Nature – Supernature – State

21 04 2009


Fr. Peter Bernardi, S.J. on Maurice Blondel, Charles Maurras, and the Future of the Past in Catholic Europe

Fr. Peter Bernardi, S.J. gave a talk on his book, Maurice Blondel, Social Catholicism, and Action Fran├žaise: The Clash over the Church’s Role in Society During the Modernist Era at Loyola University in New Orleans last night. The talk did not just address the evolution of Catholic political movements in France in the early twentieth century, but also focused on the main theological problem that the Church struggled with in the 20th century: the divide between nature and supernature, the state of man in his “normal condition” and man under the influence of grace. According to Bernardi, Blondel and the pro-Action Fran├žaise Jesuit Pedro Descoqs represented polar opposite approaches in addressing the role of supernature in the natural political order. While the Jesuit defended in the name of neo-scholastic extrinsicism the French theorist Charles Maurras’ theory of the union of Church and State , Blondel advocated “social Catholic” collaboration with the liberal state in the hope of being a Christian influence that could reverse the trend of an increasingly secularized society. For Bernardi, Blondel’s liberalism resulted from his philosophical principles in which nature was never sufficient unto itself and needed to be transformed by evangelical ideas of justice and love.
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