Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia

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Newsletter- August-September 1999- Vol.V, no. 8-9


Dear Friends
Greetings to all those of you who are just now in the process of beginning
another academic year, and my very best wishes for the success of your
endeavours, especially in the field of contemporary church history.
Contents: 1) Book reviews:
a) 3 books on the Vatican
Chadwick, O'Brien, Luxmoore
b) Muller-Rolli, Evang.Schulpolitik
2) Book notes
3) Dissertation abstract: Roisin Healey
1a) Owen Chadwick, A History of the Popes 1830-1914, (Oxford History of the
Christian Church) Oxford: Clarendon Press 1998, 614pp.
Darcy O'Brien, The Hidden Pope. The Untold Story of a Lifelong Friendship
that is changing the relationship between Catholics and Jews. The personal
journey of John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger. New York: Daybreak Books 1998, 406
Jonathan Luxmorre and Jolanta Babiuch, The Vatican and the Red Flag. The
struggle for the soul of eastern Europe. London: Geoffrey Chapman 1999.
351pp. ISBN 0-225-66772-X
Sir Owen Chadwick is the doyen of British ecclesiastical historians. His
magisterial narrative histories and his sprightly ecclesiastical biographies
have earned him world-wide respect. This latest history of the
nineteenth-century Popes will only enhance this reputation. His command of
the sources is masterly. His explication of the problems and dilemmas, both
theological and political, confronting the Papacy provides a valuable guide
to English-speaking (and presumably largely non-Catholic) readers. His
portraits of the Popes are sympathetic but not uncritical. Even for such
obstreperous autocrats as Pius IX, he can find arguments to dissuade one
from condemnation. Above all he has a sense of the value of the institution
and the need to see the developments of history from its age-long
vantage-point. This makes for a distinguished and, for an Anglican, unique
He rightly centres his account of the reign of Pius IX on the horrendous
anguish caused by the loss of the Papal States. Their recovery was Pius'
main priority. Yet he was militarily impotent to protect his realm. He
believed he could substitute spiritual power to achieve the same end. Most
of the condemnations of the 1864 Syllabus or Errors, and the dogmatic
assertions of Papal Infallibility in 1870, were designed to demolish the
anticlerical forces, especially in the Kingdom of Italy, which had so
wantonly seized the papal lands. "The prisoner of the Vatican" appealed for
world-wide sympathy, seeing himself as the bastion of civilisation against
the rising onslaught of liberal revolution and its attendant destructive
ideas. All of which Chadwick knows was wrong-headed, but nonetheless shares
some sympathy with the stalwart defenders of the past.
The problem of Italy and the Vatican enclave remained unresolved until 1929.
But Chadwick shows that already Leo XIII was beginning to realise that the
absence of physical power could be an advantage to a universal church. By
the end of the century, other issues began to loom larger. Here is
Chadwick's summary:
"The Church was in conflict with the modern world. Everyone admitted it.
Popes made the conflict a matter of faith. Laymen and laywomen who thought
themselves modern despised the Church as behind the times. Was this gulf
necessary? Was it needful for the Church to despise the world in order to
gain its soul? . . If churchman conformed their faith to the axioms of
contemporary fashion, there would soon be not much of a Church. The
conservatives argued thus: we may admit that the Church is always in need of
reform. But ordinary men and women need not to be disturbed in their faith
and way or worship.
The opposite viewpoint argued thus: . . was it a necessary consequence of a
theory of evolution that faith in God the Creator be denied? At least there
should be liberty to enquire." (p.348)
But the dilemma continued unabated. Leo's successor, Pius X was "a simple,
conservative pastor, who could not understand what was happening" but who
"had to be admired because his sense of right was such that he cared nothing
for the practical." He and the Curia believed in the doctrine of the
slippery slope. Any opening of the doors to critical enquiry, whether of
systematic or biblical theology, would lead to the proliferation of
unsubstantiated radical ideas, and confuse the faithful irrevocably. Those
who propagated such heresies, like Loisy or Tyrrell, had to be ejected, lest
they give comfort to the Church's enemies. Chadwick rightly asks whether in
the long run the suppression of such enquirers did not do more damage. The
same can be said for the notorious papal bull Apostolicae curiae of 1896
which condemned the validity of Anglican orders (including Chadwick's own!)
