The early catechetical renewal in France and its influence in the teaching of religion
Experience of teaching in France in the late 1950s led to an awareness of excellent methods and resources for religious education. This in turn led to a study of the French catechetical renewal movement. While it became evident that the main movement was led by Fr Joseph Colomb in the years immediately following the Second World War, it was soon apparent that the roots extended much further back in time. The present work is concerned with tracing the roots of the early catechetical renewal, set against the background of the early twentieth century. The influence on it of movements such as Modernism, and of the new educational ideas, are considered as well as others from abroad such as the Munich Movement. The effect of the call for a more gospel based approach in the teaching of religion by Bishop Landrieux of Dijon in 1922 and a moving away from the Catechism is discussed. Among the key figures who emerged in the years between the two world wars were Mme Marie Fargues and Mlle Francoise Derkenne, also Fr André Boyer and Fr Charles Quinet. Their creative activity was particularly intense in the 1930s. Their influence, traced in many instances through unpublished correspondence, is shown to be considerable, not only in France but in the wider international sphere. In particular, there is evidence that their change of approach to the concept of religious education as opposed to that of religious instruction came about sooner in France than elsewhere. It is also suggested that the remarkable tenacity of some of the pioneers in the face of considerable opposition may have helped to bring about the changed attitude to the laity, particularly to women, in certain branches of the Christian Church.