Roundtable XX-9 on James Chappel. Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church

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Roundtable Review

Volume XX, No. 9 (2018)

26 October 2018



Roundtable Editors: Thomas Maddux and Diane Labrosse

Roundtable and Web Production Editor: George Fujii


Introduction by Sarah Shortall


James Chappel.  Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church.  Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 2018.  ISBN:  9780674972100 (hardcover, $35.00/£25.95/€31.50).




Introduction by Sarah Shortall, University of Notre Dame.. 2

Review by Thomas Brodie, Jesus College, Oxford.. 5

Review by Giuliana Chamedes, University of Wisconsin at Madison.. 9

Review by John T. McGreevy, University of Notre Dame.. 13

Author’s Response by James Chappel, Duke University. 17


© 2018 The Authors.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.


As a number of the following reviews note, historians of twentieth-century Europe have not always paid sufficient attention to the role of religion. James Chappel is part of a new generation of scholars who are compensating for this silence by recovering the role that Catholics in particular have played in the central political events and movements of the twentieth century—from fascism and socialism, to postwar democratic rebuilding and human rights activism, to empire and its afterlives.[1] This emerging new wave of scholarship has yielded some very fine monographs, with more due out in the next few years, and Chappel’s Catholic Modern has already established itself as one of the most consequential. In this ambitious work, Chappel sets out to show how, when, and why, in the course of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church became modern. By this, he means that Catholics came to accept the modern separation between Church and state and the notion that religion should occupy a private sphere distinct from the public sphere in which political and economic life takes place. How, he asks, did Catholics stop fighting to create confessional Catholic states and instead embrace such typically modern principles as religious freedom, pluralism, and human rights? How, in short, did they stop “fighting to overturn modernity and began agitating for Catholic forms of modernity” (8)?


To answer these questions, Chappel argues, we must look to the 1930s. It was through a confrontation with ‘totalitarian’ ideologies in this all-important decade that Catholicism became modern. And yet, not all Catholics agreed on what this should entail. Specifically, Chappel identifies two main typologies of “Catholic modernism” and traces their trajectory from the 1930s to the 1960s. “Paternal” Catholics were animated above all by anti-communism and by a commitment to the patriarchal family—a model that Chappel associates with both the partisans of authoritarian corporatism in the 1930s and with Christian Democratic parties in the postwar period. “Fraternal” Catholics, for their part, were more anti-fascist than anti-communist. They were committed to a critique of racism, the defense of a robust civil society, and worked with non-Catholics to promote various forms of worker solidarity. Chappel identifies the French philosopher Jacques Maritain as the poster child for this “fraternal” model and also associates it with the Catholic “new left” of the 1960s. In practice, then, Chappel’s paternal/fraternal typology maps roughly onto the distinction between more conservative and more liberal or left-leaning Catholics, even though Chappel (in my view, rightly) avoids these terms. And while he traces how these two models have converged and diverged at various points since the 1930s, it is clear from his account that “paternal” Catholicism has been by far the dominant model.


In order to show how these typologies took form, Chappel focuses on exemplary lay intellectuals drawn from three countries: France, Germany, and Austria. Each of the reviews that follow addresses the merits and limitations of this choice of methodology. All three raise the question of whether the three countries Chappel has chosen can be taken as representative of trends in European Catholicism more broadly, asking, for instance, how the inclusion of Spain, Portugal, or Italy might alter the picture he has drawn. Thomas Brodie and John McGreevy also highlight the limits of intellectual history as a genre, asking how the methods of social and cultural history—especially an attention to the devotional practices and institutions in which Catholic life takes shape—might complement Chappel’s focus on ideas and intellectuals.


Another major focus of debate concerns the chronology of Chappel’s account. One of the major innovations of his study is to highlight the importance of the 1930s at the expense of more conventional moments of rupture like the Second World War or the Second Vatican Council. Once again, all three reviewers raise questions about the relative weight he accords to these moments. Giuliana Chamedes is the least persuaded by this chronology, arguing that Catholics in the 1930s and 1940s were very far from embracing the secular state and the confinement of religion to the private sphere. She points to the concordat diplomacy deployed by the Vatican in the interwar years and the efforts of postwar Christian Democratic parties to embed religious principles at the heart of political life as proof that Catholics continued to resist secular modernity well up until at least the 1960s, if indeed they ever embraced it.


Chamedes raises the most pointed objections to Chappel’s account, by disputing both when and whether Catholics embraced modernity in the manner Chappel defines it. The exchange between them gets at what are, in my view, the most important questions raised by Chappel’s book: the nature of political modernity and the extent to which religious actors have embraced or challenged the secular categories we conventionally use to define it. The vigor of this exchange is a testament to the importance of such questions, and they will no doubt continue to generate vigorous debate in coming years as more works on the subject (including Chamedes’s own) are published.


The three reviews thus provide an excellent window onto the major lines of substantive and methodological debate that are beginning to emerge in the scholarship on twentieth-century Catholicism. But all are agreed that Chappel’s book represents a major breakthrough in this field, not least because of the momentous questions it raises about the nature of modernity and Catholics’ relationship to it. In particular, the reviewers praise the book for shedding new light on the Catholic engagement with economic questions and the role that gender and the family have played in Catholic politics. Thanks to its ambition, its vibrant prose, and the impressive scope of its research, Catholic Modern immediately establishes itself as an indispensable reference point for scholars of twentieth-century Catholicism.




James Chappel is the Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History at Duke University, and he is currently a fellow at the National Humanities Center. He works on the intellectual and cultural history of modern Europe. His first book is Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church (Harvard University Press, 2018).


Sarah Shortall is an Assistant Professor of European History at the University of Notre Dame. She is currently completing a book manuscript called Soldiers of God in a Secular World: The Politics of Catholic Theology in Twentieth-Century France (under contract with Harvard University Press), and is also co-editing a volume of essays on Christianity and Human Rights with Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins.


Thomas Brodie is a Departmental Lecturer in Modern History at Jesus College, Oxford. His first book, German Catholicism at War, 1939-1945, will be published with Oxford University Press in autumn 2018.


Giuliana Chamedes is an Assistant Professor of European International History at the University of Wisconsin, at Madison. Her forthcoming book, To Make the World Safe for Religion: The Vatican’s Counter-Revolution in Twentieth-Century Europe is due out with Harvard University Press in the spring of 2019. She has published widely in transnational European history on the Catholic Church, anticommunism, and economic development. Her new book project concerns the implosion of the European consensus around the welfare state and welfarist social principles in the 1980s and 1990s.


John T. McGreevy is the Frances A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of American Jesuits: How an Embattled Religious Order Made Modern Catholicism Global (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).



James Chappel’s Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Church represents a lucidly written and compelling study of how, over the course of the twentieth century, European Catholics came to “embrace religious pluralism, human rights, and the secular state as positive goods” (3). This research aim is clearly articulated in Chappel’s introduction, and pursued via an innovative, transnational approach, exploring the changing attitudes of primarily lay Catholic intellectuals in France, Austria, and Germany between the aftermaths of the First World War and the cultural shifts of the 1960s (5). The resulting book is distinguished by its nuanced reading and analysis of texts, sensitivity to the contested and shifting nature of ‘Catholic’ thought across time and space, and intellectual ambition in tackling such a large and important subject. I greatly enjoyed reading Catholic Modern, learned much within its pages, and would like to congratulate James Chappel for writing a superb study, which places religion squarely within our wider understandings of twentieth-century European history.

