Above: Stamp Featuring the Image of Marc Sangnier
Image in the Public Domain
MARC SANGNIER (APRIL 3, 1873-MAY 28, 1950)
Founder of the Sillon Movement
Sangnier, born at Paris, France, on April 3, 1873, came from a wealthy family. Our saint learned the lesson that God expects much of he who has received much. Sangnier, from an early age, had a deep concern for social justice in the light of Roman Catholic social teaching. Of particular concern to him were the conditions of members of the working class. Sangnier, as a student, organized a small group of like-minded people to study and ponder these moral concerns. Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum (1891), regarding capital and labor, provided encouragement.
Sangnier became a force in public life in his twenties and continued his activism afterward. In 1894 he founded Le Sillon (The Furrow), a newspaper devoted to the effort to reconcile Roman Catholicism, social justice, and democracy. The newspaper led to the Sillon Movement, which attracted many idealistic youth and established study centers for workers in French cities in the 1890s. Pope St. Pius X was initially supportive of the movement. In 1905 Sangnier founded a second publication, L’Esprit democratique, devoted to promoting democracy. The Sillon Movement had become more political than it had been. St. Pius X changed his opinion of the movement. Did democracy threaten divine authority? Was possibly seeking to introduce democracy into the Roman Catholic Church heretical? Therefore the Supreme Pontiff condemned the Sillon Movement in a letter dated August 25, 1910.
Sangnier, a loyal Roman Catholic, disbanded the Sillon Movement rather than leave the Church or oppose the Vatican. The movement did, however, have a number of alumni who continued to promote social activism in the Church. Sangnier chose to channel his activism in the arena of politics. In 1912 he founded the Young Republic League, a socialist political party.
He died, aged 77 years, in Paris on May 28, 1950.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
FEBRUARY 24, 2017 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT MATTHIAS THE APOSTLE, MARTYR
O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,
and to give his life for the life of the world.
Lead us by his love to serve all those whom the world offers no comfort and little help.
Through us give hope to the hopeless,
love to the unloved,
peace to the troubled,
and rest to the weary,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen.
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60