Here he argues that the condemnation which so much hurt relations between
Rome and Canterbury (and is still in force) was due to intrigues in the
Vatican, and to the Roman tradition of rejecting new insights. "The bull was
a supreme example of self-contradictory policy in Rome. It was a sign that
the Pope was ageing. In 1896 he was 86 years old".
Chadwick stands in the tradition of his predecessors as Regius Professor of
Modern History, Lord Acton. He deplores tyranny and exalts freedom of
enquiry. But at the same time, his strength is that he sees - and convinces
his readers to see - the vastly complex intertwining of the problems each
Pope had to confront daily. How to deal with hostile government, how to
assert Papal rights, how to protect the faithful, how to arouse consciences
against evil - all are on the agenda and overlap with one another. Prudence
and cautious conservatism are inevitably the result. And while continuity
was ensured during this period by the remarkable longevity of these Popes,
the sudden urge at the next conclave to have a different kind of Pope did
not necessarily improve matters. Chadwick paints a wonderfully rich picture
of the life of the Church, warts and all. It is all immensely rewarding for
the reader. Here is both a stimulating depiction of the rich cast of
ecclesiastical characters, and a thoughtful exploration through the thickets
of controversies which still have much to teach us today.
Darcy O'Brien is an accomplished journalist who tells the story of two young
Poles, one Catholic, one Jewish, the former destined to become Pope, and the
latter to escape the Holocaust by fleeing to Russia and the Middle East and
later to become a business man in Rome. After many years the two were
reunited and enjoy their close friendship again. Using extensive interviews,
family records and photographs, O'Brien reconstructs, in a highly positive
light, this life-long relationship with sparkle and humour. He also seeks to
interweave the theme of Christian-Jewish relations by claiming that this
particular friendship was a significant factor in John Paul II's thinking.
It was this friendship, he believes, which led to the Pope's historic
determination to overthrow the traditional Catholic hostilities of the past
and to encourage a wholly new era of reconciliation and trust between
Catholics and Jews.
This gives O'Brien the opportunity to review the steps taken over the past
twenty years to achieve this goal. He pays tribute to John Paul's undoubted
tenacity and outlines the numerous political and theological obstacles to be
overcome. Such formidably intractable problems as the diplomatic recognition
of the State of Israel or the sad recriminations over the Convent at
Auschwitz are here ably discussed, and tributes dutifully paid. An
encouraging story.
Jonathan Luxmoore and Jolanta Babiuch are British Catholic journalists who
saw the disintegration of the Soviet Empire in eastern Europe as an
opportunity to survey the seventy year history of how the Vatican and the
Catholic Church responded to the Marxist political and ideological system.
They go on to claim that the role of the Papacy, especially of John Paul II,
was a significant factor in its overthrow.
Their account covers the political and diplomatic activities of the Catholic
Church in eastern Europe since 1945 - with only a barest reference to
theological developments. Their basic argument is that, during the reign of
Pius XII, the Church was on the defensive, pessimistically trying to save
what was left of the old aristocratic Catholic civilisation of the past. At
the same time the Church was confronted with the aggressive dogmatism of
militant Communists from East Berlin to Peking, which made the confrontation
ever sharper. But from 1960 the climate changed. Pope John XXIII was a more
attractive character. The Second Vatican Council called for a more positive
relationship with the modern world. And the Communists abandoned their ideas
of extirpating Christianity. Instead they concentrated on the exercise of
power, though events such as the Berlin Wall or the invasion of
Czechoslovakia destroyed much of their credibility.
The way was open, the authors believe, for a new approach by the Church to
appeal to the souls of eastern Europe through the pursuit of idealism,
particularly the ideals of democracy, free enquiry and human rights. Instead
of strident condemnation of Marxist theories, the church leaders sought an
evolutionary path of accommodation in order to put forward their own goals.
