By Ulrich L. Lehner
"Whoever wishes an act of religion to clarify an occasion that may be defined by means of cause is a idiot, and unworthy of moderate thought." This line, spoken by way of the infamous 18th-century libertine Giacomo Casanova, illustrates a deeply entrenched conception of faith, as widespread this present day because it used to be hundreds of thousands of years in the past. it's the sentiment at the back of the narrative that Catholic ideals have been incompatible with the Enlightenment beliefs. Catholics, many declare, are superstitious and standard, against democracy and gender equality, and adverse to technological know-how. it might probably come as a shock, then, to profit that Casanova himself used to be a Catholic. In The Catholic Enlightenment, Ulrich L. Lehner issues to such figures as representatives of a long-overlooked thread of a reform-minded Catholicism, which engaged Enlightenment beliefs with as a lot fervor and highbrow gravity as someone. Their tale opens new pathways for realizing how religion and modernity can engage in our personal time.
Lehner starts 2 hundred years prior to the Enlightenment, whilst the Protestant Reformation destroyed the hegemony Catholicism had loved for hundreds of years. in this time the Catholic Church instituted numerous reforms, equivalent to greater schooling for pastors, extra liberal rules in regards to the roles of ladies, and an emphasis on human freedom as a severe function of theology. those activities shaped the root of the Enlightenment's trust in person freedom. whereas giants like Spinoza, Locke, and Voltaire grew to become one of the most influential voices of the time, Catholic Enlighteners have been correct along them. They denounced fanaticism, superstition, and prejudice as irreconcilable with the Enlightenment time table.
In 1789, the French Revolution dealt a devastating blow to their reason, disillusioning many Catholics opposed to the assumption of modernization. Popes amassed ever extra energy and the Catholic Enlightenment used to be snuffed out. It used to be no longer till the second one Vatican Council in 1962 that questions of Catholicism's compatibility with modernity will be broached back.
Ulrich L. Lehner tells, for the 1st time, the forgotten tale of those reform-minded Catholics. As Pope Francis pushes the bounds of Catholicism even additional, and Catholics once more grapple with those questions, this booklet will turn out to be required reading.