Peddicord on Maritain, Garrigou-Lagrange, Pétain and Vichy

And, in a letter of 18 December 1946, Maritain continued:

When you took the part of Marshal Pétain — to the point of declaring that to support de Gaulle would be a mortal sin — I thought that your political prejudices blinded you in a serious matter for the country; I did not think to suspect your theology nor to reproach you for a deviation in a doctrinal matter.

Garrigou and Maritain would not be able to get beyond the rupture caused by this episode. It turned out to be a wound that would not heal. Both men were passionate in defense of their positions and strong emotions had to co-mingle with reason and faith. From our vantage point it is impossible not to conclude that in this matter Garrigou was in the wrong: wrong in supporting Vichy and wrong in avoiding reconciliation with a long-time friend.

Before leaving this discussion, an issue raised by Maritain’s letter of 18 December 1946 bears highlighting. Maritain said that in disagreeing with Garrigou, he had not thereby called into question Garrigou’s theology. Nor had he reneged on his commitment to Thomism. His point was that one’s theological commitments do not lead inexorably to specific choices in the real world of contingency. This is important to underline because one might be tempted to think that Garrigou’s support for Action Française or Francisco Franco or Marshal Pétain is enough to show that his theology was corrupt. Even though Garrigou would attempt to justify his positions by appealing to the faith, it is safe to say that they rested upon his personal socio-political presuppositions.

Richard Peddiord, O.P.
The Sacred Monster of Thomism: An Introduction to the Life and Legacy of Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P.
St Augustine’s Press
South Bend, Indiana
pages 99-100
[Note: does “wrong in supporting Vichy” imply wrong in supporting the
deportation of the Jews from France?  See ]


Editor’s comment: I do not like the name of Francisco Franco mentioned, as above, in the same breath as Marshal Pétain or Action Française. Franco is credited with saving between 40,000 and 75,000 Jews, many of whom were from Germany, and others from Vichy France, Germany and Hungary. Even if they lied and said they had “one drop” of Sephardic blood, they were welcome in Franco’s war-torn Spain. This little known fact is inconvenient for some who routinely demonize Franco, and so it is not mentioned. See Hitler Stopped by Franco by Jane and Burt Boyar (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012). Paul Preston’s standard biography of Franco omits this information.


From Hitler Stopped by Franco, page 104:

“In 1927, as Colonel in Morocco, observing the Arabs persecuting the descendants of those Jews who had immigrated there four centuries earlier, Franco had written to the dictator of Spain, General Primo de Rivera, seeking and receiving permission to protect them with Spanish troops. Nine years later, in 1936, at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the Moroccan Jewish community demonstrated its gratitude by coming to Franco’s aid with strong financial backing.”


From Francisco Franco: The Jewish Connection by Harry S. May (1977), page 29:

“Since the end of World War II, Jewish and non-Jewish historians have estimated, in a truly inflationary binge, that Franco did save by this incredible ruse from fifty to one hundred thousand Jews. Or more. But we know that over thirty thousand Jews crossed the Pyrenees, often in the bitter cold of winter, and were let through by the border guards who had been instructed to close their eyes as to the refugees’ true ethnic, i.e. Sephardi origin. We have to keep in mind, though, that Spain found herself in the throes of a severe bread and food shortage, yet she allowed the hapless to escape the Nazi version of the Limpieza de Sangre. And more than ten thousand others who had escaped the death camps, found shelter, however temporary, in the Iberian Peninsula.”



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