XVI-2 - L'opinion publique, sans anathème ni vénération (2011)

Revue des Facultés de Théologie et de Philosophie


Jean-Michel Potin - When the Church rejects following public opinion

Not only is public opinion a piece of political data, it is also to be found when writing history of nations. Thus the year 1848 is considered to be a People's Spring against autocracy and for freedom. Throughout this year, the Church position is particular. At the beginning, favourable to emancipating movements, the Church turned coat during the events. Public opinion reproached this shift strongly, taking up again the accusation of a Church more sensitive to the powerful than to the pauper. Now, the study of three texts (From Pope Pius IX, R.F. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire and from the catholic member of Parliament Donoso Cortès) explains that this about turn is due more to changes in claim themes, even their deviance, than to the will to stay in power.

Stanislas Deprez - Bourdieu and doxy

For Bourdieu, doxy does not only concern opinion. It is fundamental common sense, undisputable in appearance, which structures a society. The basis of social life, doxy inscribes social hierarchies in bodies, considering as natural the vision of the world by prevailing powers. However, it must be stated that society is not monolithic but built of a large number of relatively autonomous fields, even though they are never independent from one another. Some of these fields occupy a dominant position influencing the others. Thus was the case of the philosophical field, which made it possible to justify social order, as is shown in Heidegger's example. Today, it is no more philosophy but the journalistic field which imposes visions of the world. Complying with polls (attendance measurements), journalism puts forward minor incidents, the insignificance of which require explanations by television philosophers, capable of thinking through preconceived ideas.

Jean-Claude Guillebaud - The giddiness of guiltlessness

Modern thinking tends to free man from guilt, a burden which would be of a religious essence and which would prevent us from reaching complete happiness. The dominant discourse from the media systematically puts forward the theme of guiltlessness, shown as a conquest enabled by the fact that our societies have become secular. The point is to go deeper and deeper into that process of guilt removal whether it is about sex, money, individualism, and inequality etc. Directed daily to public opinion, this discourse leads to a representation of evil as external to each of us. Thus present only in the other, the monster, the born criminal, etc. Thus an exterminatory logic is strengthened: the other is to be eliminated and the world will be better. Such madness invites us to a new demanding reading of the Christian - and redeeming - original sin concept.

Laurent Villemin - Public opinion and sensus fidei

First, the paper makes a terminological point on two notions which although they are close may not be intermingled: that of public opinion and that of sensus fidei. Public opinion comes from outside the church sphere and has been submitted to many evolutions. Provided certain points were made, it was accepted by the Church in the end. Sensus fidei is proper to the Church's tradition and designates the capacity received at the time of baptism to accept faith, to live it in a personal way and to decide correctly upon the choices to make in various situations. After a conceptual clarification of these two notions, the paper puts forwards the conditions for a concrete and institutional implementation of those two notions so that the Church keeps more in line with its mission. Juridical dimensions come to open ways for realizations to come.

Nicolas de Bremond d'Ars - For a service of public opinion in Catholicism

Within the western sphere (Europe and North America), government could not operate without taking public opinion into account. Familiar with all discourses, however, the latter does not constitute one relevant sociological subject. In fact it implies the existence of a public actor, constituted by the addition of individual voices, and who would be the interlocutor of classes in power. According to Bourdieu, public opinion is a social artifact. On the contrary, the existence of opinion movements in Africa and Middle East show that collective indignation results in political actions. And any citizen cannot face that the catholic sphere does not integrate this dimension. The cases around clerical pedophilia, together with other protests make this clear. The Church has not failed to develop means in order to structure public expression all along the course of its history. This is demonstrated by synodality as restored by Vatican II, notwithstanding its limits. Thus a new institutional set up remains to be built. By deriving from Biblical references, as Ac 6,1-7, one sees new possibilities taking form for the decades to come.