Sunday, December 8, 2019

History’s Answer to Modern Despair

From Archbishop Chaput in Crisis:
George Weigel has given us a perfect tool to do that with his latest book, The Irony of Modern Catholic History (Basic Books). His argument is simple: When Pope Pius IX lost Rome and the Papal States to anticlerical revolutionaries in 1870, it seemed

that the Catholic Church was finished as a consequential player in history. That turned out to be exactly wrong. For in the 21st century, the Catholic Church is more vital and more consequential… Rather than killing Catholicism, the encounter with modernity has helped the Catholic Church rediscover some basic truths about [herself]. Even more ironically, the Church’s rediscovery of those truths might, just might, put Catholicism in a position to help secular modernity save itself from its own increasing incoherence.

A gifted writer and speaker, biographer of St. John Paul II, and the author of more than two dozen books, Weigel ranks among the leading Christian public intellectuals of the past four decades. Stylistically, The Irony of Modern Catholic History is a pleasure to read. But the easy style disguises the fact that it’s also an exercise in superb historical scholarship, from the reactionary Pope Gregory XVI in the mid-19th century, through the Modernist crisis and Vatican II, to the present.

His treatment of Pope Leo XIII and the “Leonine Revolution” in Catholic thought that rippled through the 20th century, helps us to make sense of “the development of Catholic social doctrine that would result in the late 20th-century Catholic human rights revolution.” It was a process—unimaginable to 19th century American Know Nothing anti-Catholics—“in which religious freedom would be celebrated as the first of civil rights,” and the Church would become “a global proponent of democracy—not by surrendering to modernity, but by retrieving and renewing elements of [her] own intellectual patrimony.”

Weigel also does thorough and deeply satisfying work in handling the legacy of Pius XII, a pope much-criticized (too often unjustly), but extraordinary in his contributions to Catholic life and thought. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

Satan has domain on earth so it will be a continuous battle against evil that pervades all aspects of life on this planet. We must never be complacent.