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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: February 2015

6 - Catholic and Orthodox negotiations with modernity


Syllabus of the principal errors of our time

1. There exists no Supreme, all-wise, all-provident Divine Being, distinct from the universe …

15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true …

24. The church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect …

44. The civil authority may interfere in matters relating to religion, morality and spiritual government …

77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship …

80. The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism and modern civilisation.

Simply by dissolving the unity of Christianity, the Reformation had a profound effect on the Catholic church. It was not that post-Reformation Christians were left with choice of religious affiliation, for in most cases their faith would still be determined by the society and family into which they were born. But after the Reformation, Europeans were no longer simply born ‘Christian’. However dim and distant the threat of Protestantism might seem to, say, an Italian peasant, he would now be aware that he possessed a ‘Catholic’ identity that set him apart from some other so-called Christians north of the Alps.

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An Introduction to Christianity
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Further reading
Catholic reformation, confessionalisation and mission
Michael Mullett's The Catholic Reformation (London and New York: Routledge, 1999) offers a comprehensive introduction to Trent, its antecedents and its aftermath. See also H. O. Evennett, The Spirit of the Counter-Reformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968). There is an excellent short introduction to Catholic reformation by Elisabeth G. Gleason in Thomas A. Brady et al. (eds.), Handbook of European History 1400–1600 I (Leiden and New York: Brill, 1995). Hubert Jedin is the most influential interpreter of Trent. Many of his works are in French, but see Hubert Jedin and John Dolan (eds.), History of the Church V: Reformation and Counter Reformation (New York: Seabury, 1980)
Jean Delumeau's Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire (London: Burns and Oates, 1977) offers an influential account of the development of post-Reformation Catholicism in France, and of early modern Catholic mission activities. John Bossy's Christianity in the West 1400–1700 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1985) offers a rich portrait of popular late medieval Catholicism and a less sympathetic account of the impact of Reformation. See also Louis Châtellier, The Europe of the Devout: The Catholic Reformation and the Formation of a New Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
There is very little on early Catholic mission in English, besides mission histories that offer minutely detailed narratives of key events and individuals but little social analysis. There are some books that shed light on particular missions, however, such as Jacques Gernet's China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985). See also A. D. Wright, The Counter-Reformation: Catholic Europe and the Non-Christian World (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1982). Felipe Fernández-Armesto and Derek Wilson's Reformation: Christianity and the World 1500–2000 (London: Bantam, 1996) is an insightful popular account that draws attention to the similarities between post-Reformation Protestantism and Catholicism
The church, absolutism and revolution
John McManners's The French Revolution and the Church (London: SPCK, 1969) offers a clear historical account. A more sociological approach can be found in Ralph Gibson, A Social History of French Catholicism 1789–1914 (London and New York: Routledge, 1989). On the modern papacy see K. O. von Aretin, The Papacy and the Modern World (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970); Paolo Prodi, The Papal Prince: One Body and Two Souls: The Papal Monarchy in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); and Owen Chadwick, The Popes and European Revolution (Oxford: Clarendon; New York: Oxford University Press, 1981)
Fortress Catholicism and liberal Catholicism
Jonathan Sperber's Popular Catholicism in Nineteenth Century Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984) offers a portrait of fortress Catholicism on the ground. See also Mary Heimann, Catholic Devotion in Victorian England (Oxford: Clarendon; New York: Oxford University Press, 1995). The history of American Catholicism is told in Jay P. Dolan's The American Catholic Experience (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992). Karen Kennelly (ed.), American Catholic Women: A Historical Exploration (New York: Macmillan; London: Collier Macmillan, 1989) is a useful collection, and I have drawn on the excellent chapter on ‘Catholic Domesticity, 1860 to 1960’ by Colleen McDannell
On liberal theology see Bernard Reardon, Liberalism and Tradition: Aspects of Catholic Thought in Nineteenth-Century France (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1975); and Alex Vidler, A Century of Social Catholicism 1820–1920 (London: SPCK, 1964) and A Variety of Catholic Modernists (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970). On Catholic social teaching and political Catholicism, see M. P. Fogarty, Christian Democracy in Western Europe, 1820–1953 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1957)
The Catholic Encyclopaedia is a useful general resource, and it is interesting to compare the current edition with earlier editions in order to see how significant the changes in Catholicism's self-presentation have been over the last century. The papal encyclicals can be found on the web at <>
Philip Walters offers a clear and helpful survey of Orthodoxy since 1453 in Adrian Hastings (ed.), A World History of Christianity (London: Cassell, 1999). Steven Runciman's The Orthodox Churches and the Secular State (Auckland: Auckland University Press; London: Oxford University Press, 1971) is an accessible short history of Orthodoxy in relation to secular power
On the recent history of the Russian Orthodox church see Jane Ellis, The Russian Orthodox Church: A Contemporary History (London: Croom Helm, 1986); and Nathaniel Davis, A Long Walk to Church (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995). On the churches of Russia and eastern Europe under communist control see Sabrina P. Ramet's Nihil Obstat: Religion, Politics and Social Change in East-Central Europe and Russia (Durham, NC, and London: Duke University Press, 1998)
The history of Russian theology and spirituality is addressed in Georges Florovsky's Ways of Russian Theology in The Collected Works of Georges Florovsky (Belmont, MA: Nordland, 1979)