There is indeed much to commend Chappel’s methodological approach. Given that the 1960s have loomed large within recent historiographies of the twentieth century’s religious transformations globally, Catholic Modern’s primary focus on the period from 1920 to 1960 is extremely refreshing, and an important reminder that the intellectual life of Catholic Europe was far from monolithic or static during those decades.[2] Chappel’s analysis also remains commendably balanced and free of the moralizing tenor which has often accompanied discussion of Catholics’ relationships with fascist and authoritarian regimes in the 1930s and 1940s.  Catholic Modern’s nuanced distinction between differing strands of modernist thought as they emerged during the 1930s—the dominant, conservative ‘paternal’ and more left-leaning ‘fraternal’—does excellent service in both the above contexts (12-15).


Chappel’s central argument concerning the development of a ‘Catholic Modern’ during the 1930s and 40s is, moreover, a convincing one. Chappel notes how, during the 1920s, most Catholic intellectuals in Austria, France, and Germany longed for the restoration of a form of confessional state, and were only too ready to embrace forms of political authoritarianism throughout the inter-war period to pursue this goal (46-59). This was an era in which the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain could attribute France’s contemporary woes to Protestants and Jews, German theologians and intellectuals developed a ‘Reich Theology,’ (Reichstheologie) and Catholic Workers’ Associations in Linz blamed “the corrosive influence of Judaism” for the economic ills of the new Austrian Republic (33). Chappel provides compelling evidence underlining the transformation of such attitudes over the mid-twentieth century, highlighting the embrace of political pluralism and ecumenical dialogue among Austrian, German, and French Catholic intellectuals. Austria’s Catholic Congress declared in a Manifesto of 1952 its opposition to what it termed “the politicized Church of past centuries,” and in Germany a Catholic Historian stated that “the Reich and the entire Middle Ages, and all that belonged to them, are over” (146). By this period Jacques Maritain had long since left his authoritarian and anti-Semitic beliefs of the 1920s behind him, and emerged as an eloquent proponent of human rights and global government, as articulated in his Man and the State of 1951, and Human Rights and Natural Law of 1942 (170-171).[3] This emphasis on the discontinuities within European Catholic political thought in the mid-twentieth century strikes me as eminently convincing. As Martin Conway’s work demonstrates, post-war Christian Democracy must be comprehended as a product of the peculiar conditions of the years following 1945, rather than the culmination of a seamless tradition of Catholic parliamentarianism dating back to the late nineteenth century, which, as Chappel notes, was in crisis by 1930.[4]


Reflecting the omnivorous intellectual interests of its central characters, Catholic Modern has something to engage scholars working in a wide range of sub-fields, far beyond those specializing in the histories of religion. Chappel explores how Catholic thinkers and intellectuals engaged with issues of economic production and justice in addition to the relationship between their faith and secular politics. For example, he outlines how, in the inter-war period, the intellectual work of laypeople did much to legitimise corporatism as an economic model, and facilitate its proliferation across Catholic Europe, from Portugal to Austria and Mussolini’s Italy (78-92). Chappel moreover underlines that, during the heyday of Christian Democracy in the 1950s, Catholic thinkers increasingly divested themselves of earlier critiques of capitalism and embraced the dramatic economic growth characteristic of the era as a means to support the nuclear family and combat poverty (186-187). Historians of gender will also profit greatly from Catholic Modern’s analysis. The book skilfully outlines not only how influentially the Church’s teachings pervaded natalist family policy during the 1930s and 1940s in authoritarian states such as Dollfuss’ Austria, Mussolini’s Italy and Vichy France, but also the ways in which the Catholic New Left increasingly broke with this tradition after 1945, helping pave the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960s. At an Austrian pastoral conference of 1953, one speaker even pronounced: “Without a doubt, the emancipation of women has resulted in successes that must be welcomed” (198). Such analysis serves to illustrate the real social, cultural and political transformations on the ground wrought by the emergence of ‘Catholic Modern’ in the intellectual arena.


Of course, as Chappel himself freely concedes, the conceptual and methodological challenges of writing the histories of Catholicism or the Catholic Church as a global organization are daunting (5-8). In that vein, the following comments are not so much intended as criticism of his book, so much as an attempt to explore future directions for research building upon Catholic Modern’s arguments.


Firstly, how would our picture be altered by adopting a larger geographical area of study, including those heartlands of European Catholicism, Spain, Portugal and Italy? Franco’s Spain, above all, came to embody the confessional state longed for by anti-modern Catholic intellectuals during the inter-war period, with the nationalist cause capturing the imagination of many clergymen and laypeople outside Iberia as early as the civil war itself (100). As Mary Vincent argues, Francoist Spain defined itself as a “Catholic, social and representative state,” in which “National-Catholicism was hegemonic, the cementing ideology of a victorious Crusade.”[5] The Concordat of 1953— concluded at the same time as the triumph of ‘Catholic Modern’ north of the Pyrenees— defined Catholicism as Spain’s official state religion, severely curtailed the rights of Protestant and other religious minorities, and granted the Church sweeping powers within the educational and welfare systems as well as exemption from taxation.[6] The Catholic hierarchy received the right to request the censorship of speech or publications of which it disapproved, and freely spoke of other Christian denominations as ‘sects.’ In the late 1940s, Catholic Bishops thundered against “the heresy spread by Protestants” in pastoral letters, and on the ground, Spain’s small Protestant minority suffered acts of intimidation and even physical attacks.[7] Chappel is, of course, abundantly aware of this Spanish context, conceding that a ‘more conservative church’ would be uncovered by study of Mediterranean Europe. I am also in complete agreement with him that, even in Spain, ‘Catholic Modern’ ultimately overcame Francoist National Catholicism, as demonstrated most powerfully by the Spanish Episcopate’s statement of 1973 “On the Church and Political Community,” which advocated political pluralism, and an end to the fusion of church and state (8).[8] My question here rather concerns how Catholics outside of Spain— especially in Chappel’s case studies of France, Austria, and Germany—perceived and related to the model of confessional statehood represented by the Francoist dictatorship, and how this changed over time. Given the vocal support for Francoism displayed by so many European Catholics during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, it would be fascinating to trace the evolutions of their perspectives after 1945 (100). Historians of Spain have long since noted that the global transformations of the Church encapsulated by the Second Vatican Council profoundly shook up the politics of Catholicism under the Franco dictatorship—what perspectives do we glean from reversing the looking glass for the years 1945-c.1965?


