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Tue Jun 28, 2016, 07:42 AM


Revisiting the The Catholic Enlightenment

Ulrich L. Lehner's new book on a mostly forgotten and misunderstood era reveals how much the post-Vatican II era resembles the post-Tridentine era.

June 27, 2016
Dr. Leroy Huizenga

It’s not just an era of change, but a change of eras. The world is moving fast, and the Church struggles to keep up, with many churchmen questioning whether she ought to try to keep up at all while others readily put their foot on the Barque of Peter’s throttle. Meanwhile, mighty tensions exist between the Pope in Rome and bishops and clergy in their dioceses, and estrangement exists between Catholics in Europe (especially Italy) and Catholics in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, with experiences in mission territories raising piercing questions about old orthodoxies. Some clergy remain rigidly rigorist, rejecting a Council as a modern overthrow of Catholicism, while others seem scandalously lax—especially in German-speaking regions, whose bishops and clergy seem all too eager to reduce the Church to an agency of the State in an age when many states wish to crush religion or make it their tool. The question of women’s places and roles in Church and society is raging.

Change is happening fast, and the church is split on just how much to accommodate to the realities of the mores, ethos, and learning of the contemporary world.

It’s the 60s and 70s, obviously. The 1760s and 1770s. Or the 1660s and 1670s. Or the 1860s and 1870s.

As Ulrich L. Lehner’s The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement demonstrates, much of the turmoil Catholics today associate with the revolutions of the 1960s and the Second Vatican Council was already roiling the Church for centuries. One might see Vatican II, then, as the result, not the cause, of ferment and change in Church and society going back to the sixteenth century. While mentioning Vatican II several times, Lehner doesn’t discuss it at length—it seems he’s saved the connections between Enlightenment history and the Second Vatican Council for a new book out July 1, On the Road to Vatican II: German Catholic Enlightenment and the Reform of the Church. Nevertheless, the first thing that immediately strikes the reader unacquainted with the true history of the Church’s interaction with the Enlightenment—and Lehner assumes that’s most everyone, including his fellow academics—is that the Church from Trent to the 1960s was not a perfect, monolithic institution faithful to Pope and magisterium, but has been wrestling with change since the challenges Trent itself addressed first emerged.


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rug Jun 2016 OP
rpannier Jun 2016 #1
rug Jun 2016 #2

Response to rug (Original post)

Tue Jun 28, 2016, 09:18 AM

1. Interesting looking read

I will likely buy it

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Response to rpannier (Reply #1)

Tue Jun 28, 2016, 09:21 AM

2. I might too. The reviewer is a stone cold conservative but the book itself is impressive.


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