaire, a comprehensive study of the schools problem and a damning indictment of l~i'citi'.~~ 1940, Verdier had submitted a

In January memorandum to the Quai d'Orsay. This called upon the government to lift the ban on religious orders, to reinstate the catechism within the lessons of the hole publique, and to grant subsidies to catholic schools.20 Although Verdier was realistic enough to acknowledge that these proposals would make little

l6 Canon Aimond quoted in La Croix, 18 Sept. 1940.

l7 B. Halls, 'Catholicism under Vichy', in Kedward and Austin (eds.), Vichy France and the resistance, p. 134. l8 Ibid. l9 Cardinal Verdier, La question scolaire (Paris, 1934).

20 This memorandum is cited in J. P. Cointet, 'L'Eglise catholique et le gouvernement de Vichy', in Eglises et chrdiens dans la Ile guerre mondiale. La France, p. 437.

headway, his memorandum would form an important basis for clerical demands under Vichy.

Verdier's replacement as archbishop of Paris was Cardinal Suhard, formerly archbishop of Reims. Having spent most of his life in the catholic heartlands of western France, Suhard had little practical understanding of the national political scene." Instead, his interests were primarily pastoral. He saw his task as preventing the future dechristianization of France and believed that the key to that success lay in the Christian education of the young. Cardinal Gerlier of Lyon and primate of the Gauls shared similar concerns. A lawyer by training, he had been president of the Association Catholique de la Jeunesse Fran~aise and had close ties with Action Catholique. He was also anti-Na~i.~~ But this did not stop him from becoming one of the most ardent supporters of PCtain. On I g November 1940, he made his famous declaration : ' PCtain, c'est la France et la France aujourd'hui, c'est Pktai~~."~

Yet in return for this devotion, Gerlier expected to see a resolution to the schools question. This he made clear in a speech of July I 940 :

Pour le reltvement du pays, aucun probleme n'est plus essentiel que celui de la formation intellectuelle et morale de la jeunese. I1 faut rCsoudre enfin dans la claritC, dans la justice, la question colai ire.'^

Vichy's anti-semitic policies quickly dampened Gerlier's enthusiasm for the regime, yet he continued to press for concessions to catholic schools.

More prudent, but no less loyal in his support for PCtain, was Cardinal LiCnart, bishop of Lille. A man of humble origins, he had come to prominence in 1928 when he supported catholic trade unions in a bitter dispute with textile producers in the N~rd.'~

This brought him to the attention of many, including the Vatican, which made him a cardinal that year. Thereafter, he took a keen interest in education. It was under his patronage that a group of catholic schoolteachers gathered at Lille to discuss ways to make catholic secondary schools more accessible to working-class familiesz6 But LiCnart doubted they would succeed. Like his colleagues he was a fierce opponent of laicite'. In his pastoral letter of Easter 1939, he judged 'I'enseignement officiel Ctabli sur la base de la.. .Iai'citC.. . inapte a donner aux enfants 1'Cducation qui leur ~onvient'.'~The defeat of 1940 confirmed his worst fears about educating children outside of the teachings of God.

The remaining cardinal was Alfred Baudrillart, rector of the Institut Catholique at Paris. At eighty-one years of age, he had lived through three

See P. Pucheu, Ma vie (Paris, 1948), p. 289.
22 M. Marrus and R. 0.Paxton, Vichy France and the Jews (New York, 1g81), pp. 199-200.
23 Cardinal Gerlier quoted in Y.-M. Hilaire, 'L'Ctt 1940: L'effondrement et le sauveur', in

Eglises et chritiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France, p. 8 I. 24 Ibid. p. go. 25 Pucheu, Ma uie, p. 289 and R. Rtmond, Les catholiques, le communisme et les crises, rgzptg3g (Paris, 1960), p. 227. 26 J. E. Talbott, The politics of educational reform in France, 1g18-1g40 (Princeton, 1969)) pp. '94-7. " Cardinal Litnart quoted in J.-M. Mayeur, 'Les eveques de l'avant-guerre', in Eglises et chritiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France, p. 15.

15~ NICHOLAS ATKIN wars with Germany." He had also lived through the bitter conflicts of the 1880s over education. Even so, he had played an active part in the Union SacrCe of 1914, helping to organize the distribution of anti-German propaganda. After the war, he resumed his attacks on the republic and became fanatically anti-B~lshevik.~~

In 1940, he believed that France was on the verge of a communist revolution and was frightened of a repetition of the Paris Commune of 1871.~" TOprevent this, he urged PCtain to cement an alliance with Germany and he subsequently developed close ties with the collaborationists at Paris, occasionally writing articles for La Gerbe, the anti- semitic newspaper of Alphonse de Chateaubriand. By then, Baudrillart was clearly senile and he died in I 942.

These, then, were the leaders of the church. It was not long before they made their demands known to PCtain. On g July 1940, Gerlier visited Suhard at Paris.31 Top of their agenda was the question of catholic schools. On 25 July, LiCnart made the difficult journey from Lille in the forbidden zone to see Suhard. Once again, they discussed education. From these two meetings, a series of draft proposals quickly emerged. These closely resembled the points made by Verdier in his memorandum of January 1g4o.~' They included demands for the priest to teach the catechism in the e'cole publique; for the granting of subsidies to the e'cole libre; for the lifting of the restrictions on religious orders; and for the banning of any organization hostile to religious education. Shortly afterwards these requirements were endorsed by the AssemblCe des Cardinaux et ArchevEques (ACA) meeting on 28 August 1940. Thus it had taken the church less than two months to draw up a set of comprehensive demands which would reverse the past sixty years of republican laidte'.

