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Integralism or Integrism (French: Intégrisme) as a political term designates theoretical concepts and practical policies that advocate a fully integrated social and political order, based on converging patrimonial (inherited) political, cultural, religious and national traditions of a particular state, or some other political entity. In the 20th century political history, integralism was often related to traditionalist conservatism and similar political movements on the right wing of a political spectrum. However, contemporary discussions of integralism, beginning in 2014,[1] often involve anti-capitalist or "Aristotlean Marxist"[2] critiques.[3][4]

As a traditionalist political movement, integralism emerged during the 19th and early 20th century polemics within the Catholic Church, especially in France, The term was used as an epithet to describe those who opposed the "modernists", who had sought to create a synthesis between Christian theology and the liberal philosophy of secular modernity. Proponents of Catholic political integralism taught that all social and political action ought to be based on the Catholic Faith. They rejected the separation of church and state, arguing that Catholicism should be the proclaimed religion of the state.[5]

Catholic integralism[edit]

Catholic integralism (also called integrism) is used in the context of Catholicism to refer to an organization of the state which rejects "the separation of politics from concern with the end of human life, holding that political rule must order man to his final goal."[6] Though less commonly referred to in modern theology, integralism defines the social order of medieval Christendom and is part of the social teaching of the Catholic Church.[7] It is an "anti-pluralist" trend in Catholicism; the Catholic integralism born in 19th-century Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Romania was a movement that sought to assert a Catholic underpinning to all social and political action, and to minimize or eliminate any competing ideological actors, such as secular humanism and liberalism.[8]

Catholic integralism does not support the creation of an autonomous "Catholic" state church, or Erastianism (Gallicanism in French context). Rather it supports subordinating the state to the moral principles of Catholicism. Thus it rejects separating morality from the state and favours Catholicism as the proclaimed religion of the state.[9]

Catholic integralism appeals to the teaching on the necessity of the subordination of the state and on the subordination of temporal to spiritual power of medieval popes such as Pope Gregory VII and Pope Boniface VIII. But Catholic Integralism in the strict sense came about as a reaction against the political and cultural changes which followed the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.[10] The 19th-century papacy challenged the growth of liberalism (with its doctrine of popular sovereignty) as well as new scientific and historical methods and theories (which were thought to threaten the special status of the Christian revelation). Pope Pius IX condemned a list of liberal and Enlightenment ideas in his Syllabus of Errors. The term integralism was applied to a Spanish political party founded about 1890, which based its programme on the "Syllabus". Catholic integralism reached its "classical" form in the reaction against modernism. The term did not, however, became popular till the time of Pope St. Pius X, whose papacy lasted from 1903 to 1914. After the papal condemnation of modernism in 1907, "integral Catholics" (French: Catholiques intégraux, from which the word intégrisme (Integrism) and intégralisme (Integralism) were derived.[11] Encouraged by Pope Pius X, they sought out and exposed any co-religionist whom they suspected of modernism or liberalism. An important integralist organization was the Sodalitium Pianum, known in France as La Sapinière (fir plantation), which was founded in 1909 by Umberto Benigni.[12]

Catholic integralism suffered a decline after the Second Vatican Council, due to a lack of support from the Catholic hierarchy; during that time, other ideas had been proposed about the relation between the church and state. However, even the Second Vatican Council finally sided with the integralist understanding in some ways, stating in Dignitatis humanae that the council "leaves intact the traditional teaching of the duty which the state owes to the Church", namely, recognition of the church as the state religion, unless it would be a detriment to the common good. However, the document also affirmed personal freedom of conscience and freedom from coercion, and in the heyday after the council this became the focus of theological discourse, to the exclusion of the traditional teaching on church–state relations. In the post-conciliar period, Catholic integralism came to be supported mainly by traditionalist Catholics such as those associated with the Society of St. Pius X and various lay Catholics organizations, though some clergy still supported it in theory, if not vociferously.

In recent years, however, a "revived Catholic integralism" has been noted among the younger generation of Catholics writing for websites such as The Josias.[13] Integralism could be said to merely be the modern continuation of the traditional Catholic conception of church–state relations elucidated by Pope Gelasius I and expounded upon throughout the centuries up to the Syllabus of Errors, which definitively condemned the idea that the separation of church and state is a moral good.

Scholars have drawn parallels between Catholic integralism and a view held by a minority in the Reformed churches, Christian reconstructionism.[14][15] In the National Catholic Reporter, Joshua J. McElwee stated that both Catholic integralists and Reformed Christian reconstructionists have created a non-traditional ecumenical alliance to achieve the goal of establishing a "theocratic type of state".[16][17]

Other religious uses[edit]

The term has also been borrowed in some cultures to describe elements within non-Catholic religious movements who are also opposed to the radical end of Western liberalism, such as Protestant fundamentalism or Islamism.

French integralism[edit]

The term "integrism" is largely used in French philosophical and sociopolitical parlance, particularly to label any religious extremism. Integralism is particularly associated with the French Action Française movement founded by Charles Maurras.