Continuing in a transnational vein, another question which occurs pertains to the position of international institutions within the evolution of ‘modern’ Catholic thought. Chappel provides fascinating individual examples of this theme, noting how, in inter-war Austria and Germany, a range of Catholic journals attacked the League of Nations as “a creation of Jewish finance,” in stark contrast to Jacques Maritain’s advocacy of forms of global governance after 1945 (51, 170-71). Did the development of ‘Catholic Modern’ during the mid-twentieth century entail an increasing acceptance of international organizations—as well as the secular nation state? Wolfram Kaiser’s work, highlighting the prominent roles played by Christian Democrats in the emergence of the European Union, strikes me as required reading on this point.[9]


Let us turn to methodology. Chappel’s transnational and intellectual approach is, of course, entirely valid, and facilitates Catholic Modern’s impressive ability to range widely chronologically as well as geographically. But how would one deepen the engagement between the arguments developed by ‘Catholic Modern’ and questions of social and cultural history? For instance, what were the interfaces between the worlds of transnational intellectual exchange central to Chappel’s analysis, and the lives of many laypeople, which remained, throughout much of the mid-twentieth century, rooted in regional and national cultures (8)? What roles did class, gender, and generation play in shaping the responses of wider lay communities to the theological challenges and debates so expertly unpackaged by Chappel? Would a social historical version of ‘Catholic Modern’ follow the same chronological trajectories, pivoting on the 1930s? The resilience of confessional divides in early post-war West Germany suggests a slightly different timeline, with Catholic locals in Westphalia often referring to newly-arrived Protestant refugees from the former eastern territories as “heathens.”[10]


My final question flows from the above and concerns our positioning of the Second World War within this narrative— sitting as it does squarely within the chronology of 1920-1970. As Chappel notes, several of the dramatis personae central to his study—such as German Catholic theologian Dietrich von Hildebrand and Jacques Maritain— spent the conflict in the intellectually stimulating atmosphere of New York City (140-141). Chappel’s analysis of this milieu is absolutely fascinating and thought-provoking, but such experiences of the Second World War were naturally far removed from those of Catholics on the ground in Europe itself. For Austrian and German Catholics, the war proved a searing experience, featuring not only the devastation of the Heimat by 1945, the experience of mass bereavement, and the moral challenges resulting from knowledge of, and complicity in, the Nazi regime’s genocidal policies. “Total defeat” in 1945 moreover represented the collapse of a war effort which the majority of Austrian and German Catholics had supported and deemed legitimate.[11] If—as I am convinced by Chappel—intellectuals’ embrace of ‘Catholic Modern’ was primarily shaped by their encounters with ‘totalitarianism’ in the 1930s, could one possibly argue that, for the majority of laypeople in France, Austria, and Germany, the following years of the Second World War proved more transformative of their attitudes, particularly in paving the way for the restrained, conservative politics of Christian Democracy after 1945? Whether one agrees with this particular hypothesis or not, my sense is that synthesising social, cultural, and intellectual accounts of religious transformation in the twentieth century will provide promising terrain for future research, connecting the global, local, and national. Such a task will naturally involve the collective labour of many scholars using a range of approaches and methodologies—Catholic Modern strikes me as a fantastic contribution to that project.



Until recently, the history of Catholicism was consigned to the margins of twentieth-century history. Confident that new technologies and new modes of sociality meant that the influence of the Church in public and private life was on the out, scholars paid little mind to the institutions and practices of the world’s millions of Catholics. In the past few decades, much has changed. Thanks to the important work of many scholars, many of whom wrote in the wake of 9/11 and the jolting awareness that religious politics is not over and done with, the history of Catholicism is back on the radar. So much so that today it has become difficult to write the history of our current era without analyzing Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular. A bevvy of important works penned by both historians and political scientists now scrutinizes everything from the role of Catholicism in postwar European integration to the lived practices of non-Western Catholics in anti-imperialist movements, from how papal diplomacy proves or disproves rational choice models or theories about soft power and its limits.


James Chappel’s new book, Catholic Modern, is an impressive addition to this still-burgeoning literature. It recovers the voices of a small but key group of French, Austrian and German intellectuals, many of whom have received little to no attention in the scholarship thus far. The book’s central characters, nearly all of whom are men, include figures like Theodore Brauer, Waldemar Gurian, Dietrich von Hildebrand, François Perroux, and Ernst Karl Winter. Chappel argues that these near-forgotten intellectuals deserve our attention because thanks to their ideas and capacity to build networks of influence, they helped transform and modernize European Catholicism in the twentieth century. In particular, they eased the transition from a Catholic anti-modern medievalism to a Catholic (twentieth-century) Enlightenment, and from a Catholic romance with paternalistic authoritarianism to a belated but ultimately profound embrace of pluralism, democracy, human rights, and religious freedom.

Readers will find much to like in this spirited and beautifully narrated work of history. Displaying great range and depth of analysis, Chappel moves easily from art exhibitions in Berlin to Parisian living rooms, and from scrappy pamphlets to handwritten letters. His capacity to bring to life webs of intellectual influence is unmatched. Further, Catholic Modern punctuates an ideas-heavy narrative with plenty of geopolitical reference points, making it easy for the lay reader to follow along and not feel lost in a strange new world of Catholic mid-century thought. Finally, specialists and non-specialists alike will have no trouble grasping Chappel’s core argument, which is elegant and parsimonious. In reply to those who assert that Catholicism has never been and never could have been modern, Chappel replies that European Catholicism became “modern, all too modern” at a certain key point in the twentieth century.


That moment came in the 1930s, a decade of profound and revolutionary change for European Catholicism. In the wake of the Great Depression, European Catholics belatedly embraced “modernity,” a term which Chappel uses as a synonym for the secular state as popularly understood, that is, a state in which religion and politics are kept separate, each relegated to their own spheres. For Chappel, this 1930s watershed—that is, the Catholic acceptance of a private religious sphere as separate and distinct from a public political one—not only freed the Catholic Church from the prison of medievalist conceptions of authority and power; additionally, it left a profound mark on political manifestations of Catholicism in the decades to come. Starting from the 1930s, Chappel argues, Catholics gave up on the project to seize political power or influence the state, preferring instead to try to shape a restricted private sphere concerned with matters like sexuality and the reproductive family. Under their influence, postwar Christian Democratic parties inaugurated family welfare programs, which marked the triumph of a mainstream Catholic fixation on the heteronormative and paternalistic family. Though Chappel is careful to emphasize in individual chapters more than in the introduction that there were multiple Catholic modernisms (some rabidly anti-communist, some anti-fascist, and some straddled between the two extremes), he nonetheless suggests that all varieties not only accepted but legitimized a shift from a Catholic interest in life in its entirety (political and non-political) to an emphasis on influencing the private sphere alone.


In an era when comparatively few European Catholics rally under the banner of religion and pour into the streets only to protest matters like abortion or gay marriage, the central argument of the book has an appealing ring. But is it correct? Did Catholics really articulate and accept a division of spheres between public and private in the 1930s? Did they truly renounce the project of penetrating public affairs in this decade – even as they re-forged Christian Democratic parties and worked to seize political power, starting from 1944-5? Most contentiously, should we take as a given (as Chappel’s book seems to) that Europe did in fact embrace secularism or “modernization,” as he would have it, in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s? In other words, is it fair to say that these were the key years in which the Catholic Church was chased out of public affairs and consigned to the inner and private lives of the continent’s individual residents?


The merits of Catholic Modern are bountiful, and any scholar of Catholicism in the twentieth century should rush to purchase a copy. It is a joy to read and the figures it recuperates truly emerge in sharp relief.  However, the central argument on which the book’s analysis rests does not fully convince. Perhaps this is because of the focus on Germany and France, two countries that are not representative of broader European trends. Chappel’s point that most 1930s Catholics accepted a division between private and public spheres is simply not correct when we look at Europe as whole. Indeed, mainstream Catholics throughout this decade understood their role as that of perpetuating Church-state ties through the conclusion of concordats (treaties concluded between the Vatican and secular states which aimed to vastly expand Church authority over a range of public and private domains), and through the expansion of Catholic civil society organizations that expressly presented Catholicism as a component of state and nation-building projects. Though a small number of counter-current Catholics did begin to articulate the importance of cultivating civil society in the interwar years, it is an interpretive mistake to read this as synonymous with a decision to accept secularism.