There can be little doubt that the above suggestions were enthusiastically received by the new regime. The early Vichy cabinets were predominantly catholic in composition. At their head was, of course, Marshal PCtain. Although he had been brought up a catholic, he was not a fervent believer. Du Moulin de Labarthkte, his personal secretary, commented, 'ses sentiments religieux, hCritiCs d'une vieille IignCe de croyants, semblaient, dans l'ensemble, peu PCtain himself declared that an organ concert on the radio was sufficient to serve his personal needs.34 Nonetheless, he valued religion highly. Like Maurras, he saw it as a vital ingredient in the preservation of social stability. He thereby agreed with the church in its belief that the policies of the

See Mgr Grente, Le Cardinal Baudrillart (Paris, 1942). 29 For Baudrillart's role during the occupation, see Y. Marchasson, 'Autour du cardinal Baudrillart ', in Eglises et chritiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France, pp. 227-36.

A. Baudrillart, Le testiment d'un prince de I'eglise. Texte de la de'claration faite ir l'agence inter-France

le 12 nouembre 1940 (Paris, 1942). 31 Duquesne, Les catholiques frangais, p. 38. 32 Halls, Theyouth of Vichy France, p. 68; and A. Werth, France rgqerg55 (London, 1g5g),p. 59. 33 H. du Moulin de Labarthtte, Le temps des illusions. Souvenirs juillet rgqeavril 1942 (Gentve,

19461, P.95. 34 Duquesne, Les catholiques fran~ais, p. 18.

15~ NICHOLAS ATKIN began to dismiss left-wing teachers from positions of authority. In October, the politically powerful teachers' union, the Syndicat National des Instituteurs, was abolished. In its place, Vichy established a number of State-run associations. In the same month, the e'coles normales were dismantled. These were the teacher-training colleges of the old republic, and reputed to be strongholds of laihiti. The church, in turn, warmly applauded these moves.43 It also welcomed a number of minor concessions to its own schools. A law of 3 September 1940 overturned the teaching ban on religious orders imposed by Emile Combes in 1904. On 15 October 1940, the Caisse des Ecoles, a local charitable fund for state pupils, was opened up to catholic students. Nonetheless, these reforms fell far short of the ambitious requests of the cardinals of July 1940. Concerned above all else with the preservation of the fragile unity surrounding PCtain, the first three education ministers were deeply reluctant to introduce any measure which might provoke an anticlerical backlash. It was with considerable enthusiasm, therefore, that the church welcomed the appointment of Jacques Chevalier, first as secretary general for education in September I 940 and then as minister on 14 December I 940. His tenure of office marked the high point of clerical influence at Vichy. Like his predecessors, he was a distinguished academic and a political reactionary. After studying at the Ecole Normale SupCrieure and briefly at Oxford, he had taught philosophy at Grenoble where he became dean of letters in 193 I .44 While at Grenoble he published a number of works on Pascal and Descartes, and became a close friend of the Jewish philosopher, Henri Bergson. He also took a keen interest in educational affairs. In 1937, to the consternation of the popular front government, he was invited by Franco to prepare a plan for the reorganization of education in Spain.45 In I 940, he was a fanatical supporter of PCtain who also happened to be his godfather. Later in February 1941, he published France. Pe'tain m'a dit . . . Les pre'ceptes du mare'chal. Appel aux jeunes, a glowing tribute to the values of the national rev~lution.~~ Chevalier's appointment, as secretary general and then minister, created considerable excitement in the catholic press. Whereas La Croix (considered by many as the official daily newspaper of the church) devoted only two sentences to the appointment of Ripert,47 it regularly published lengthy features on Chevalier. For example, on 15/16 September 1940, it remarked, ' M.Jacques Chevalier est dans la tradition la plus haute et la plus pure de la philosophie spiritualiste et ~atholi~ue.'~'

Members of the church hierarchy also paid their tributes. In his pastoral letter of February 1941, Mgr Piguet, the bishop of Clermont, quoted extensively from Chevalier's declarations on ed~cation.~'

43 For catholic attitudes to the teachers, see N. Atkin, 'Church and teachers in Vichy France,

I 94-44 ', in French History, IV (I ggo), 1-22,

44 La Croix, 15/16 Sept. 1940, provides a biographical sketch of Chevalier.

45 J. Zay, Souvenirs et solitude (Paris, 1g44), p. 34.

Chevalier France. Pe'tain m'a dil . . . Les pre'ceptes du marichal. Appel aux jeunes (Paris, 1941). " La Croix, 8 Sept, 1940. 48 La Crozx, 15/ 16 Sept. 1940. 49 Mgr Piguet quoted in SR de Clermont, 8 Feb. 1941, no. 6, p. 71.

