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

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Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.4 X 1.2 inches | 0.01 pounds

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About the Author

James Chappel is Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History at Duke University.


James Chappel has written a masterful accounting of one of the most perplexing questions in modern European history. It will be required reading for anyone interested in understanding the transition from dictatorship to democracy among hundreds of millions of European Catholics in the span of mere decades.--Richard Steigmann-Gall, author of The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945
Over the past century, the Catholic Church has undergone a dramatic transformation. Shedding its former hostility to social pluralism and political democracy, it has adapted itself to new patterns of societal organization that we now characterize as modern. In his capacious and richly populated history of the European Catholic laity, James Chappel provides an excellent survey of the intellectual and ideological debates that contributed to this epic transformation.--Peter E. Gordon, author of Adorno and Existence
The past century posed unexpected dangers to Catholics' immortal souls: fascism and socialism, and then liberalism, with its enticements to question things never questioned and enjoy things never enjoyed. In his wholly original and pathbreaking book Chappel takes us to the heart of their predicament, reminding us that it was neither simply historical nor European, but remains with the Church everywhere it faces the challenges of modernity.--John Connelly, author of From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965
This carefully researched and lucidly written history demonstrates how Catholic social thought shaped central features of 'secular' Western European states in the twentieth century, including the development of pro-familial welfare states and a 'European' variety of capitalism. Its transnational approach to developments that are all too often treated within a single national frame lends new insight into Europe's Catholic modernity.--Judith Surkis, author of Sexing the Citizen: Masculinity and Morality in France, 1870-1920
Chappel has taken one facet of the Catholic modern and explored it with exemplary scholarship and originality.--John Cornwell"Times Higher Education" (02/15/2018)
Highly creative, massively researched, and eye-opening...[A] fresh recasting of history.--Peter Steinfels"Commonweal" (05/18/2018)
Chappel skillfully explores how, why, and when the Catholic church became modern.--Publishers Weekly (01/29/2018)
Fascinating...Chappel's is a complex intellectual history, focusing not on popes and bishops, but on the lay individuals and movements of ideas that drove this sea change...[He] deftly survey[s] the intellectual evolution of Catholic thought throughout the 20th century.--Cormac Shine"Los Angeles Review of Books" (07/01/2018)
Catholic Modern is an endlessly fascinating analysis of Catholic social thought in turbulent times, which I imagine we will be turning to for years to come. Essential reading.-- (06/22/2018)
Authoritative...It sets out to explain how, when, and why the Catholic Church became modern.--Sarah Shortall"Boston Review" (08/10/2018)
Groundbreaking...This bare summary does not do justice to the sophistication and breadth of Chappel's book. It is vital reading for anyone interested in the [Roman Catholic] Church's engagement with politics in the 20th century.-- (10/05/2018)
Deeply researched and beautifully written...[An] excellent book...Chappel's history shows how profoundly Catholicism can be transformed over time.--Jan-Werner Müller"The Nation" (10/21/2019)
A heady look at how the church remade itself at a time of social and political upheaval.--America (10/25/2019)
An incisive account of how Catholics became (and not were) modern...A magnificent book by a promising author and scholar. A must-read for all who have an interest in the manifold ways in which faith and ideology have forged the minds and lives of so many during the twentieth century.-- (05/01/2019)
Chappel has historicized the dueling forms of Catholic modern at the heart of present polarization in the church...If you are a Catholic theologian working with twentieth-century European or Latin American figures, you need to read this book.--William L. Portier"Horizons" (12/01/2019)