Rorate Caeli

The Return of the “Fundamentalists”

Henri Tincq, specialist in religious issues who has just published "Catholicism: The return of the fundamentalists” analyzes the misunderstandings between the fundamentalists and Benedict XVI. The following is an interview with Monsieur Tincq which appears in the Sunday edition of Le Parisien :

Where do the fundamentalists come from?

The vast majority of the faithful are those nostalgic for the Church before 1965 and especially the Latin Mass. However, the leaders of the movement are priests and lay people who are much more arrogant and who often belong to the extreme right. Sociologically, they consist mainly of large families of aristocratic and bourgeois tradition who are very committed to the moral order and the Catholic tradition. But it is not exclusive - they also recruit from the mainstream.

Are we witnessing their great return?

We can not speak of a mass return, but the noise they make is inversely proportional to their numbers. There are 150,000 fundamentalists in the world including 25,000 to 35,000 in France. It is but a speck of dust in comparison to one billion Catholics! Yet this minority occupies more and more space in people's minds because we have a pope who encourages the return to a strong Catholic identity. As far as that goes, they have a growing influence at the Vatican. This is reflected in the liturgy, in particular the return to the Latin Mass.

Is this phenomenon related to Benedict XVI?

Yes, insofar as he is very traditional when it comes to dogma and liturgy. The fundamentalists consider him to be their pope. This leads to a double illusion. That of Benedict XVI, who believes that by continuing to make gestures towards them, they will return to the bosom of the Church and accept the reforms which have been under way for the past forty years. The illusion of the fundamentalists is the hope that this pope will put an end to the achievements of the Second Vatican Council. But the pope has shown in Jerusalem this past May, his commitment to dialogue with other religions, reviled by the fundamentalists.

(Note: Fundamentalist is the truest translation of the French term intégriste which is considered pejorative and which the French media regularly apply to traditional Catholics - Mornac)