Others were less complimentary. Du Moulin de Labarthkte sardonically remarked, 'c'Ctait un prosClyte, une sorte de Templier, de moine ligueur, qu'animait une exaltation parfois troublante, et que le sens de la mesure n'habitait point'.50

Fired with this deep spiritual zeal, Chevalier considered that once inside the ministry of education it was his duty to do as much as possible to meet the demands of the church. While still only secretary general he had reintroduced the controversial devoirs envers Dieu into the ethics syllabus of state schools. The purpose of the devoirs was not to teach the existence of God, as it was believed that children were already aware of this, but respect for religion in general.51 It is also likely that it was Chevalier, not Ripert, who had opened the Caisse des Ecoles to catholic pupils. As minister, he built on these foundations. A law of 6 January 1941 gave communes the right to subsidize confessional schools. Another law of the same date made the catechism an optional subject on the state school timetable. In so doing, the new legislation dismantled one of the fundamental pillars of state neutralite'. According to the Loi Ferry, religious instruction had been a voluntary and additional subject given off school premises. To provide the time for this instruction, Thursday afternoons had been made a holiday for schools in order that those pupils who so desired could attend the priest's catechism class. Now that such instruction was no longer a voluntary matter but an optional part of the timetable, the catchism could be taught during the schoolday and not solely on Thursdays. In his defence, Chevalier claimed that in future Thursday afternoons would be a real holiday for childrem5'

Although the catholic press welcomed these moves, not everyone was pleased. The Germans, who had opposed Chevalier's appointment on account of his intense catholicism, were especially troubled by his law on religious education.53 The collaborationist press shared similar concerns. On 13/14 February 1941 Les Nouveaux Temps, the pro-German newspaper of Jean Luchaire, accused Chevalier of being a man of the Jesuits.54 Nor did all catholics support Chevalier. His measures on the catechism and the devoirs envers Dieu revealed divisions within the church which had not been so readily apparent in 1940 Liberal catholics, fronted by the personalist philosopher, Emmanuel Mounier, believed that Chevalier was moving too fast and was in danger of provoking anticleri~alism.~~

Members of the hierarchy were also

50 DU Moulin de Labarthkte, Le temps des illusions, p. 301.

51 For the history of the devoirs enuers Dieu, see Halls, The youth of Vichy France, pp. 69-72.

52 According to Chevalier's new legislation, the catechism was still to be taught off school premises. Yet in 'circonstances exceptionnelles', with the agreement of both the academy inspector and the local mayor, religious instruction could be given in the school itself. Writing after the war, Chevalier claimed that by 'circonstances exceptionnelles' he was thinking of those communes in mountainous regions where the journey between church and school was hazardous. See J. Chevalier, 'Un temoignage direct sur deux points d'histoire', in Ecrits de Paris, July 1953,

P. 85. 53 Pariser Zeitung, 30 Jan. 1941. 54 Les nouueaux temps, 13/14 Feb. 1941, cited in M. Cointet-Labrousse, 'La politique scolaire du

gouvernement de Vichy ', in Eglises et chre'ttiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France, p. I 77. 55 See 'Dieu a l'ecole', in Esprit, Feb. 1941, no. 97; Mar. 1941, no. 98; and Apr. 1941, no. 99.

beginning to have their doubts. Cardinal Suhard, always wary of becoming too involved in politics, was disconcerted by the stormy reaction that Chevalier had provoked. Finally, members of the Vichy government had become exasperated by Chevalier's clericalism and his constant refusal to consult colleague^.^^ Even PCtain appears to have been troubled by these criticisms, and in late February 1941 he moved Chevalier to the less sensitive post of minister of health and the family where he remained until illness forced him to retire later that year. Eventually Chevalier returned to his post at Grenoble; he was not toknow another opportunity to help the ~hurdh.~~

Initially, there was some confusion as to who should succeed Chevalier. The Germans wanted the writer Abel Bonnard, noted for his collaborationist views; yet PCtain settled on the great classical scholar, JCri5me Carcopino. Formerly the director of the Ecole de Rome, Carcopino had been appointed in 1940 head of the Ecole Normale SupCrieure, where he had also been a student. But, as a compromise appointment, Carcopino did not please everyone. Although the Germans reconciled themselves to him, the collabo- rationist press was disappointed that Bonnard had not been chosen and published a number of stinging criticisms of the new minister. One of these attacks, which appeared in La Gerbe of 7 August 1941, proved particularly embarrassing to the church because its author had been recommended to the newspaper by Cardinal Ba~drillart.~' This led to an apology by Suhard who excused the rector of the Institut Catholique on the grounds of his old age.59

But Baudrillart was not the only member of the church hierarchy unhappy at Carcopino's appointment. As Henri Dodier, a high-ranking educational official, commented,

Je ne crois pas que la substitution de M. JCrBme Carcopino a M. Jacques Chevalier eiit jamais inquiCtC l'archeveque de Paris; mais il est certain qu'elle avait fait naitre des regrets dans certains regions de l'episcopat de province, ou la crainte avait CtC exprimCe qu'un historien fiit moins apte qu'un philosophe a l'apaisement des antiques rivalitis ~colaires.~~

Despite these misgivings about him, Carcopino genuinely wanted to find a solution to the schools question. As a moderate catholic, he sought to reconcile all shades of opinion and regarded Chevalier's legislation as a threat to religious peace. Thus he accepted his appointment as minister on the condition that he could restore the traditional neutralite'of the state school.61 He

56 DU Moulin de Labarthkte, Le temps des illusions, p. 302.

57 At the liberation Chevalier was tried for having supported the pro-German Milice and was sentenced to twenty years hard labour. See P. Novick, The resistance versus Vichy. The purge of collaborators in liberated France (London, 1968), p. 222.