If we take the most prominent exponent of this view, Jacques Maritain, for instance, we can see that the call for a more robust civil society was actually Maritain’s answer to how to re-Christianize the state, and build what he called an “integral Catholicism,” in which religion was not just a part or appendage of the state, but deeply embedded within the state—that is, integral to it. Furthermore, the Catholic romance with authoritarianism in the 1930s—whether we think of Austria, Spain, Italy, Poland, or Portugal – was precisely motivated by an enthusiasm about the possibility of creating a Catholics politics, a Catholic economics, and a Catholic social order, which was at once pro-Catholic, anti-secular, anti-Communist, and anti-liberal. The rush of Catholics from across Europe to fight on General Francisco Franco’s side in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939 shows how many Catholics hated the secularist policies of the Second Spanish Republic so much that they were willing to pick up arms against a legitimately elected government so as to try to stamp out that model of rule altogether. Papal pronouncements of the 1930s (and 1940s and 1950s, for that matter), fanned the flames, emphasizing the Holy See’s continued commitment to anti-liberal and anti-secular modes of governance.


Even if we shift our attention to a somewhat later period, it is difficult to argue that Catholics in the early years after World War II embraced and accepted the secular state. As numerous scholars have shown, Christian Democracy, as it re-emerged in the 1940s, not only rested on an explicitly religious understanding of political affairs; it also advertised that understanding as a way to build electoral power. Whether it came to explaining what was wrong with Communism or what was good about European integration, Christian Democrats leaned on religious appeals, many of them of 1920s and 1930s vintage. Furthermore, from their first years in power, Christian Democrats pursued close diplomatic relations with the Vatican, fought for the protection and promotion of state funding for confessional schools, and sought to obtain the recognition of interwar concordats. Through these moves, Catholics were advancing a conception of the good society that saw religion not as a thing separate and apart from the political sphere, but as an integral component of any well-functioning political order. It is certainly significant that Christian Democrats smiled upon a (highly curtailed and controlled) vision of popular sovereignty, that they were capitalists of a peculiar sort (in that their capitalism was shot through with corporatist motifs), and that their success depended on building bridges with Protestants (not so much Jews). But these facts in and of themselves should not be read as an acceptance of secularism: rather, what emerged in postwar Europe was arguably a novel form of anti-liberal and anti-secular democracy—one that was attempting to keep both American hegemony and Communist power at bay.


Catholic Modern also implicitly suggests that Europe in the 1930s and 1940s did in fact secularize and enshrine the separation of Church and state. However, this assumption is not borne out by the evidence. Even if we do not take into account the rich genealogical work of scholars like Talal Asad, Saba Mahmood, Samuel Moyn, Elayne Oliphant, and Mayanthi Fernando -- work that shows how Christianity helped invent the concept of the secular so as to shore up its own influence in European and American society, in a bid to elevate Christianity above other religions – the notion that Europe was secular already in the 1930s and 1940s is puzzling, or, at the very least, warrants further explanation.[12] If by secular we mean a continent where Church attendance was down and Catholic beliefs were on the wane, then the statistical evidence shows that this process did not begin until the mid-to-late 1950s. By contrast, if by secular we mean a continent where the Church was progressively eliminated from public life and where religion and politics became separate matters, then this was not yet the case in the years immediately before and after World War II.


Instead, the period was characterized by the shocking resurgence of religious politics, thanks to the diplomatic activism of the Holy See, the decision on the part of Nazi-Fascist and other authoritarian powers that Catholicism could be a boon for state-building projects, and, of course, the rise of Christian Democracy. Only in the mid-1950s and 1960s did things begin to change – and even then, the change was gradual. Following the exceptional gains of Vatican II, figures like Pope John Paul II dialed back on many of the Council’s commitments and re-asserted the Church’s capacity to intervene in public as well as private life. Furthermore, in just the past few years, many of Europe’s political parties have announced their intention to re-Christianize Europe, bring Europeans back into the Church, and undo the nefarious secular and liberal (read: Muslim and George Soros-funded) tendencies that supposedly have led to the continent’s corruption. In these ways and more, Europe’s anti-secular or non-secular past is one that does not pass. Perhaps the real lesson here is that if ‘modernity’ is compatible with a distinctive form of Catholic modernism, it is a form of Catholic modernism that has been more anti-secular than secular.


Despite the limits of the book’s broad arguments, however, which likely stem from its focus on limited geographic settings, Catholic Modern is a necessary and important contribution to several ongoing themes and debates that are still central to our contemporary world. Whether or not we believe in the historical actualization of the liberal dichotomy between the political and the ethical, or the political and the religious, the question of how Europe moved from an authoritarian continent to one that embraced varieties of pluralism, democracy, human rights, and religious freedom is still a deep puzzle for scholars and non-scholars alike. Finally, Catholic Modern has the great merit of placing Catholic intellectuals at the heart of the story of Europe’s political and social reinvention in the 1940s. This is certainly where these intellectuals belong, and one hopes that future scholars will take up where Chappel has left off, and continue to trace out how these and other figures coined the core ideas and concepts which are still very much with us today.


Catholic Modern is a major achievement. It signals another important step in the ongoing integration of twentieth-century European history with modern Catholic history, a task elusive even to historians as distinguished as the late Tony Judt. This project now gathers momentum with a cluster of superb monographs in the last decade, including, simply to note a handful of the leading English language texts, John Connelly on Catholic anti-Semitism, Samuel Moyn on Catholics and human rights, Brian Porter-Szücs on Polish Catholicism, J.P. Daughton and Elizabeth Foster on French Catholics and colonialism and, just this year, Piotr Kosicki’s study of Polish (and French) Catholic intellectuals. The literature in other European languages, to the extent that I can judge, also grows in sophistication and reach.[13]


Catholic Modern is the most theoretically ambitious of these volumes, with an original and often compelling argument about the arc of Catholic thought for much of the twentieth century. The basic trajectory is familiar, asking how a church once formally opposed to notions such as the separation of church and state and other markers of modernity evolved into the contemporary global institution. Signposts in the conventional narrative include the lessening of nineteenth century anti-clericalism, the cataclysm of two world wars pushing Catholics into more active engagement with European politics, and the internal push toward reform evidenced at the Second Vatican Council. Chappel does not deny this narrative but he does alter it. His most revisionist claim is that “in the 1930s…the Church transitioned from an anti-modern institution into an anti-totalitarian one” (11).


The claim is important and convincing. First, though, two caveats. The book’s title misleads. Catholic Modern is in fact a history of Catholic modernity in particular places, namely Germany (most convincingly), Austria, and France. He explains this geographical focus by claiming that in the twentieth century “intellectual innovation in the Church tended to come from Europe, and from these countries” (8). Fair enough, although Chappel might at least occasionally trace the movement of these Catholic ideas from his chosen three countries beyond the continent, or even across the Pyrenees to Spain and Portugal or below the Alps to Italy.