Portuguese integralism[edit]

Integralismo Lusitano (Lusitanian Integralism) was the integralist movement of Portugal, founded in 1914. Portuguese integralism was traditionalist, but not conservative. It was against parliamentarism and, instead, it favored decentralization, national syndicalism, Catholicism and the monarchy.[18]

Brazilian integralism[edit]

Gustavo Barroso, prominent leader of Brazilian integralism, wearing a integralist uniform (1933)

Somewhat rooted in the Portuguese integralist tradition, the Brazilian integralist movement led by Plínio Salgado – Ação Integralista Brasileira – was for some time the largest political party ever[citation needed] founded in Brazil, with over a million members, even though it lasted less than six years as a legally recognized organization.

Spanish integralism[edit]

The political implications of Catholic integralism are apparent in the Basque-Navarrese context of Spain, where that Integrism or Traditionalist Catholicism refers to a 19th- and 20th-century anti-Liberal movement advocating for the re-establishment of not only clerical but also native institutions lost in the context of the First Carlist War (1839, 1841). One of its branches evolved by the turn of the 20th century into Basque nationalism.

The term may also refer to the Spanish formation (1888-1932) led by Ramon Nocedal and Juan Olazábal.

Italian integralism[edit]

Romanian integralism[edit]



The Southern Poverty Law Center uses the term "integrism" to refer to traditional Catholics who disagree with Rome, many of them having been excommunicated by Rome. The SPLC identifies two groups "'traditionalists' — people who prefer the old Latin Mass to the Mass now typically said in vernacular languages" and "'Radical traditionalist' Catholics, who may make up the largest single group of serious counter-Semites in America". It is only the latter group that the SPLC views as a "hate group."[19]

Association with fascism[edit]

Critics and opponents of integralism argue that the movement can be associated with fascism (especially in South America), although there exist deep points of disagreement: integralism stresses trade unionism and localism while fascism defends a centralist state; the traditionalist and Catholic foundation of integralist ideas against the often secular and anti-clerical, and modernist philosophical basis of fascism.[20]

Religious liberty issues[edit]

Some liberal Catholics such as John Zmirak have criticized contemporary Catholic integralists as enemies of "religious liberty".[21] However, others assert that this paints a false picture of integralism.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "On the one [fusionist] side one finds an older American tradition of orthodox Catholicism as it has developed in the nation since the mid-twentieth century... On the other [integralist] side is arrayed what might be characterized as a more radical Catholicism."A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching Deneen, Patrick. "A Catholic Showdown Worth Watching," The American Conservative, 6 Feb 2014.
  2. ^ "The most fundamental insight of Marxian economics is the distinction between use value and exchange value, and the most basic Marxian critique of capitalism is that it subordinates the former to the later. But in so-called ‘feudal society’ such a subordination had not taken place." Use Values and Corn Laws, Aristotelian Marxists and High Tories Waldstein, Edmund, O'Cist. Sancrucensis, 12 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Nevertheless, Marx was right to point out that the development of technological civilization poses a grave problem for any attempt at reactionary restoration. There is a kind ratchet effect to modern technological developments that render many restorationist projects unrealistic. Hence the attempt of many reactionary socialists to develop new models of society inspired by medieval Christendom, but modified to try to deal with the effects of technological development. Such projects must begin with an understanding of our existing society, and I think that David Pederson has made a good case for the usefulness of Marx’s analysis in understanding technological civilization in order better to combat it." Tradinista Waldstein, Edmund, O'Cist. Sancrucensis, 1 Oct 2016.
  4. ^ "Mena said that some of these young traditionalists are actually more at home under Francis than John Paul II and Benedict XVI, precisely because his critique of capitalism and the whole liberal order strikes them as more sweeping than the previous two pontiffs." Weird Catholic Twitter Offers a Reminder of Catholic Complexity Allen, John, Jr. Crux, 27 Apr 2018.
  5. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism?
  6. ^ Waldstein, Pater Edmund. Integralism in Three Sentences
  7. ^ Waldstein, Edmund (3 March 2016). "Integralism and Gelasian Dyarchy". The Josias. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ Kertzer, David I. Comrades and Christians: religion and political struggle in Communist Italy. 1980, page 101-2; Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism?
  9. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism?
  10. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 125
  11. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 124
  12. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? pages 124–125
  13. ^ Douthat, Ross (8 October 2016). Among the Post-Liberals. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2017
  14. ^ Spadaro, Antonio; Figueroa, Marcelo (2017). "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism". La Civiltà Cattolica. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  15. ^ Glatz, Carol (13 July 2017). "Journal: Strip religious garb, fundamentalist tones from political power". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  16. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (13 July 2017). "Italian Jesuit magazine criticizes political attitudes of some US Catholics". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  17. ^ Faggioli, Massimo (18 July 2017). "Why Should We Read Spadaro on 'Catholic Integralism'?". Commonweal. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  18. ^ Kallis, Aristotle A. Fascism Reader, p. 313-317 2003 Routledge
  19. ^ "Active Radical Traditional Catholicism Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center.
  20. ^ Payne, Stanley A History of Fascism, 1914–1945, Routledge 1996.
  21. ^ Zmirak, John (5 August 2017). "Catholics Reject Freedom at Their Own Peril". The Stream. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  22. ^ Sanchez, Gabriel (11 February 2015). "Some Clarifications on Catholic Integralism". Opus Publicum. Retrieved 12 April 2017.