58 La Gerbe, 7 Aug. 1941. Also see H. Dodier, A la recherche de la paix scholaire. Quelgues souvenirs

sur son e'minence le Cardinal Suhard, 1g4~1gqg(Lava], 1g53), pp 3-4.

59 Dodier, A la recherche de la pazx scolaire, p. 33. Ibid. p. 26.

61 Carcopino also laid down two other conditions on his appointment: that he could maintain

the traditional liberties of the university and that he could return to his post as director of the Ecole Normale Superieure when his term of office was over. See J. Carcopino, Souvenirs de sept ans, 1937-1944 (Paris, 19531, P. 271.

quickly went about his task. On 10March 1941, the catechism again became a voluntary and additional subject.62 At the same time, the devoirs envers Dieu were altered to the more neutral 'devoirs envers ...nos semblables (respect des familles, de la patrie, de la pensCe d'autrui et des croyances religieuses) '. These changes caused some considerable disappointment in catholic circles, but a few members of the hierarchy, notably Cardinal Suhard and Mgr Feltin of Bordeaux, acknowledged that Carcopino had acted for the best.63

Henceforth, Carcopino was more concerned with the internal reorgan- ization of state education. On 15 August 1941, he promulgated a series of wide-ranging reforms intended to promote a 'culture gCnCrale'.64 However, the church was to gain one further concession from Vichy during Carcopino's tenure as minister: the law of 2 November 1941 granting state subsidies to private elementary schools.65 Yet even in conceding these privileges Carcopino was concerned to avoid religious division. Accordingly, strict controls were established to monitor the academic standards of those schools assisted. State financial support was also described as an exceptional and temporary measure. Finally, Chevalier's legislation on the Caisse des Ecoles and communal subventions was abolished. This solution came as a disappointment to church leaders who had hoped that subsidies to private schools would be recognized as an indisputable right.

In any case, by November 194.1 the hierarchy was anxious to distance itself from the regime. Although the cardinals and archbishops retained their admiration for PCtain, they were worried that the church was in danger of compromising itself too much with the government and was at risk of abandoning its traditional policy of neutrality towards the state. These anxieties were expressed by the ACA of the occupied zone meeting at Paris on I 5 January I 941. In an open letter to the pope, the hierarchy announced :

.4bsolument decide a nous tenir sur le plan religieux, nous entendons eviter tout agissement politique ou partisan et rester uniquement appliquCs au bien spirituel des imes et au soulagement des infortunes. Nous professons dans le domaine social et civique un loyalisme complet envers le pouvoir Ctabli du gouvernement de France; nous demandons a nos fideles d'entretenir cet esprit.66

No longer was Vichy 'le pouvoir lkgitime', but merely 'le pouvoir Ctabli'. A

62 Although Carcopino made the catechism a voluntary subject, he was anxious to appease church opinion. Thus he allowed religious instruction to remain part of the school timetable. See Halls, The youth of Vichy France, pp. 73-4,

63 Dodier, A la recherche de la paix scolaire, pp. 28-9.

64 For a commentary on these reforms, see Halls, The youth of Vichy France, pp. 26-31 and R. 0.Paxton, Vichy France. Old guard and new order, 194~~1944

(New York, 1972), pp 159-60,

65 Church leaders had been involved in negotiations for state subsidies since the start of the war. Not surprisingly, they used the traditional argument that catholic parents deserved help because they paid twice over for their children's education: once, through fees to the kole libre and, secondly, through taxation to the e'cole publigue. The hierarchy also added that the austerity of wartime was threatening a huge financial crisis in catholic education which might lead to the closure of several of its schools. It was this latter argument which held more sway with Carcopino. See Carcopino, Souuenzrs de sept ans, p. 320.

Declaration of 15January 1941 cited in Duquesne, Les catholiguesfran~ais, p. 50.


few months later, on 24 July 1941, a new text was formulated by the ACA. This took the form of a declaration:

Nous voulons que, sans infeodation, soit pratique un loyalisme sinctre et complet envers le pouvoir etabli. Nous vCnCrons le chef de 1'Etat et nous demandons instamment que se rCalise autour de lui l'union de tous les Franqais. L'union toujours, est principe de force.67

Thus the hierarchy, in refusing all 'infkodation' to 'le pouvoir Ctabli', had significantly moderated its position in regard to Vichy.

Even so, the attitude of church leaders towards the regime was still ambiguous. This ambiguity is nowhere more apparent than in the field of education. It is significant that, while distancing themselves politically from Vichy, members of the hierarchy still sought to court its favours. In particular, they wished to see an improvement in the negotiating machinery with the government. There was a particular need to regularise the conduct of educational affairs. Although the ACA possessed a ComitC National de 1'Enseignement Libre to help formulate policy, this had few direct links with the government. Under the third republic there had been little point. Now there was a need, but the church was slow to respond. For much of 1940 and 1941, negotiations with the state were carried out by individual members of the hierarchy. Yet in September 1941, the ACA created a Bureau de Coordination et de Liaison, attached to the aforementioned C~mitC.~'