It is also an intellectual history. Chappel defends himself from those who would (foolishly) attack intellectual history as worrisomely “elite” (7) by nervously identifying the handful of women writers and the occasional non-European populating his narrative. He might linger more on the challenge posed by writing the intellectual history of a religious community. Absent from Catholic Modern is the stuff of modern Catholicism, the schools, parishes, miracle accounts, devotions, liturgies and church buildings that constituted daily Catholic life.  To Chappel’s credit, theology itself is present, and he includes lucid sketches of a panoply of figures, including the French philosopher Jacques Maritain, the most important figure for this period in Catholic intellectual life; the German Catholic writer and publicist, Waldemar Gurian, who was forced to flee to the United States in the 1930s; and Bernhard Häring, the influential German moral theologian. But the relationship between Catholic intellectuals (even converts such as Maritain and Gurian) and the communities that formed and supported them is absent. When the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci ruminated on the “organic” relationship between intellectuals and their communities, after all, he chose as one example Italian Jesuits and their influence on Italian politics and the Catholic Action movement of the 1920s. But Gramsci also urged analysis of Jesuit authored pamphlets on the devotion to the sacred heart. [14]


Back to Catholic Modern. Chappel’s insight is to see that the crisis of the 1930s provoked Catholics to abandon much of the nostalgic medievalism and yearning for an organic society that had long characterized Catholic social thought. (This yearning crossed the Atlantic. As late as the early 1950s Jesuits at Fordham University required first year undergraduates to read an artifact of popular medievalism, a 1907 text entitled The Thirteenth: Greatest of Centuries.)[15]


Instead, Catholics accepted the secular state and began to carve out protected space within that state for Catholic people and Church institutions, a firewall against totalitarian ambitions displayed by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Phrases such as ‘human rights’ and ‘individual dignity’ entered the Catholic lexicon.  The debate moved from the neo-medievalist effort to overcome the secular state to the modern effort to shape it. Collaboration with the state could, and did, occur, not only in democratic Ireland and Belgium, but also in Austria, Portugal, Mussolini’s Italy and other authoritarian milieus. Chappel persuasively insists, in fact, that a Catholic sympathy for fascism was as modern, during the 1930s, as Catholic opposition. (The absence of a Catholic justification for democracy, a legacy of the fierce battles fought between liberals and Catholics in the nineteenth century, is the dog that does not bark in twentieth century Catholic social thought.)


Only in the 1940s and in the context of the Cold War would Catholics jettison sympathy for authoritarian regimes (as well as the most severe anti-capitalist Catholic rhetoric) and develop justifications for the Christian Democratic parties that Chappel rightly sees as the “most successful political innovation in modern European history” (148). Pope Pius XII’s endorsement of democracy in his Christmas addresses of 1942 and 1944 is frequently invoked, but Chappel provides a deeper understanding of how these speeches also registered a new Catholic appreciation for the secular state.


This crude summary hardly does justice to Chappel’s superb research—in archives across Europe and the United States—and urgent prose. The range of figures treated and the sophistication of the analysis illuminates any number of historical questions, from the origins of postwar social welfare policy in Germany, France, and Austria to the ways in which trade unions participated in the social market economy. He is especially good on the ins and outs of postwar West German politics, and traces a clear through line from obscure intra-Catholic quarrels in the 1930s to West German chancellors Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard and the postwar Wirtschaftswunder.


Where the book falters in my judgment is in an overly harsh assessment of some Catholic modernists. Chappel’s approach is taxonomic: he divides Catholic modernists into “paternal” Catholic modernists driven by anti-Communism and a need to bolster the patriarchal family and “fraternal” Catholic modernists open to socialist-Catholic alliances and a more egalitarian vision of family roles. (59, 108)


His argument rests more than it needs to on this division. In particular he sees the late 1940s as moment of closing doors and the triumph of “paternal” modernists. Only then did an American-led but European Catholic-supported anti-Communism devour the more forward-thinking impulses of the 1930s, leading to a rejection of more global government schemes (as opposed to a reinforcement of the nation state) and a focus on economic growth and consumption which in turn reinforced conventional notions of gender roles in the household. He even draws an oddly rigid line between Jacques Maritain and the Christian Democratic parties in Europe and Latin America that often claimed Maritain as an inspiration. “Maritain’s form of modernism,” he concludes, “was sidelined in the transnational spaces of the Church” (180).


To be fair, Chappel’s analysis dovetails with a rich body of work by Nelson Lichtenstein, Lizabeth Cohen, Jacqueline Dowd Hall and others on the 1940s as a missed opportunity for more socially egalitarian outcomes in the United States, too.[16] In the United States, the 1945 General Motors Strike (and the rejection of worker participation in management decisions) and the failure to enact universal health care are often cited as emblematic roads not taken, as is the postwar focus on the nuclear family. A primary villain, again, is an anti-Communism that swamped or repressed social democratic impulses.


What both Chappel’s book and those by these historians of the United States diminish is not only the palpable relief that greeted the economic boom of the late 1940s on both sides of the Atlantic, especially following the horrors of depression and war. They also do not grapple with the moral impulse, or at least legitimate fear, behind the era’s anti-Communism. Admittedly, few modern institutions had been more obsessive about the Communist threat than Roman Catholicism, and in the early twentieth century these fears often blended with anti-Semitic warnings about ‘Judeo-Bolshevism.’


But why are we surprised that anti-Communism became so central to Catholic self-identity, from Pope Pius XII on down, as repression of religion in Eastern Europe reached terrifying levels of intensity? By the late 1940s, archbishops were being imprisoned; Catholic organizations infiltrated by secret police, and Catholic institutions closed. Chappel regrets that anti-Communism had a “suffocating” (167) effect on Catholic intellectual life, and he chastises some of his “fraternal” Catholic exemplars, Waldemar Gurian, for succumbing to anti-Communist fervor. (That Gurian is “fraternal” in the 1930s and “paternal” in the 1950s suggests the permeability of the categories).


Gurian, Chappel laments, took “full advantage” of opportunities to “labor on American’s behalf” (167).  A more charitable explanation is that Gurian, like other Catholic modernists, chose the North Atlantic democratic model, and more especially the European Christian Democratic model, with its respect for civil liberties and robust social welfare provisions, over high Stalinism. The imperfections of this model are evident in retrospect, notably, as Chappel effectively demonstrates, the unwillingness to acknowledge the Catholic anti-semitism of the prewar era. The available choices in 1947, however, make the end result of stable democracies deeply informed by Catholic social thought more impressive, not less.


