In politics, integralism or integrism (French: intégrisme) is the set of 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. Some forms of integralism are focused on achieving political and social integration, and also national or ethnic unity, while others were more focused on achieving religious and cultural uniformity. In the political and social history of the 19th and 20th centuries, integralism was often related to traditionalist conservatism and similar political movements on the right wing of a political spectrum, but it was also adopted by various centrist movements as a tool of political, national and cultural integration.[1]

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.[2]

Contemporary discussions of integralism were renewed in 2014, with critiques of capitalism and liberalism.[3][4] The term has also been used[5] to describe non-Catholic religious movements, such as Protestant fundamentalism or Islamism.

Catholic integralismEdit

Catholic integralism (also called integrism) 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.[6]

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.[2]

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. However, Catholic integralism in the strict sense came about as a reaction against the political and cultural changes that followed the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.[7] 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, become popular till the time of Pope 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 words intégrisme (integrism) and intégralisme (integralism) were derived.[8] 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.[9]

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 Catholic 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.[10] 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 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.[11][12] 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".[13][14]

French integralismEdit

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 integralismEdit

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.[15]

Brazilian integralismEdit

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 integralismEdit

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.


Association with fascismEdit

Critics and opponents of integralism argue that the movement can be associated with fascism 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.[16]

Religious liberty issuesEdit

John Zmirak criticizes contemporary Catholic integralists as enemies of "religious liberty".[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jensen 2005, p. 157-171.
  2. ^ a b Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism?
  3. ^ "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.
  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. ^ Shepard, William (1 October 1987). "'Fundamentalism' Christian and Islamic". Religion. 17 (4): 355–378. doi:10.1016/0048-721X(87)90059-5. ISSN 0048-721X. Patrick J. Ryan has suggested the term 'integralism' for the Iranian phenomena, by analogy with the Roman Catholic movement by that name and largely because of the role of the 'ulamã' ('Islamic Fundamentalism: a Questionable Category', America, December 29, 1984, pp . 437-440), and this suggestion has some merit.
  6. ^ 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?
  7. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 125
  8. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? page 124
  9. ^ Krogt, Christopher van der. Catholic Fundamentalism or Catholic Integralism? pages 124–125
  10. ^ Douthat, Ross (8 October 2016). Among the Post-Liberals. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2017
  11. ^ Spadaro, Antonio; Figueroa, Marcelo (2017). "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism". La Civiltà Cattolica. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  12. ^ Glatz, Carol (13 July 2017). "Journal: Strip religious garb, fundamentalist tones from political power". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  13. ^ McElwee, Joshua J. (13 July 2017). "Italian Jesuit magazine criticizes political attitudes of some US Catholics". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  14. ^ Faggioli, Massimo (18 July 2017). "Why Should We Read Spadaro on 'Catholic Integralism'?". Commonweal. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  15. ^ Kallis, Aristotle A. Fascism Reader, p. 313-317 2003 Routledge
  16. ^ Payne, Stanley A History of Fascism, 1914–1945, Routledge 1996.
  17. ^ Zmirak, John (5 August 2017). "Catholics Reject Freedom at Their Own Peril". The Stream. Retrieved 12 April 2017.