This involved a complicated pattern of advances and retreats, which are here
amply described. Most notably, this change can be seen in the career of
Karol Woytila, who is the hero of this book. His energy and influence, they
believe, was crucial to the success of the Polish challenge to Soviet
domination, and his pragmatic readiness for dialogue was a significant
factor in ending repression throughout the whole region.
These authors follow much the same path already traced out by Hans-Jakob
Stehle, the veteran correspondent in Rome of the German newspaper, Die Zeit.
His account of the Eastern Policies of the Vatican first appeared twenty
years ago, was translated into English, and has since been revised and
updated in 1993. But like Stehle, Luxmoore and Babiuch were not given access
to the Vatican's files. They are therefore dependent on secondary works, as
outlined in the excellent bibliography. Yet caution is here called for.
Since the Papacy is newsworthy, there are innumerable correspondents
attached to, and observing, the Vatican. Often not much happens. But
journalists must justify their existence. Consequently speculative accounts
abound. Even these authors' mentor, the late Peter Hebblethwaite, was not
immune to the temptation to speculate where nothing certain could be
ascertained. On the whole, Luxmoore and Babiuch are reliable in their
commentaries, especially of the successive Papal statements. But, until the
archives are open, these accounts must remain provisional. In the meantime,
this survey, together with Stehle's account, is a good summary of the
progressive political stances of the present Pope. It was, they say, a long
march of hope. And it came to a climax in those spectacular visits John Paul
II has paid to his homeland. Here, the authors contend, is the incarnation
of the modern Catholic witness, aware certainly of the burden of history and
of the uncertainty of all human endeavour, but nonetheless presenting a
message of inspiration to captivate the souls of modern men and women.
b) Sebastian Mueller-Rolli, Evangelische Schulpolitik in Deutschland
1918-1958. Dokumente und Darstellung. Unter Mitarbeit von Reiner Anselm und
einem Nachwort von K.E.Nipkow. Veroff. d. Comenius-Inst. Muenster
Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1999 791pp Cloth DM 148.
Bildungs- und Schulpolitik steht bis heute nicht nur in der Bundesrepublik
Deutschland im Licht oeffentlichen Interesses, weil der Ausbildung des
Nachwuchses grosse Bedeutung fuer die Gestaltung der Zukunft beigemessen
wird. An dieser Diskussion nehmen die grossen Kirchen und
Religionsgemeinschaften regen Anteil. Um so mehr ueberrascht es, dass ein en
Geschichte der Schulpolitik der evangelischen Kirchen im 20 Jahrhundert noch
aussteht. Waehrend es zur Geschichte der Religionspeaedagogik - auch im
"Dritten Reich" - verschiedene Arbeiten gibt, besteht fuer die
protestantantische Schulpolitik eine gravierende Luecke. Daher ist es
besonders erfreulich, dass jetzt Mueller-Rolli eine Dokumentation mit
zusammenhaengender Interpretation ersetllt hat.
Die 1919 Trennung von Staat und Kirche bedeutete einen wesentlichen
Einschnitt in der deutschen Schulgeschichte. So wurde der in der Verfassung
fesgeschriebene Religionsunterricht nunmehr Teil der gemeinsamen
Bildungsverantwortung von Staat und Kirche. Die Schulpolitik, vor allem die
Auseinandersetzung um die Konfessionsschule, bestimmte noch bis in die
sechziger Jahre das Verhaeltnis von Staat und Kirche nachhaltig.
Die hier vorgelegte Quellensammlung dokumentiert die Beziehungen zwischen
Staat und evangelischer Kirche im Bereich des Volksschulwesens in der ersten
Haelfte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Sie konzentriert sich auf die sechs
Brennpunkte: 1918-21: Jahre der Konfrontation - Schulpolitik in der
Republik, 1936: Innere Zerissenheit - Schulpolitik im Kirchenkampf,
1941-144: Schulpolitische Vorstellungen in den Widerstandskreisen, 1945-48:
Regionale Eigendynamik unter allierter Kontrolle, 1948-9: Die Schulfrage in
den Beratungen des Grundgesetzes und 1958: Die Schulfrage auf der Berliner
Synode der Evangleischen Kirche in Deutschland (EKD). Jedem Kapitel ist ein
einordnender Text vorangestellt, der die Entscheidungsprozesse und
Argumentationsmuster herausarbeitet, einen Ueberblick ueber die abgedruckten
Dokumente und Hinweise auf weiterfuehrende Literatur gibt. Sofern es
erforderlich ist, werden einzelne Quellen noch eigens erlaeutert.