The last chapter of Catholic Modern is less satisfying than the cogent analysis of 1930s and 1940s. The chronology extends to the late 1960s, but the Second Vatican Council is mostly off-stage, with little attention given to the dynamics of that extraordinary gathering. Chappel perilously tries to connect “paternal Catholic modernism” in support of the nuclear family in the 1950s with anti-abortion politics in the 1980s, and the discussion of Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical rejecting ‘artificial’ forms of birth control is rushed. Some of the most fervent advocates of large families and a distinct Catholic modernism in the 1950s, for example, did not segue directly into anti-abortion politics.  Instead they pleaded with church authorities to reconsider the birth control issue in the 1960s and were devastated by Pope Paul VI’s decision to reaffirm the ban, overruling a papal commission selected to study the matter and the advise of most of his episcopal advisors. The best recent work on the early anti-abortion movement, in fact, sees its roots, perhaps surprisingly, in the social justice ferment of the late 1960s. [17]


Still, the late 1960s is a logical ending for Chappel’s narrative in another sense. As he shrewdly recognizes, the cross-currents of global Catholicism had by that time become more complex, with practices and ideas often beginning in Asia, Latin America and North America and only then circulating through Europe and back again. Chappel concludes Catholic Modern by pitting Pope Francis as a “fraternal modernist” against Popes Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II as “clearly embedded in the paternal modernist tradition” (255-256). I doubt the distinction. I have no doubts about Chappel’s accomplishment. “The important question,” he concludes, “is not whether but how the Church will be modern” (258). Catholic Modern instantly establishes itself as a touchstone for addressing this vital topic.


It is apparent by now that scholars of international relations and diplomacy cannot afford to ignore religion. Religion can be a force for disruption and violence, but it can also be one of pacification and integration. How could it happen that a religious tradition might soften its attitude towards liberalism, democracy, and human rights? How might it happen that a religious community with its own vision for international order could learn to collaborate with secular projects like the United Nations? A century ago, these questions applied first and foremost to the Catholic Church: the global institution that, more than any other, had set itself squarely against political modernity and its corollary institutions. In my recent book, Catholic Modern, I have provided a revisionist account of the Church’s tumultuous path through twentieth century history, seeking to understand why this is no longer the case. The answer is not at all obvious, which is why the history of the Church has been a controversial arena in recent years. I am grateful that this forum includes responses from some of its most influential participants—individuals from whom I have learned a great deal, and without whom Catholic Modern would not have been possible. I am grateful to all of the respondents, to Sarah Shortall for her cogent introduction, and to Diane Labrosse and Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins for organizing the forum.


I hope that readers will recognize that the debates broached here represent genuine fault lines in an important and emergent field of international history. None of the reviews cast doubt on the rigor of my scholarship—these are substantive, analytical disagreements about controversial topics (indeed, the reviewers themselves have quite different understandings of the Christian Democratic moment). It is tempting to address every concern addressed in the reviews, swatting them away in an attempt to defend my book as holy writ. Cathartic as such an approach might be, it would not be intellectually charitable, nor of much interest to readers. Instead, I will lay out the major arguments of the book and address the criticism that each one generated. I will defend my position as best as I am able, in the hopes of spurring further dialogue about one of the most interesting and consequential transformations in twentieth century global history.


I’ll begin by reconstructing the basic transformation that the book attempts to explain. It is indisputable that the Church changed dramatically between the 1920s and the 1960s, the period covered by this book. In the 1920s, Catholics lined up behind reactionary, anti-democratic, and often anti-Semitic political projects. By the 1960s, Catholics had by and large become defenders of human rights, religious freedom, and the secular state. In Western and Central Europe, Christian Democratic parties, led by Catholic politicians, oversaw the birth of consumerist societies allied with the United States. In the United States, John F. Kennedy was elected president, while in Rome the Second Vatican Council announced a new era in official dogma: one in which freedom of religion was paramount. In a word, Catholics became “modern.” They accepted at last that the old era of throne-and-altar alliance was over, and that the new task for the Church was to shape a world of religious pluralism and secular states. How, when, and why did this happen?


The book makes three basic claims. The first is temporal, and concerns when and therefore why the transition happened. My argument is that the 1930s constitute a fulcrum in modern Catholic history. During that decade, Catholics realized that their attempt to re-conquer society and state alike had failed. Faced with the Great Depression and the rapid onset of what they called ‘totalitarianism,’ they came to see that the ‘modern’ settlement of Church-state separation was here to stay. They had no choice, then, but to regroup and shape a new and Catholic modernity, which they did with a considerable degree of success.

Two of the three reviewers were generally convinced. Giuliana Chamedes very much was not. She argues, instead, that Europe’s Catholics did not become “modern” until the 1960s, and that in the interwar and postwar years, they still sought some kind of religious politics and Church-state fusion. I think that this is mistaken. The book as a whole is meant to argue against just that position, so there is no space here to reiterate my rationale as a whole. I will respond, though, to the specific counter-arguments she proposes.


Chamedes gestures, first, to initiatives streaming from the Vatican: concordats and Catholic Action. While I show in the book that papal discourse about modernity does change significantly in the 1930s, that is not my primary focus and I accept that some pockets of the curia were not on board. And yet, even if one does adopt a Rome-centric perspective, the evidence for a shift in the interwar period is strong. Pope Pius XII’s Christmas messages, delivered during the Second World War, inhabit a different conceptual universe from the nostalgic and crusading encyclicals released by his predecessor in the early 1920s. Moreover, the concordats of this period did not attempt to reinstate Church-state fusion. They often forbade clerical involvement in politics, and they almost never insisted that Catholicism be named the official religion of the state. The mere act of signing them indicated a papal belief in the legitimacy of the signatories—secular nation-states—and there is no great difference between the treaties with majority-Catholic states (as in Portugal, 1940) and majority-Protestant ones (as in Prussia, 1929).[18] The same is true of Catholic Action, the papal initiative to centralize and control the vast apparatus of Catholic civil society organizations. Catholic Action organizations were duty bound to abjure politics in the traditional sense. It is true that they were meant to conquer civil society, but the very conjuring of civil society as a non-political space is evidence that they, like the concordats that protected them, presumed the legitimacy of political modernity.[19]


Chamedes argues, secondly, that Catholic intellectuals outside of Rome were only rarely committed to secular statehood and were still attempting, in the 1930s, to “re-Christianize the state.” My main response is to point readers to chapters 2 and 3 of my book, in which I attempt to make the case that this is not true. I discuss dozens of figures in those chapters, in an analysis designed to show that the zeal to Christianize the state waned, and almost disappeared, in this period: the new discourse of anti-totalitarianism, anti-Communism, and human rights was not designed to, and could not be used to, defend confessional statehood. This does not mean that Catholic intellectuals ceased agitating for their faith to inform their politics. If anything, politics became more religious than before in the 1930s and 1940s, as Chamedes points out. It means, though, that Catholics articulated the relationship between faith and politics in a modern key, abandoning the monarchist nostalgia of the recent past and seeking to leverage the power of the secular state to enshrine Catholic values in the public and private sphere alike.


Chamedes has deep knowledge of this period, and could doubtless provide a good deal of evidence for her claim. The only piece she offers, though, fails to convince. She claims that the French theologian Jacques Maritain pursued an “integral Catholicism” in which religion would be “deeply embedded” in the state. This might have been true of the young Maritain, but by the time of his masterpiece, Integral Humanism (1936), he clearly rejected this position.[20] First of all, he did not defend “integral Catholicism,” a term linked with precisely the sort of monoconfessional, defensive crouch that he wrote the book to upend.[21] He intended “integral humanism” to be an alternative to that approach, and he was quite clear that the Church would have to disentangle itself from the lay, secular state. While he believed that a healthy politics could only come from a Catholic renewal, he was also certain that the era of confessional politics was over and that Catholics had to accept the advent of a modern world of religious pluralism (this is why he was opposed to Catholic political parties).[22]


To return to the main thread: if the first claim of the book is that the transition to Catholic modernism took place in the 1930s, the second is that this happened in two different ways. Most Catholics adopted an anti-Communist, ‘paternal’ form of modernism that placed family values at the center of the Catholic mission. A small but important minority adopted an anti-fascist, ‘fraternal’ variant of Catholic modernism, which championed anti-capitalism, anti-racism, and collaboration with socialists. The former, in my view, remained in the ascendant in the post-1945 era, under the guise of Christian Democracy. Normally understood as the final victory of formerly marginal anti-fascist Catholic resisters, my book narrates Christian Democracy, the most successful political movement of the post-1945 period, as a recasting of the conservative, anti-Communism, and familialist Catholicism of the paternal tradition.


