Church and Revolution

Church and Revolution

by Thomas Bokenkotter
     
 

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Though sometimes a source of controversy regarding certain issues, the Catholic Church has in many ways lead the struggle for social justice and rights for the poor in our age. Pope John Paul II never lets an opportunity pass without insisting on the need for greater respect for human rights and the need to alleviate the pains of poverty. In the United States the… See more details below

Overview

Though sometimes a source of controversy regarding certain issues, the Catholic Church has in many ways lead the struggle for social justice and rights for the poor in our age. Pope John Paul II never lets an opportunity pass without insisting on the need for greater respect for human rights and the need to alleviate the pains of poverty. In the United States the Catholic Church is the single largest private organization providing assistance to the underprivileged--operating soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless, providing care for the sick, and education for the needy.



But this struggle was not always a top priority. In fact, at the time of the French Revolution the Catholic Church was among the most conservative and reactionary of the world's powers. Church and Revolution deals with the interesting historical question: How did the Catholic Church develop from being a defender of the status quo to being a progressive force in world affairs? Thomas Bokenkotter traces the development of social justice in the Church over the 200 years since the French Revolution through portraits of fifteen colorful figures who were all key to the political revolutions of the past two centuries and who also effected the Church's response to them--including Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero; Irish emancipator Daniel O'Connell; founder of the American Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day; and Polish electrician and President, Lech Walesa.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Patrick Allitt
...[A] bundle of reports on the author's wide range of reading in modern history.
Books & Culture: A Christian Review
Library Journal
Beginning with a chapter on the French Revolution, Bokenkotter (Concise History of the Catholic Church) traces the development of Roman Catholic social thought as it was transformed from a reactionary conservatism to something much more progressive by the middle of the 20th century. Focusing on the many historical figures who influenced these changes--Daniel O'Connell, Frederick Ozanam, Bishop Henry Edward Manning, Albert de Mun, Don Sturzo, Michael Collins, Jacques Maritain, Dorothy Day, Oscar Romero, Lech Walesa, and others--Bokenkotter explores the embodiment of social ideals. In addition, he analyzes some secular movements--from Marxism to philosophical personalism--that contributed, negatively or positively, to the development of Catholic social conscience. -- Carolyn M. Craft, Longwood College, Farmville, Virginia
Kirkus Reviews
An ambitious but disjointed exploration of social justice in the Catholic Church. How did the Roman Catholic Church, which before the French Revolution was one of the world's most conservative (and landed) institutions, become the 20th century's most vocal advocate for the poor? This is the opening question of Bokenkotter's new book (he's the author of Essential Catholicism). His approach differs slightly from more traditional examinations of Catholicism's social transformations; he narrows his lens to individual activists who have pushed the Church to this relatively new stance for human rights. The book adopts a roughly chronological approach, profiling more than a dozen Catholic activists, such as Italy's Don Sturzo, an outspoken opponent of Mussolini; Michael Collins and the Irish quest for independence; and America's own Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker movement. At its best, this multibiography format is so broadly based that it offers a rudimentary introduction to the history of modern Western civilization. At its worst, the collection suffers from chaos, with biographical tidbits referring only tangentially to Catholicism and even less to other chapters. Bokenkotter's biographical sketches are impressively researched in secondary sources but neglect primary investigations into these thinkers' complex intellectual development. Then, too, the book ends abruptly with Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement for Polish workers. There is no conclusion to tie the tome's many disparate threads together, no effort to analyze some of its lingering questions: what intellectual and religious commitments link these very different activists to one another? In whatdirections might the Church have headed without them? Would Vatican II, for example, have ever occurred? Why is violence embraced by some justice activists and eschewed by others, like Day? This is valuable for its short biographical sketches, but its disunity leaves the reader wishing for more intellectual meat.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307874863
Publisher:
The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/19/2010
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
596
Sales rank:
1,315,497
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Thomas Bokenkotter is the author of the bestselling A Concise History of the Catholic Church. With a doctorate in history (Louvain University) he teaches at Xavier University in Cincinnati. He is also the pastor of Assumption Church there and is active in the social ministry, running a soup kitchen that he founded twenty years ago and a transitional living facility for homeless women and children.

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