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Integrism (French: Intégrisme) is a term coined in 19th and early 20th century polemics within the Catholic Church, especially in France, 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. Integrism is often referred to as Catholic Integralism.

Integrists 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.[1]


Many of the positions of integrism on the necessity of the subordination of the state to the Church go back to the teachings of medieval popes such as Pope Gregory VII and Pope Boniface VIII. But Integrism in the strict sense came about as a reaction against the political and cultural changes which followed the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.[2] The nineteenth 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 Integrism did not, however, became popular till the time of Pope St. Pius X, whose papacy lasted from 1903 to 1914. Supporters of Pius X's encyclical Pascendi dominici gregis, which condemned Modernism, called themselves Catholiques intégraux (integral Catholics), from which the word intégrisme (Integrism) and intégralisme (Integralism) were derived.[3]

One of the most important integrist organizations was the Sodalitium Pianum, known in France as La Sapinière (fir plantation), which was founded in 1909 by Umberto Benigni.[4]

Integrists were originally ultramontane. But since the Second Vatican Council this has caused tensions within Integrism since the post-conciliar popes no longer support Integrism. “Apart from the practical difficulties of bringing their ideals to fruition without hierarchical support, contemporary [integrists] face the problem of advocating for a maximal stance toward papal and hierarchical authority at a time when they are in tension with, if not outright opposition to, the pastoral and theological lines of that very authority.”[5] This led some integrists, such as Marcel Lefebvre, to oppose the post-conciliar popes.

As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has noted, among the "younger generation" of Catholics there has recently been a revived interest in integrism, manifested in websites such as The Josias.[6]


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 anti-Semites in America". It is only the latter group that the SPLC views as a hate group.[7]

Other Uses of the Term[edit]

The term "integrism" is largely used in French philosophical and sociopolitical parlance, particularly to label any religious extremism.

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

The term Traditionalist Catholic has become more prominent in recent times and is generally the most common term used in the English-speaking world to describe anti-modernist elements. These political implications 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 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism?
  2. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 125
  3. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 124
  4. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? pages 124-125
  5. ^ Shadle, Matthew A. The Paradoxes of Postmodern Integralism.
  6. ^ Douthat, Ross (October 8, 2016). Among the Post-Liberals. New York Times. Retrieved July 16, 2017
  7. ^ "Active Radical Traditional Catholicism Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center.