Chamedes and McGreevy both contest this, but for different reasons. Chamedes argues that Christian Democrats, like their predecessors in the 1930s, were opposed to secular modernity and were still seeking Church-state fusion. This seems to me a misreading of the parties, which after all gathered Protestants and secular liberals under their umbrella. It is certainly the case, as she points out, that Christian Democrats claimed that religious vitality was a necessary component of democratic flourishing. This is a widespread belief, shared by Alexis de Tocqueville and Barack Obama, and does not mean that Christian Democrats were opponents of secular statehood. On the contrary, Christian Democrats seldom, or even never, attempted to reinstate ancien régime forms of clerical politics.[23] Christian Democrats were duty bound to collaborate with Protestants and Americans in the name of statebuilding, welfare state construction, and organized capitalism. They may have struggled for Catholic education, and for moralizing censorship and family policies, but this does not at all make them “anti-modern.”


McGreevy agrees that Christian Democrats were perfectly modern, but he thinks that I am overly critical of them for rehashing the conservatism of the past. Given the dynamism of the 1950s economy and the well-grounded fear of Soviet anti-clericalism, he reasons, Catholics had little choice but to gather once again behind the anti-Communist flag, especially since Christian Democracy allowed an opening for the more humanist, Maritain-style ideas from the 1930s. For all of its flaws, he suggests, we should nonetheless view the Christian Democratic moment as a great achievement. I largely agree with this sentiment: Christian Democracy solved the century-long puzzle of how to create a form of conservatism that would not desire, even secretly, to uproot constitutional and democratic governance. And while it did so largely by reincorporating and reframing traditional conservative values, I am at pains in the book to show that the parties were, as befits modern mass parties, home to significant ideological diversity.


Nonetheless, and however explicable it might be, I am still convinced that Christian Democracy represented a decisive rejection of the antifascist forms of Catholicism nourished in the 1930s: this was, I believe, fundamental to its success. My reasoning here is explained in chapter 4 of the book, but I will briefly address here the two figures that McGreevy references. First, he is surprised at the sharp line that I draw between Jacques Maritain and postwar Christian Democracy. However commonplace it has become to see a connection between them, it is challenging to derive from the historical evidence. It might be that a handful of Christian Democratic politicians approvingly cited him, but this does not mean that their parties had any relation to Maritain’s ideas, or to the antifascism he represented. Maritain himself certainly did not think that they did, and a dispassionate consideration of Christian Democratic policymaking explains why. Second, McGreevy disputes my characterization of Waldemar Gurian, and the anti-Communism he represented, as “suffocating” Catholic intellectual life. I can appreciate the depth and authenticity of Gurian’s anti-Communism, rooted in both his personal experience and in a plausible reading of the politics of his day. It is nonetheless the case that Gurian personally engaged in quite ruthless policing of the acceptable borders of Catholic intellectual production (a policing that Maritain, his longtime friend, regretted). This was an era in which the worker priests were condemned and in which the encyclical Humani generis (1950) put a halt to theological innovation. All of this is understandable, as is the Catholic allergy to high Stalinism. It seems undeniable, though, that Catholic intellectual life was less vibrant in this postwar period than it had been before, and that the fear of Communism was one reason for it (or, more precisely, that anti-Communism, which generated a specific set of principles, was no longer matched with anti-fascism, a distinct tradition).


The third and last major claim of my book is methodological. Catholic Modern presumes that a process as massive as the modernization of the global Church can be usefully studied through a transnational intellectual history, primarily of laypeople, in France, Germany, and Austria. I chose those countries because they are quite diverse and, I think, broadly representative. Catholics in all of these places traveled the path from reactionary Catholicism to Christian Democracy, and they all confronted head-on the most dangerous and violent forms of political mobilization on offer in the twentieth century. My claim is not that every country followed the same path at the same time, but that an attention to these countries gives us a model that can help us understand the transition elsewhere.


There were two objections to this methodological decision. The first is geographical. It is doubtless the case, as Chamedes and Brodie point out, that the inclusion of Spain, Portugal, or Poland would have led to a different and more conservative portrayal. I do not think, though, that this would have led to a ‘truer’ one, or that Madrid provides access to the secret truth of an institution that can only be superficially judged from Lyon, Cologne, or Innsbruck. Just as a focus on Spain would have led to a more conservative portrayal, the inclusion of Belgium, the Netherlands, or the United States might well have led in the opposite direction.[24] The three countries chosen were not islands of progressivism in a sea of Catholic reaction. Two of the three, after all, fell to ostentatiously Catholic dictators who governed with the enthusiastic support of many of their co-religionists (the third, Germany, fell to a lapsed Catholic, which did not seem to much bother his many Catholic supporters there).

Intellectual history always comes with limitations, and both McGreevy and Brodie point out that I make little space in my account for what the former calls the “stuff” of modern Catholicism: schools, devotionals, sainthood, Marian visions, and so on.


This is certainly true. My primary response is simply that one cannot do everything (I did try to incorporate the findings of other historians working along those lines[25]). The relationship between those practices and the political-economic concerns that are my actual subject of analysis are impossible to generalize. Marian apparitions, for instance, can have wildly different meanings in different times and places. Their incorporation into a transnational study of ideas could only be instrumental, so I opted to avoid making them a major component of my analysis. It seems clear that a relationship must exist, and perhaps even a dialectical one that was not apparent to me given my own research strategy and limitations. Brodie, whose expertise is along these lines, suggests that the shifts that took place amongst Catholic intellectuals in the 1930s might not have reached the masses of the laity until the 1940s (responding to the dislocations of war, rather than shifting geopolitics and evolving discourse). This seems like a plausible hypothesis, and one that would complement the analysis in my book.


All three of the reviewers, as should be apparent by now, engaged thoughtfully and intelligently with the book, and I am grateful to them for it. The discussion in this forum lays bare some of the most important debates in the historiography of the modern Catholic Church, and I hope that it allows future students of the theme to situate their own arguments. As a responding author, I am here thrust, rather uncomfortably, into the role of Martin Luther: ‘Here I stand,’ he supposedly declared. ‘I can do no other.’ In this regard, at least, history is not a Protestant discipline. The truth about the Church will emerge, if it ever does, through dialogues like this one. In history, if not in theology, revelation is continuous.



[1] To name only a few recent works in this vein, see Piotr Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and ‘Revolution,’ 1939-1956 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018); Marco Duranti, The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics, and the Origins of the European Convention (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); Darcie Fontaine, Decolonizing Christianity: Religion and the End of Empire in France and Algeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Samuel Moyn, Christian Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); Elizabeth Foster, Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013); John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012).

