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Commmunio Ecclesiology and the World: Ecumenical Intimations of Joseph de Maistre's Du Pape

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Anglo-American communio ecclesiology — especially as represented by David Schindler — often emphasizes the dangers of Christian engagement with the Western social, political and cultural order. As a result, it specifies no modes of ecclesial rapport to the secular world, or of ecumenical reintegration. This paper rereads Joseph de Maistre's masterpiece Du Pape (1819) in its historical intellectual context, revealing Maistre as an ancestor of communio who was far more open to the possibility of ecclesiastical interaction with socio-political realities. The argument illuminates Du Pape's ideal of ecumenism through freedom, and describes the book's propositions for the realization of this ideal. Devoting special attention to the Maistrian rendering of European constitutional history, the analysis also assesses Du Pape's relevance to problems in contemporary ecclesiology. It suggests, in particular, how the Church as a spiritual government might further ecumenical unity without countering the theocentric premises of communio theology, or violating the divinity of the Christian mission.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of History, West Road, Cambridge, UK, Email:


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