The Catholic fundamentalists in the shadows of France's far-right

By Nicolas Lebourg

A party of Catholic fundamentalists, Civitas is one of France’s lesser-known far-right movements, overshadowed by the former Front National (now renamed the National Rally) led by Marine Le Pen. It wants to ban abortion, same-sex marriage and freemasonry, to repeal a 1905 law separating the Church and State and also anti-racist legislation, and takes as its model the regimes of General Franco in Spain and General Pinochet in Chile. After years as a pressure group, it officially became a political party in 2016, and this month held its annual summer conference on the theme of “Human rights versus the real country”. Here, historian Nicolas Lebourg traces its history and analyses its future prospects.

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The Catholic fundamentalists of Civitas this month held their summer conference close to Poitiers, in north-west France, a gathering of what they call “the real country”. But just what does this movement, which officially became a political party two years ago after 17 years as a self-described “Catholic traditionalist” pressure group, represent?