[2] For example, Hugh McLeod, The Religious Crisis of the 1960s, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), Callum Brown, The Death of Christian Britain: Understanding Secularisation, 1800-2000, (London: Routledge, 2001), Kimba Allie Tichenor, Religious Crisis and Civic Transformation: How Conflicts Over Gender and Sexuality Changed the West German Catholic Church, (Lebanon: Brandeis University Press, 2016).

[3] See Jacques Maritain, Man and the State, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1951) and Human Rights and Natural Law, (New York: Editions de la Maison Francaise, 1942).

[4] Martin Conway, ‘The Rise and Fall of Western Europe's Democratic Age, 1945-1973’, in Contemporary European History 13:1 (2004): 67-88.

[5] Mary Vincent, Spain, 1833-2002: People and State, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 152.

[6] Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945, (London: Penguin Books, 2007 ed.), 227-228.

[7] Mary Vincent, ‘Ungodly Subjects: Protestants in National-Catholic Spain, 1939-53’, in, European History Quarterly 45:1 (2015): 116-123.

[8] Vincent, People and State, 198.

[9] Wolfram Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of the European Union, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

[10] For example, Andreas Kossert, Kalte Heimat: Die Geschichte der deutschen Vertriebenen nach 1945, (Munich: Pantheon Verlag, 2009), 233-236.

[11] For the best overview of German society during the war years, Nicholas Stargardt, The German War: A Nation under Arms 1939-1945, (London: Bodley Head, 2015).

[12] Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003); Saba Mahmood, Religious Difference in a Secular Age: A Minority Report (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015); Samuel Moyn, Christian Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); Elayne Oliphant, “The Crucifix as a Symbol of Secular Europe: The Surprising Semiotics of the European Court of Human Rights,” Anthropology Today 28:2 (2012): 10-12; Mayanthi L. Fernando, The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

[13] John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012); Samuel Moyn, Christian Human Rights (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); Brian Porter-Szücs, Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011);  J.P. Daughton, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism and the Making of French Colonialism 1880-1914, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); Elizabeth Ann Foster, Faith in Empire: Religion, Politics and Colonial Rule in French Senegal, 1880-1940 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013); Piotr Kosicki, Catholics on the Barricades: Poland, France, and ‘Revolution’, 1939-1956 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018). Representative texts in French might include Florian Michel, La Pensée catholique en Amérique du Nord: Reseaux intellectuels et échanges culturels entre l’Europe, Le Canada et les États-Unis (annés 1920-1960) (Paris: Desclée Brouwer, 2010). In Italian, Danielle Menozzi, Sacro Cuore: un culto tra devozione interior e restaurazione chrisiania della società (Rome: Viella, 2001).

[14] See the selection from the prison notebooks included in David Forgacs, ed., An Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings, 1916-1935, (New York: Schocken Books, 1988), 330-331. Also see Gramsci, “The Vatican” (1924);, accessed on 18 July 2018.

[15] Philip Gleason, Keeping the Faith: American Catholicism Past and Present (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1987), 25.

[16] Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002); Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic: The Politics of Mass Consumption in Postwar America (New York: Random House, 2003); Jacqueline Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History 4 (March 2005), 1233-1263.

[17] On Humanae Vitae, the latest evidence from the Vatican archives is in Gilfredo Marengo, La nascita di un’enciclica. Humanae Vitae alla luce degli Archivi Vaticani (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2018). On abortion politics Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

[18] If concordats were designed to pursue old-fashioned religious politics, it is challenging to understand why the Vatican wanted one so badly with the Soviet Union, where such an approach was clearly implausible. There is no reason to believe that the concordats with Italy and Spain reveal the secret truth of concordat policy as a whole. For a balanced appraisal of the Vatican’s conjoined campaigns for concordats and Catholic Action, see John Pollard, The Papacy in the Age of Totalitarianism, 1914-1958 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 220-238. He argues that these campaigns were, essentially, attempts by the Vatican to make their peace with a post-Versailles Europe. For a similar argument, emphasizing the utter pragmatism of the concordats, see Frank J. Coppa, The Policies and Politics of Pope Pius XII: Between Diplomacy and Morality (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), chaps. 4-5.

[19] For studies of Catholic Action in each of the countries under discussion, see Laura S. Gellott, The Catholic Church and the Authoritarian Regime in Austria, 1933-1938 (New York: Garland, 1987); Klaus Große Kracht, Die Stunde der Laien? Katholische Aktion in Deutschland im europäischen Kontext 1920-1960 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2016); Susan B. Whitney, Mobilizing Youth: Communists and Catholics in Interwar France (Durham: Duke University Press, 2009). None of these authors view Catholic Action as an attempt to reinstate clerical politics or Church-state fusion.

[20] Jacques Maritain, Integral Humanism: Temporal and Spiritual Problems of a New Christendom, trans. Joseph Evans (New York: Scribner’s, 1968).

[21] That term stemmed from conservative Catholic circles in fin de siècle Germany, who used it to call for monoconfessional trade unions under clerical leadership. Maritain rejected this in every sense: as a labor strategy, and as indicative of a broader Catholic strategy of defensiveness.

[22] This is a standard reading of Maritain, and not an innovation of mine. See, for instance, James V. Schall, Jacques Maritain: The Philosopher in Society (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998), chap. 6.

[23] This is not my finding alone, but is seconded by the now-considerable literature on Christian Democracy. For a continental perspective, see Wolfram Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of European Union (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007). On individual parties, see, among others, Kristian Buchna, Ein klerikales Jahrzent? Kirche, Konfession und Politik in der Bundesrepublik während der 1950er Jahre (Nomos: Baden-Baden, 2014); Ludwig Reichhold, Geschichte der OeVP (Vienna: Styria, 1975); Isser Woloch, “Left, Right and Centre: The MRP and the Post-War Moment,” French History 21:1 (2007): 85-106.

[24] Brodie asks about the role of Spain for the laity outside of Spain. This is an interesting question, without a simple answer. I would say, though, that the focus was more on the evils of Communism than on the specific virtues of Franco, and that Spain was read as a defensive war against Soviet aggression, rather than an offensive war against liberal modernity. I would also say that it is easy to overestimate the influence of the Spanish Civil War on interwar consciousness. It has since come to stand in for the interwar crisis as a whole but was not always read that way at the time, even by Catholics. I was surprised, for instance, to find that Catholics in France, Germany, and Austria paid as much attention to what was happening in Mexico.

[25] The analysis in chapter one, for instance, is indebted to Patrick Houlihan’s excellent Catholicism and the Great War: Religion and Everyday Life in Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1922 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

From: Giuliana Chamedes

There was a mistake in my review, which I called to the H-Diplo editors' attention
just before publication, and which was noted in James Chappel's response as well.

Jacques Maritain did not advocate states that were "integrally Catholic"; instead
he called for the building of a body politic that was "integrally" or "vitally Christian."
[Jacques Maritain, _Integral Humanism: Temporal and Spiritual Problems of a New
Christendom _(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1973), 167–168.]

Nonetheless, the disagreement between Chappel and myself regarding Maritain's views
as expressed in _Integral Humanism_ remains a substantial one.

Giuliana Chamedes
University of Wisconsin-Madison