Philosophers Back Beatification of Emmanuel Mounier

Frenchman Edited a Review Banned During Nazi Occupation

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ROME, JAN. 16, 2005 ( The French philosopher Emmanuel Mounier was «a profound Christian, profoundly rooted in the Church,» says Cardinal Paul Poupard.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture made that assessment at an international congress dedicated to Mounier, held at Rome’s Salesian University.

The cardinal said: «Given a society that is collapsing, it is urgent to find the spiritual as opposed to spiritualism, tradition as opposed to traditionalism, faith as opposed to fideism, morality as opposed to moralism — in a word, the genuine order as opposed to the established disorder.»

More than 550 people from around the world participated in the congress, entitled «The Person and Relational Humanism, Legacy and Challenges of Mounier.» It closed Friday.

At the end of the congress, the participants wrote a petition requesting the introduction of the cause of beatification of Mounier (1905-1950).

«We are convinced that an eventual recognition of the heroism of the virtues of Mounier by the Church, in God’s time, will be a particularly precious stimulus for the exercise of a lay holiness in the light of the message of the incarnation and resurrection of the Lord,» said the participants, most of them philosophers.

A message was also addressed to John Paul II in which the participants said that with this congress they received «the gift to go further into the many-sided personality of this philosopher and prophet of our time.»

In 1932, Mounier, a professor of philosophy, founded the review Esprit, bringing together some of the most brilliant Christian intellectuals of his age.

Mounier’s philosophy is based on the greatness of and respect due to the human person, the reason why his philosophy was called «personalism.» For him, there cannot be a Christian conscience without engagement in the «battle» of ideas and challenges that affect people and society.

Esprit was banned in France by the Vichy government during the Nazi occupation in World War II, and Mounier was taken prisoner. After the war, the review resumed its course and grew in influence. Mounier died prematurely at 45.

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