At its head was Mgr Beaussart, auxiliary bishop of Paris. His job was not an easy one. At roughly the same time as his appointment, Mgr Chappoulie, the former director of the Oeuvres Pontificales Missionnaires, was made the ACA's representative at Vichy and was charged to deal with all aspects of churchlstate relations, including education. It was not long before the two men, Beaussart at Paris and Chappoulie at Vichy, were pursuing contradictory policies. This annoyed the ministry of education which argued that only Beaussart was accredited to deal with educational affairs.69 The auxiliary bishop of Paris was also frustrated in his job and on I I November 1942 he handed in his resignation." This came as a disappointment to the church, yet the hierarchy acknowledged that he had been placed in an awkward position. In a letter of 2 December 1942, LiCnart even admitted that Chappoulie's appointment as ACA representative had undermined Beaussart's dignity as a bishop.71 Beaussart denied this and claimed his resignation was 'uniquement motivC par I'impossibilitC ou je me trouvais de remplir la mission qui m'avait CtC c~nfiC'.~~ Mgr

Nonetheless, it is significant that Beaussart's replacement -Aubry, vicar general of OrlCans -came from the lower ranks of the hierarchy.

67 Declaration of 24 July 1941 cited in La vie catholique. Documents et actes de la hie'rarchie catholique. Anne'es rgqprgqr (Paris, 1g4z), p. 65.

68 A[rchives] N[ationales] F1' 13365, Note of 24 Sept. 1941.

69 AN F1' 13365, Letter of Bonnard to Litnart, I I Nov. 1942.

" AN F1' 13365, Letter of Beaussart to the ministry of education, I I Nov. 1942.

AN F1' 13365, Letter of LiCnart to Beaussart, 2 Dec. 1942.

'' AN F1' 13365, Letter of Beaussart to Lienart, 7 Dec. 1942.

At the same time, Suhard gave assurances to both Vichy and Aubry that the Bureau de Coordination would work in close collaboration with Chappo~lie.'~


This organizational confusion undoubtedly hampered negotiations between the hierarchy and the government. Yet even more damaging to churchlstate relations was the appointment of Bonnard as minister of education in April 1942. With the return to power of Lava1 on 18 April, it was clear that Carcopino could not remain in office for long and he duly returned to his post at the Ecole Normale SupCrieure where he remained until the end of the war.74 With his departure, Vichy educational policy entered a new phase. As the government became more and more subservient to Germany, there was little attempt at constructive reform and even less sympathy for the ideas of the church.

Bonnard was a man of a very different stamp to his predecessors at the ministry of education. Whereas they had all been distinguished academics, Bonnard was an essayist, poet and jo~rnalist.'~ In his many writings, he had devoted little time to the problem of education and was more renowned for his collaborationism. In 1936, he had been an open admirer of nazism and the following year travelled to Germany and met Hitler. Yet in 1942 it was his private life that attracted most comment. He was a well-known homosexual. Jean Zay, the former education minister of the popular front, commented, 'La moralit6 personelle de M. Abel Bonnard est connue dans 1'UniversitC; son avknement fera ensa at ion'.'^ PCtain himself, who had no liking for his new minister, described Bonnard as 'La Gestapette', a word derived from 'Gestapo' and ' tapette', French slang for 'queer'."

Such a man was unlikely to endear himself to the church. Only a few clerics wrote to congratulate Bonnard on his appointment and most of these were known supporters of c~llaboration.~~ Equally, Bonnard himself felt little empathy towards the clergy. Although he was a close friend of Cardinal Baudrillart, he was a fierce anticlerical and expressed no personal need for religion. The collaborationist newspaper, La France Socialiste, hailed his appointment as 'Le Retour a la La~citC'.'~ Indeed, it was not long before he expressed his prejudices. For example, a law of 4 August 1942 prevented catholic technical schools from awarding their own certificates. Bonnard justified this move on the grounds that it would improve standards and pointed out that state examinations would now be open to all. Yet, as Mgr

73 AN F17 13365, Letter of Suhard to Bonnard, 23 Jan. 1943. 74 At the liberation, Carcopino was tried as an ex-minister of the Vichy government. Because he had assisted the resistance, the charges were dropped. See Halls, Theyouth of Vichy France, p.

32;5 lor an introduction to the career of Bonnard, see J hlikvre 'L3Evolution politiyue d'Abel

Bonnard', La Revue #Histoire de la De~ixidme Guerre Mondiale, CVIII, (1g77), pp. 1-26.

76 Zay, Souvenirs et solitude, p. 259.

" P.Jardin, Vichy boyhood. An insider's uiew ofthe Pe'tain regime (London, 1975), p. 58.

78 These letters may be found in AN F17 13342. '' La France Socialiste, 29 Apr. 1942.


Aubry complained, the law devalued the worth of catholic education as it meant that several private institutions were no longer able to compete on the same basis as their state counterparts.80 A few months later, Bonnard dealt the church another blow when he refused to consider subsidies to private technical schools despite urgent pleas by Cardinal Lienart."

We may see, therefore, that Bonnard was disinclined to help the church. Nor was the regime itself as favourably disposed towards clerical demands. The last major concession to the church had been the law of 8 April 1942 releasing religious orders from the need for state authorizati~n.~~

Yet this had been rushed through before Laval's return to power. With Laval now in charge, the government was distinctly less clerical in complexion. Apart from Petain and Joseph Barthelemy (minister of justice, January 1941-March 1g43), there were few noted catholics at Vichy. Their numbers were even fewer following the occupation of all of France in November I 942. Thereafter, Vichy became more subservient to nazi designs. This was reflected in the stepping up of measures against the Jews and the introduction of the compulsory labour scheme, the Service du Travail Obligatoire (STO), which compelled young Frenchmen to go to Germany.

