The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement by Ulrich L. LehnerThe Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement by Ulrich L. Lehner

The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global Movement

byUlrich L. Lehner

Hardcover | February 4, 2016

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"Whoever needs an act of faith to elucidate an event that can be explained by reason is a fool, and unworthy of reasonable thought." This line, spoken by the notorious 18th-century libertine Giacomo Casanova, illustrates a deeply entrenched perception of religion, as prevalent today as it washundreds of years ago. It is the sentiment behind the narrative that Catholic beliefs were incompatible with the Enlightenment ideals. Catholics, many claim, are superstitious and traditional, opposed to democracy and gender equality, and hostile to science. It may come as a surprise, then, to learnthat Casanova himself was a Catholic. In The Catholic Enlightenment, Ulrich L. Lehner points to such figures as representatives of a long-overlooked thread of a reform-minded Catholicism, which engaged Enlightenment ideals with as much fervor and intellectual gravity as anyone. Their story opens newpathways for understanding how faith and modernity can interact in our own time. Lehner begins two hundred years before the Enlightenment, when the Protestant Reformation destroyed the hegemony Catholicism had enjoyed for centuries. During this time the Catholic Church instituted several reforms, such as better education for pastors, more liberal ideas about the roles of women,and an emphasis on human freedom as a critical feature of theology. These actions formed the foundation of the Enlightenment's belief in individual freedom. While giants like Spinoza, Locke, and Voltaire became some of the most influential voices of the time, Catholic Enlighteners were rightalongside them. They denounced fanaticism, superstition, and prejudice as irreconcilable with the Enlightenment agenda. In 1789, the French Revolution dealt a devastating blow to their cause, disillusioning many Catholics against the idea of modernization. Popes accumulated ever more power and the Catholic Enlightenment was snuffed out. It was not until the Second Vatican Council in 1962 that questions ofCatholicism's compatibility with modernity would be broached again. Ulrich L. Lehner tells, for the first time, the forgotten story of these reform-minded Catholics. As Pope Francis pushes the boundaries of Catholicism even further, and Catholics once again grapple with these questions, this book will prove to be required reading.
Ulrich L. Lehner is Professor of Religious History at Marquette University, Milwaukee. A member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, he has received awards and fellowships from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study, the Notre Dame Institute of Advanced Study, the Earhart Foundation, the German Humboldt Foundation, and the...
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Title:The Catholic Enlightenment: The Forgotten History of a Global MovementFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pagesPublished:February 4, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190232919

ISBN - 13:9780190232917

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Progress and Catholicism--Oil and Water?1. Catholic Enlighteners Around the Globe2. The Catholic Learning Curve: Toleration and Tolerance3. Feminism, Freedom, Faith: Catholic Women and the Enlightenment4. Catholic Enlightenment in the Americas, China, and India5. Devils, Demons, and the Divine in the Catholic Enlightenment6. Saints and Sinners7. Slaves, Servants, and Savages: Slavery in Catholic CountriesConclusion: The Death of Catholic Enlightenment and the Beginning of a Papal CatholicismAfterwordNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Upending conventional wisdom, Ulrich Lehner persuasively demonstrates that normal oppositions, conservative versus progressive, Enlightener versus Catholic, modern versus traditional are unhelpful in coming to grips with the fascinating history of Catholic engagements with the Enlightenment.His beautiful prose and captivating historical narrations are as enjoyable to read as they are profound. The Catholic Enlightenment deserves to be well read and discussed not only by historians and theologians, but also by anyone seeking to come to grips with our moment in history and Catholicism'srich contributions to it. This work will make you rethink what you thought you knew." --D. Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor in Ethics, Southern Methodist University