March 10, 2010


In the bosom of the Church today, “integralists” are those who do not understand that Christianity needs a new theology, and “progressives” are those who do not understand that the new theology must be Christian.

Escolios a un Texto Implícito: Selección, p. 126


  1. "Integralism" is a bit of an outdated word nowadays, dating from the period of Vatican II, but here is an explanation.

    In "The Peasant of the Garonne" (1966), Jacques Maritain contrasts integralists with people like Teilhard de Chardin (and the Teilhardists) who wanted to remake Christian theology, right around the time of Vatican II. The problem with the integralists, though, is that while they affirm the right formulas, they subordinate truth to their need for security.

    "[Integralism] takes hold of true formulas which it empties of their living content and freezes in the refrigerators of a restless police of the minds. In these true formulas it is not truth that integralism actually sets its heart on and places above everything--truth which demands to be understood in its precise balance and exact meaning...In the formulas which it freezes, integralism sees and cherishes human means of security--whether for the convenience of intellects which immobility reassures by giving them, at cut-rate, a good bedrock of fidelity, inner coherence, and firmness--or for the equally cheap protection these frozen formulas offer persons in authority, sparing them any risk when they brandish them, prudently as regards themselves, and rudely when it comes to others--or for the ease of government they provide as instruments of prohibition, more or less covert threat and intimidation."

    And, integralism is too closely connected to reactionary politics for Maritain:

    "[A]s a rule, it is tied to a political and social philosophy which is itself dominated by a secret need for security above all. Confronted no longer with the movement of ideas but with the movement of history, this philosophy takes refuge in utopian claims of restoring order (it's been upset, hasn't it, by this cursed fever for justice of which men should be cured); it cherishes force and a brutal authoritarianism, especially when they derive from a usurped power; it distrusts the people and freedom, and, in spite of occasional demagogic trappings, helps to buttress the interests of mighty ones and a regime of protracted social injustice which, shaken in the end, stops at nothing to insure its survival in the midst of a world in turmoil but in development."

  2. The original Spanish is:

    En el seno de la Iglesia actual, son “integristas” los que no han entendido que el cristianismo necesita una teología nueva y “progresistas” los que no han entendido que la nueva teología debe ser cristiana.