Once again, the church was forced to reconsider its attitude towards the regime. Yet, as before, it adopted an ambivalent position. At a special meeting of December 194.2, members of the ACA reaffirmed their support for Petain, but admitted that the powers of government were limited following the occupation of all of the country.83 They also warned against detracting from the authority of the regime at a time when it faced a number of difficulties. Finally, they added : ' I1 faut eviter de compromettre 1'Eglise en l'enfeodant au pouvoir et donc s'abstenir de toute declaration sensationnelle d'attachement.' Such statements did little to clarify the church's position. While the hierarchy had continued to distance itself from Vichy, it had not completely broken its allegiance to the regime and still retained hopes of winning further concessions.

This was certainly the case in education. Aware of a rapidly changing situation, the hierarchy began to look for ways to consolidate the gains which the church had already made. Not only did these appear threatened by the Germans, there was also the fear that Laval or Bonnard might claw back some of the favours which Vichy had originally granted. A few astute members of the church leadership, conscious of Allied victories in North Africa and the Soviet advance in the east, might even have been looking ahead to a future date when Vichy was no longer the government of France. Yet how did the church intend to safeguard these gains? One possibility, in principle, was a concordat. Before the war, a number of concordats -notably those concluded

AN F1' 13390, 'Voeux exprimts par Mgr Aubry a M. le Minstre de ]'Education Nationale au cours de son audience du 31 mars 1943' (Report dated I Apr. 1943). AN F1' 13365, Letter of Bonnard to Pierre Cathala, minister of finance, I I May 1943, comments on Lienart's request. For the role of the religious orders during the occupation, see N. Atkin, Church and schools in Vichy France, rgqe44 (New York, 1992, forthcoming). 83 Declaration of December 1942 cited in Duquesne, Les catholigues franqais, pp. 275-6.

in Poland and Bavaria in 1925 and Italy in 1929 -had conceded important privileges to the church within ed~cation.'~

However, as we shall see, by 1943 a concordat in France was, for all realistic purposes, out of the question. A lesser option was for church and state to draw up a statute for enseignement libre which would guarantee the freedoms of catholic schools. Yet even this would prove unobtainable.

The idea of a concordat had first been raised in the summer of 1940. Marc Boegner, the head of the FCdCration Protestante, recalls that when he visited Vichy on 26 July there was a great deal of talk about a new settlement between church and state.85 Recent research has indeed unearthed a project dating from around this time.'6 The authorship of the document remains unknown, but it may well have been drawn up by a strongly PCtainist bishop such as Mgr Chollet of Cambrai. As well as dealing with the contentious issue of episcopal nominations, the project had far-reaching implications for education. Article 3 called for the suspension of all discriminatory legislation against the religious orders and Article 4 demanded the inclusion of a weekly lesson of religious instruction in the programmes scolaires of the state school.

Although the evidence remains impressionistic, it appears likely that this document was discussed -and rejected -by the ACA meeting on 28 August 1g4o." The hierarchy fully understood that any project which replaced the law of separation of 1905 would require careful presentation and close consultation with the papacy. In the meantime, church leaders preferred to present their demands separately. As we have seen, this is how they proceeded in education. Nonetheless, the hierarchy does appear to have raised the question -in theory at least -with the government. Evidence to support this comes from a long memorandum of 20 October 1940 on church/state relations." This had been drawn up by Pierre Sauret, the Directeur des Cultes at the ministry of the interior. In this document, Sauret argued that the absence of spiritual values had been an important factor in the defeat. It was thus necessary for the state to promote the moral regeneration of France and seek a rapprochement with the church. To achieve this, Sauret favoured a number of concessions to the church, including a relaxation of the laws governing the religious orders. At the same time, he believed that the church should surrender something of its independence by allowing the state a greater say in episcopal nominations. Thus it seems clear that the church did raise the issue of a concordat with Vichy and it appears likely that the regime was sympathetic to the idea. Yet both sides viewed the question from their own point of view and were reluctant to make concessions.

It remains extremely uncertain how negotiations proceeded after 1940, if indeed they proceeded at all. It seems probable that the ACA again discussed s4 Excerpts from these concordats may be found in P. Faure, L'Ecole et la cite'(Paris, 1945)~ pp. 327-8 " M. Boegner, L'Exigence oecume'nigue. Souvenirs et perspectiues (Paris, 1968), p. 134. " F. Delpech, 'Le projet de concordat de 1'Ctt ~gqo', in Eglises et chrhiens duns la IIe guerre mondiale. La France, pp. 185-8. " Ibid. p. 187. " AN 2 AG 492 CC72 A, Pierre Sauret, 'Mtmoire a consulter pour une politique religieuse de l'dtat', 20 Oct. 1940.


the matter in June 1941, yet no proposals emerged from the meting.89 In a secret despatch the following year, LCon BCrard, Vichy's ambassador to the Vatican, reported that the papacy was generally amenable to the idea of a concordat, but believed that it would be difficult to reach agreement over such thorny problems as episcopal nomination^.^^ Nevertheless, there was considerable excitement in catholic circles when at the beginning of 1943 Cardinal Suhard travelled to Rome to meet Pius XII.91 It was widely rumoured that Suhard was going to set in motion negotiations for a concordat. But this speculation soon proved unfounded. A government note of 3 February

1943 tersely remarked, 'les milieux ecclCsiastiques de Vichy estiment que la question de concordat est loin d'avoir CtC rCsolue, lors du rCcent voyage du Cardinal Suhard a Rome'.92 Thereafter, the question does not appear to have figured prominently in churchlstate relations.

