Until 1875 the relationship between French Catholics and Baptists –the latter a tiny Protestant minority– was marked by great mutual mistrust. The establishment of the Third Republic changed the situation. The interconfessional conflict gradually lost its intensity (I), as illustrated by the comments of Pastor Farelly, who praised “the genuine piety” displayed by many in spite of what he perceived to be a Catholic doctrinal “mess”.
French Baptists took advantage of this new climate of freedom and pacification. The time had come for Christian actors to reposition themselves in order to face the growing impact of secularization on institutions and consciences together. Once enemies, Baptists and Catholics now mutually rediscovered each other as Christians first, and even as “brothers and sisters”, despite a strong remaining mistrust (II). This convergence between contemporary Catholicism and evangelical revivalism (III) was noted by the Catholic theologian Louis Bouyer in particular. It seemed to announce, in the late 1950s, the gradual shift to a new ecumenical paradigm.