Tracing the development of progressive Catholic approaches to political and economic modernization, Catholic Intellectuals and the Challenge of Democracy disputes standard interpretations of the Catholic response to democracy and modernity in the English-speaking world -- particularly the conventional view that the Church was the servant of right-wing reactionaries and authoritarian, patriarchal structures.
Starting with the writings of Bishop Wilhelm von Ketteler of Germany, the Frenchman Frederic Ozanam, and England's Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, whose pioneering work laid the foundation of the Catholic "third way, " Corrin reveals a long tradition within Roman Catholicism that championed social activism. These visionary writers were the forerunners of Pope John XXIII's aggiornamento, a call for Catholics to broaden their historical perspectives and move beyond a static theology fixed to the past.
By examining this often overlooked tradition, Corrin attempts to confront the perception that Catholicism in the modern age has invariably been an institution of reaction that is highly suspicious of liberalism and progressive social reform. Catholic Intellectuals and the Challenge of Democracy charts the efforts of key Catholic intellectuals, primarily in Britain and the United States, who embraced the modern world and endeavored to use the legacies of their faith to form an alternative, pluralistic path that avoided both socialist collectivism and capitalism.
In this sweeping volume, Corrin discusses the influences of Cecil and G. K. Chesterton, H. A. Reinhold, Hilaire Belloc, and many others on the development of Catholic social, economic, and political thought, with a specialfocus on Belloc and Reinhold as representatives of reactionary and progressive positions, respectively. He also provides an in-depth analysis of Catholic Distributists' responses to the labor unrest in Britain prior to World War I and later, in the 1930s, to the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War and the forces of fascism and communism.
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