Because of the lack of any hard evidence, it remains unclear what advantages a concordat might have brought the church within education. It seems probable that the hierarchy would have insisted that any new settlement should embody the right of catholic schools to state subsidies, the freedom of association for religious orders, and maybe the inclusion of religious instruction as an integral part of the state school timetable. Yet it is difficult to see how Vichy would have given in on this final issue following the furore created by Chevalier's legislation on the catechism. It is even more difficult to imagine how church and state could have reached agreement on wider issues such as episcopal nominations. As we have seen, by I 943 the church was wary of Vichy and was determined to surrender none of its independence. However, the greatest obstacle facing a new settlement was the opposition of the papacy. Although the Vatican had some sympathy with the aims of the national revol~tion,~~

by 1943 it regarded Vichy as a transitory regime. Mgr Valerio Valeri caught this mood perfectly when he warned that to conclude an agreement with such a government was to try and build on shifting sandsg4

In the absence of a concordat, the more limited option open to the church was to secure a statute for enseignement libre. This was seen as a particularly effective means of securing state assistance for catholic schools. It will be recalled that the law of 2 November 1941 had granted subsidies to private schools, but only as a temporary expedient and not as an inalienable right. Thus throughout 1942 the church pressed for further concessions. This led Dr Grasset, minister of health in the Lava1 government, to look into the question.

F. Delpech, 'Le projet de concordat de l'ttt 1g40', in Eglises et chre'tiens duns la IIe guerra

mondiale. La France, p. 187. AN 2 AG 543 CCI~

Troisikme dossier, 'Rtsumt d'une dtptche de M. Leon Berard, Ambassadeur de France prks de Saint-Sikge en date de 8 juin rgqz'. Also see W. D. Halls: 'Church and state: Prelates, theologians and the Vichy regime', in F. Tallett & N. Atkin (eds.), Religion, society and politics in France since 1789 (London, I gg I, pp. I 67-86). Btrard himself was enthusiastic about the possibility of a concordat.

AN 2 AG 492 CC72 A, note of 22 Jan. 1943.

'' AN 2 AG 492 CC72 A, note of 3 Feb. 1943.

s3 AN 2 AG 492 CC72 A, note of 22 Jan. 1943 comments on the papacy's sympathy for Pttain.

s4 Mgr Valerio Valeri quoted in Duquesne, Les catholiquesfrangair, p. 104.

He produced two draft statutes in November 1942 and July 1943.'~ In both of these, he acknowledged that catholic schools faced severe economic hardships. Accordingly, he devised a complicated system to improve the salaries of catholic teachers who were notoriously under-paid. Yet neither set of proposals proved acceptable to the church. In a letter of 21 October 1943, Mgr Aubry explained to PCtain's cabinet that Grasset had misinterpreted the structure of catholic education and, as a result, his proposals were ~nworkable.'~To remedy these defects, in February 194.4 the church drew up its own set of co~nter-~ro~osals.~~

. . Although PCtain took an interest in these, the government did not follow up the suggestions.

Thus in the remaining months of the regime, education did not play any significant part in churchlstate relations. Bonnard dissociated himself from catholic requests and was more concerned with ensuring his safe passage from France in case of an allied invasion." Likewise, the church looked anxiously to the future. The signs were ominous. In Algeria, the consultative assembly announced its intention of restoring republican legality." When de Gaulle arrived in Paris in August 1944 he informed Suhard of his intention of reversing all Vichy legislation.100 Even so, the church still retained some hope of preserving the advantages it had gained under Vichy, especially the law of 2 November 1941. On 28 February 194.5, the ACA demanded that a 'solution de justice' be found for the schools question.'0' But the hierarchy was soon disappointed. Although a commission was set up under the chairmanship of the pre-war socialist, AndrC Philip, to look into the possibility of a statute for education, it failed to reach an agreement.''' In this situation, the government had no other option but to abrogate all of Vichy's religious and educational measures.

Although Vichy had lasted only four years, during that regime the church had launched a concerted attack on the ideals of laibite'. Yet this assault had paid few dividends. Catholics had failed to overturn the neutralite' of the state educational system. Although the church enjoyed a moment of revenge over the instituteurs, it had proved impossible to reintroduce the catechism as an integral component of the state school timetable. Much of what the church had done merely reawakened anticlerical arguments which had lain dormant

95 AN 2 AG 609 CM25 B, 'Statut de l'enseignement libre', Aug. 1943. A note attached refers to the scheme of November 1942.

96 AN 2 AG 609 CM25 B, Letter of Mgr Aubry to Pttain's cabinet, 21 Oct. 1943.

" AN 2 AG 609 CM25 B, 'Statut du personnel de l'enseignement libre', g Feb. 1944.

'' Following the allied invasion of France, Bonnard left with other members of the Vichy government for the castle of Sigmaringen. From there he made ajourney to Spain where he settled in exile. Meanwhile, in Paris he was condemned to death in absentia. In 1960, he returned to France where he received a nominal sentence of ten years banishment dating from 1945. This, of course, meant his immediate release. See Halls, The youth of Vichy France, p. 61.

