|Sillon: The Furrow Re-born?|
|Written by Sherry|
|Wednesday, 04 April 2007 07:29|
Francois Bayrou is heir of a historic "liberal" Catholic tradition in France. His father was associated with movements who were the heirs of one of the earliest lay movements, the famous Sillon ("Furrow") movement founded by Marc Sangnier in 1894.
(This is a picture of Marc Sangnier working in the Sillon office)
Encouraged by Rerum Novarum, the landmark encyclical by Leo XIII, Sillon established Study Circles for young workers and students to apply the church's teaching and build democracy in France. Peter Maurin, who would later found the Catholic Worker Movement with Dorothy Day, was part of the Sillon movement in the early days.
Starting in 1906, Sillon became politically involved which led to conflict with the Church. Although Sillon was reorganized to try and meet the concerns of the French hierarchy, it wasn't enough. Pope Pius X wrote a letter to the French bishops, Notre Charge Apostolique, which condemned the Sillonnist conception of democracy, and called for resignation of leaders and episcopal control. Faithful to the Church, Marc Sangnier and the sillonnists closed down the movement.
80 years later, Pope John Paul II described the Church's response to different understandings of democracy:
"The Catholic acceptance of democracy becomes more convinced and open-armed, and this also, of course, implies the more precise delimitation of the positive side of democracy, which is chosen over against the negative and relativist meaning of democracy. To be sure, the right of being guided politically, in a participatory way, does not originate at all from an uncertainty about truth, and therefore from a leveling of all opinions as if they shared equal value. It originates, rather, from a specific dignity of the human person, who, to perceive the common action as his own and to grow through it, needs to be guided by an authority which gives reasons for its actions and which solicits the assent of those subordinated to itself."
After Marc Sangnier's death on Pentecost Sunday 1950, his wife Rénée received this remarkable testimony from, Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, then Nuncio of the Holy See in Paris:
Of course, Roncalli would eventually be known as Blessed John XXIII.