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Recruitment to the Clergy in Nineteenth-Century France: "Modernization" and "Decline"?

Recruitment to the Clergy in Nineteenth-Century France: "Modernization" and "Decline"?

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Published by Erwin Jason Mendoza
Recruitment to the Clergy in Nineteenth-Century France: "Modernization" and "Decline"?
Recruitment to the Clergy in Nineteenth-Century France: "Modernization" and "Decline"?

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Recruitment to the Clergy in Nineteenth-Century France: "Modernization" and "Decline"?Author(s): Edward T. Gargan and Robert A. HannemanSource:
Journal of Interdisciplinary History,
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Autumn, 1978), pp. 275-295Published by: The MIT PressStable URL:
Accessed: 24/03/2010 03:33
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Journal of Interdisciplinary History.
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Journal ofInterdisciplinary History,
IX:2
(Autumn 1978),275-295.
Edward T.GarganandRobertA.Hanneman
Recruitment to theClergyinNineteenth-CenturyFrance:"Modernization" and
"Decline"
?
Boulardhassuggestedthat the condition oftheclergycanbestbeapproachedby specifyingitsrecruitmentsuc-cess andfailureduringthenineteenthcentury.Mostexaminationsofproblemsoftheclergyareinagreementthat themutations ofnineteenth-century societyadverselyaffected the numbers ofthosebeingordained.1 Theconsensus includesacceptanceoftheideathatchangesinvolvingurbanization,growthofsecular edu-cation,universalmilitaryservice, industrialization,the seculartrend inrealwages,andgovernmentfinancialsupportorits with-drawalaffected therecruitment to theclergy.Forboththeclergyof thenineteenthcenturyand theirhistorians,thesechangescon-stitutedsignificant aspectsofmodernitywithin which theclergy'sabilityto sustaintheir numbers had to be workedout.Thisparticularview ofmodernitywas notdependent uponthepresentdaydebatesconcerningmodernityand theambiguityand ambi-vilancesurroundingits value as aconcept.2Butthereisneedtoexplorewhetherornot thefeaturesof modernization identifiedbythenineteenth-centuryclergyascontributingto theirgainsandlossesactuallywerecorrelated with the levels and ratesof
EdwardT.Garganis ProfessorofHistoryat theUniversityofWisconsin,Madison.Robert A.Hanneman is a Ph.D.candidateintheDepartmentofSociology, UniversityofWisconsin,Madison.IFernandBoulard,Essor oudeclinduclergefranfais?(Paris,
1950);
idem,Premiersitinerairesensociologie religieuse(Paris,1966);FernandBoulardandJeanRemy, Pratique religieuseurbaineetregionsculturelles(Paris,1968).Allmodernscholarshipisdependentupontheformative work ofGabriel LeBras,esp.,etudes desociologiereligieuse (Paris, I955-I956),
2
v. For anaccountoftheexperiencesofFrance's secularclergythroughoutthe nineteenthcenturyseeEdward T.Gargan,"ThePriestlyCultureinModernFrance,"Catholic His-toricalReview,LVII(1971),
I-20.
Thebest workontheclergyordained betweenI895and1939is thatofJoseph Roge,Lesimplepretre (Paris, 1965).Aneglectedand valuable classicstudyisJosephBrugerette,Lepretrefrancaisetlasocietecontemporaine(Paris,
1933-1938),3v.2
Thecharacter of thisdebate is available inMichael Armer and AllanSchnaiberg,"MeasuringIndividualModernity:AnearMyth,"AmericanSociologicalReview,XXXVII(1972),
301-306;
AlexInkeles,"UnderstandingandMisunderstandingIndividual Mod-ernity,"inLewis A.Coser and OttoLarsen(eds.),TheUsesofControversyinSociology(NewYork,1976).
 
276I
E.T.GARGAN AND R. A.HANNEMAN
ordination. Theintention of this article is toapproachthisques-tion fromtwodirections:the firstbyanexaminationoftheclergy'sviewson thechanges occurringinnineteenth-centurysocietywhichthey perceivedasthreateningto theirfuture;thesecondbya selection of indicators which fit theseconceptions(whatevertheirlimitations)andatestingbycorrelationanalysisoftheirassociation with ordination ratesthroughoutthecentury.At theconjunctureof the nineteenthandtwentiethcenturies,thesubjectivesituationofthe Frenchclergywasmiserable,so-cially, psychologically,andpolitically. Significantly,the nine-teenth-centuryclergywereinmoreagreementthandisagreementwith their critics aboutthegravityoftheirplight.This consensusiswell illustratedinChalendar's collectionoftexts.Chalendarskillfullyexcerptstheparliamentarydebatesof thesetwo crucialdecades oftheThirdRepublicwhen France'sdeputies heatedlydiscussed thepriest's experienceintheseminary,hissuccess andfailureintheparish,hisrelationwith hisbishopandthelaity,hisquestionableeducation,hisrecruitment,hisresponseto a univer-saltheologicalcrisis,and his reaction to financial andpoliticalpressures.Intheseimpassioned exchanges,thedefendersoftheclergy,like theiropponents,did not failto drawblood. Moresignificantthanthe woundsinflictedis thestrikingfactthat thetwopartieswereinaccordontheoriginsoftheclergy'smalaise.3Another sourcebearingwitness tothis collective traumaisprovidedbyRemond's accountofthe ecclesiasticalcongressesof
Reims(1896)andBourges
(I900).4
At the firstofthesecongresses
some700clergymen, followingtheinspirationofAbbeJulesLemire,theChristian Democraticdeputy,met to discusstheircommon condition.Theirexpressionsofanxietyechoed,contin-ued,andextended the discussionsin theChamberastheysearchedforwaystocopewith theirfeelingsofintellectuallimitation,separationfrom theirsociety,andestrangementfromthe schoolsoftheThirdRepublic;withtheir fearof theimpactoftheirserviceinthearmy;andwith the acutestress thattheyencountered whenconfrontingthetheological questionssooftengroupedunder thepejorativecoverofModernism.Courageandhopewerenotab-sentduringtheirtensediscussionsonhow to extract themselves
3XavierdeChalendar(ed.),Lespretresaujournalofficiel,1887-1907(Paris, 1968),
2v.
4ReneRemond,Les deuxcongresecclesiastiquesdeReims etdeBourges,
1896-19oo
(Paris,
I964),
seeesp.178.

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