Church–State rapprochement

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Above: French president Raymond Poincaré—his concept of Union sacrée in response to the war included rapprochement between Church and State. (Le Petit Journal, 26 January 1913)

Above: French president Raymond Poincaré—his concept of Union sacrée in response to the war included rapprochement between Church and State. (Le Petit Journal, 26 January 1913)

The war had brought the French State and the French Catholic Church much closer than they had been for some time. Ever since the French Revolution of 1789, anti-clericalism had become an increasingly common feature in the country once referred to as ‘the Eldest Daughter of the Church’. This culminated in the 1905 law on the separation of the Churches and the State, which firmly established France as a secular state. Following the invasion of Belgium by German troops in August 1914, French president Raymond Poincaré introduced the concept of Union sacrée to describe the new political departure created in response to the war. This union consisted of political parties from all sides coming together to defend the country. Trade unions and the various religious denominations active in France, including the Catholic Church, also supported this new arrangement. The war not only brought Church and State closer together but also led to a resurgence of patriotism and nationalism within the Church’s members.

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