Catholics embraced postwar reconstruction—at home and in the empire—as an opportunity to build “the city that is to come.” A concept aligned with Interwar French personalism united Catholics who confronted the city as more than a metaphor: épanouissement or individual blossoming. Form followed function and good homes and communities were the foundation for the fullest expression of personal abilities and “natural” gendered vocations. This radical vision superseded charity and operated on the margins of the traditional parliamentary left and Roman ecclesiastical authority. Activists’ zeal was to realize communities where the bourgeois ideal of “having” yielded to Catholic “being” in communion with others. L’Arche movement formed urban micro-socities in care homes and rural eco-villages that shared this broader Catholic commitment to enabling intellectually disabled people to flourish. The conservative Catholic Vanier argued that a Christian urban citizenship prioritized care and interdependence before possession and self-autonomy. This paper contextualizes L’Arche movement as it places L’Arche communities and disability history into dialogue with urban history.
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