Home » Catholic Modern

Catholic Modern

My first and only book, which appeared in the Spring of 2018, can be ordered here. The book is an intellectual history of European Catholicism from 1920-1970, asking how, when, and why the Catholic Church became “modern”: how, that is, Catholics came to accept the modern world of Church-state separation, religious freedom, and human rights. The answer turns out to involve much more than abstract questions of rights or statehood. The process of modernization involved a complex set of new Catholic ideas about the Church, the economy, the family, the Jews, and the state. It turns out, too, to have happened in multiple ways. There is no single “Catholic modern,” but several: specifically, the book unearths a conservative, anti-Communist form of Catholic modernism and a more radical antifascist alternative. Both, I argue, were legitimate updatings of the long Catholic tradition, and the contest between the two does much to explain the shape of the Church today.


Reviews so far: Choice; Publisher’s WeeklyTimes Higher Education; Commonweal; H-Soz-Kult <in German>;Catholic Herald; LA Review of Books; Boston Review; Church Times; Australian Journal of Politics and History; Political Theology; Modern and Contemporary FranceJournal of Religious HistoryThe Catholic ThingMayéutica <in Spanish>; Suma <in Polish>; Ricerche di storia politica <in Italian>; Storicamente <in Italian>; Histoire sociale; Christian Century Humanitas <in Spanish>; Europe Now; Church History; Chronicles; The Nation; Tui Moto; Contemporary European History; Horizons; American Historical Review; Central European History; First Things; Journal of Modern History

For a set of three further reviews and my own response, see this forum at H-Diplo.

Listen to interviews about the book with Hillary Kaell (New Books Network) and Scott Jones (Give & Take) and read one with Pete Cajka (“Religion in American History” blog)

I have written short introductions to the book’s themes for The Immanent Frame and Aeon. An analysis and summary of the book can also be found in a series of blog posts at Patheos.

The book is the recipient of the Smith Award in European History, given by the Southern Historical Association, and has been shortlisted for the Laura Shannon Prize.