Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church

James Chappel. Harvard Univ., $35 (343p) ISBN 978-0-674-97210-0
Chappel skillfully explores how, why, and when the Catholic church became modern. To tackle this massive topic, Chappel breaks the book into six chronologically organized periods and begins with the argument that the Catholic church at the dawn of the 20th century was far from modern; rather, it actively fought the forces of modernity. As the church begins to relent to external pressures for reform after World War I, Chappel identifies two strands of Catholic thought—paternal (family-oriented) and fraternal (community-oriented) Catholic modernism—as the major threads that served to bring the church through World War II. However, he spends almost no time unpacking the term modernism and what it means to the church, and instead focuses on political engagement. He handles this complexity of the topic admirably, narrowing his scope to Europe and selecting key figures (Bavarian monk Georg Moenius and German philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, in particular) around whom to center the argument. This detailed but narrow volume will be of interest to academic readers interested in understanding the reformation of the Catholic church in the mid-20th century. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/29/2018
Release date: 01/22/2018
Genre: Religion
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