" A. Latreille, De Gaulle, la libe'ration et l'eglise catholigue (Paris, 1978), p. 99.

loo Duquesne, Les catholiquesfranqais, p. 453. lo' Ibid, p. 545.

lo2 The commission's report may be found in AN 71 AJ 66.

for years. Nor had it gained much for its own schools. While it is true that the religious orders recovered the right to teach, this meant little to the monks and nuns themselves. They were long since accustomed to teaching outside of the law and, indeed, would continue to do so after 1944. Perhaps the most significant achievement of the church had been the law of 2 November 1941. Not only had this improved the material position of catholic schools, it had also set a vitally important precedent for state aid, a precedent that would be successfully invoked in the Loi DebrC of 1959.

Thus the church accomplished far less under Vichy than it had originally envisaged. The initial hope of 1940 soon gave way to disappointment and frustration. Why was the church so unsuccessful? Firstly, wartime was not the ideal environment in which to seek a solution to the schools question. The demarcation line and the German presence ensured that it was impossible to find anything more than temporary solutions to long-term problems. Secondly, the church itself was awkwardly placed to negotiate with the government. As we have seen, the formulation of educational policy was largely the responsibility of the Cardinals and the ACA, yet it was not until the autumn of 1941 that the church established an office with direct links to the ministry of education. Thirdly, the church was internally divided as to how it hoped to achieve its ends and disagreed over what its objectives ought to be. While broad consensus was reached on the need to strengthen catholic education and to influence children in the state school, little agreement existed as to how these aims could be best achieved.

Traditionalists -prominent in the middle ranks of the hierarchy -wanted to see the complete abrogation of all the secular laws on education. For them, Vichy was a moment of revenge on the lai'citi of the old republic. Others such as cardinals Lienart and Suhard were more moderate men. It is true that they sought the removal of the secular laws, but they preferred more conciliatory means and were prepared to accept that the state school should retain a degree of neutrality. Then there were a handful of liberal catholics. Although they had no liking for the laicism of the past, they respected state neutrality and recognized that the church should not use the moment of military defeat to overhaul the country's institutions. Thus French catholicism under Vichy was never a monolithic bloc. As in the inter-war years, it comprised several elements each of which had its own competing vision of the future.

A fourth reason why the church accomplished so little during the occupation was the nature of the regime itself. Ultimately, the church was reliant on Vichy to modify the secular laws; yet the regime was never as pro-clerical as is sometimes assumed. While Petain was prepared to concede the most radical demands, others were more cautious and acknowledged that extreme anti- secularist policies could well undermine the frail unity surrounding the marshal. This caution was reflected in Vichy educational policy. As we have noted, this underwent a number of phases. The initial phase was largely destructive. Anxious to please catholic opinion, Rivaud, Mireaux and Ripert were prepared to dismantle many of the most hated features of the republican educational system. Yet they were reluctant to introduce any measure that might provoke anticlericalism. The second phase -undertaken by Chevalier -lasted little over two months and marked the high-point of catholic influence at Vichy. Should he have survived in office, then it is likely that he would have met several of the demands of the church. Ultimately, however, his high- handed methods alienated his colleagues and led to his fall. The third phase -inaugurated by Carcopino -lasted barely a year and represented a partial return to the principles of lai'cite'. Although Carcopino genuinely wanted to find a solution to the schools question, he found that the circumstances of wartime made his task impossible. The final phase -initiated by Bonnard continued until the end of the occupation and was characterized by its anticlericalism and negativism. Thus this study has emphasized the limitations to many of Vichy's educational and religious measures. Apart from the issue of the catechism, these were never as radical as is sometimes believed.

As Vichy became less favourably disposed towards clerical demands, the church itself began to drift away from the regime. At first, catholics were eager to rally round the government and it cannot be denied that the majority retained their faith in Petain until the bitter end. Yet many had become wary of the marshal's colleagues. Their move away from Vichy came as early as January 1941. Not only were church leaders worried about the legitimacy of the regime, they were also disappointed by its policies. To several of the hierarchy, the dismissal of Chevalier was a clear indication of the limits to which Vichy was prepared to go to meet their demands. Admittedly, however, it was not until April 1942 that the church was forced to make real choices. Even then, church leaders attempted to consolidate their gains and failed to realize that, should the Germans win the war, all these advantages would be swept away. Yet several of the hierarchy had been brought up in a different age and were still fighting the religious battles of the 1880s and early 1900s. As a result, they were unable to give a clear lead to the faithful. It would be left to members of the lower clergy and catholic youth organizations to make an emphatic stand against nazism.lo3

The occupation was, therefore, an unhappy episode in the history of French catholicism. The church had tried -and failed -to obtain a solution to the schools question. In so doing, it had exacerbated old divisions and had divided the faithful. The church had also compromised itself with Vichy. It is little surprise that at the liberation members of the hierarchy were criticized by both left and right for the ambivalent role they had played during the war. Nonetheless, the history of the occupation contained important lessons for the future. To several catholics, particularly among the laity, it was clear that if they genuinely wanted to resolve the schools question, then it was necessary to adopt a more conciliatory attitude and abandon the battle-cries of the past. Some quickly learnt these lessons; for others, they have yet to be understood.

lo3 See Duquesne, Les catholiques frangais, passim.

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