Is There a Specific Ambivalence of the Sacred? Illustrations from the Apparition of Medjugorie and the Movement of Sant’Egidio

Chiara de Franco, Mariano Barbato, Brigitte LeNormand

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

In the debate about the return of religion in politics, religious actors and discourses are viewed with a certain concern. Whereas some defend the peaceful effects of religion, most contributions understand religious truth claims as a challenge to democratic pluralism that presents a tendency toward violence. At best, the debate is summarised by Appleby's argument about the ambivalence of the sacred. We argue that this ambivalence is not specific to religious claims but inherent to all public claims about best solutions and fundamental questions in politics. The problem is not the claim of direct access to God's will and His truth, but the political use that different actors make of that claim, as it could be equally directed either to enforce peace or to escalate a conflict, like any secular discourse. Two empirical cases will be analysed where representatives of a monotheistic religion make strong religious truth claims contributing to peace-building and reconciliation during conflicts where religion was an important dimension: the apparitions of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the movement of Sant'Egidio in Algeria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitics, Religion & Ideology
Volume13
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)53-73
ISSN2156-7689
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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