Die 95 in chronologischer Reihenfolge abgedruckten Dokumente sind sehr
heterogen und umfassende Erlasse, Verlautbarungen, Anweisungen,
programmatische Texte, Reden (geheime) Denkschriften, Schriftwechsel und
Berichte aus dem Alltag. Sie reichen vom Erlass des preussischen Ministers
fuer Wissenschaft, Kunst und Volksbildung ueber den Religionsunterricht vom
29. November 1918 bis zum Wort zur Schulfrage der Synode der EKD vom 30.
April 1958, in dem sich die Evangelische Kirche zu einem "freien Dienst an
einer freien Schule" verpflichtete. Sie verstand und versteht ihre
Mitwirkung am Bildungssystem als Dienst an den einzelnen Kindern und
Jugendlichen im Blick auf ihre individuelle Bildung und als Dienst am
Gemeinwesen im Rahmen einer grundlegenden, zeitgemaessen allgemeinen
Bildung. Damit kam der schulpolitische Selbstklaerungsprozess innerhalb des
Protestantismus nach der Verabschiedung der Verfassungen und Schulgesetze in
den Laendern der Bundesrepublik und der sich als landfristig abzeichnenden
Teilung Deutschlands zum Erliegen.
Ein umfangreiches Nachwort "Die gefaehrdete Freiheit in Schule und Kirche"
von Karl Ernst Nipkow (pp 720-33) skizziert die Entwicklung von den
fuenziger Jahren bis zur Gegenwart.
Muller-Rolli stellt einleitend klar, dass nicht alle Landeskirchen
gleichgewichtig behandelt werden. Besonders beruecksichtigt wurden aufgrund
ihres ueberregionalen Engagements Bayern und Baden-Wuerttemberg. Leider ist
diese Auswahl problematisch. Fuer das Gesamtbild waere ein Blick auf die
Hamburger Landeskirche bereichernd, um die evangelische Schulpolitik im
Angesicht von Entkirchlichung und gesellschaftlicher Modernisierung am
Beispiel einer Millionenstadt augzuzeigen.
Ergaenzungsbeduerftig ist auch das Literaturverzeichnis am Ende des Bandes,
das etliche fuer das Thema wichtige Titel, insbesondere neuere biographische
Arbeiten ueber zentrale Personen wie Otto Dibelius, Klara Hunsche, Helmuth
Kittel und Walter Uhsadel, oder die Studie von Ludwig Richter ueber Kirche
und Schule in den Beraturngen der Weimarer Nationalversammlung (Duesseldorf
1996), vermissen laesst.
Erschlossen wird das voluminoese Buch durch ein auch als Nachschlagewerk
nuetzliches Personenregister mit biographische Angaben. So ist - trotz der
kritischen Bemerkungen - ein sehr verdienstvolles Werk entstanden, dass
hoffentlich weitere Arbeiten zum Bereich Kirche und Bildung/Schule nach sich
ziehen wird.
Reiner Hering, Staatsarchiv Hamburg
2) Book notes:
a) Frank J.Coppa, ed., Controversial Concordats: The Vatican's relations
with Napoleon, Mussolini and Hitler. Washington, D.C.:Catholic University of
America Press. 1998.
(to be reviewed here shortly)
b) John Pollard, The Unknown Pope: Benedict XV (1914-1922) and the pursuit
of Peace 1914-1922. London Cassell 1999.
A fine examination of the diplomatic papers recently released.
c) Karl-Hermann Kandler, Die Rolle der ev.-luth.Kirche in Freiberg waehrend
der "Wende" 1989-90. Freiberg 1996.
One of the pastors involved has compiled this vivid account of events in
this town in southern Saxony during the overthrow of the former communist
regime. He makes use not only of the church's records but also those of the
municipal authorities, which took a consistently pejorative view of the
church members. Kandler endorses the opinion that the church's role in
bringing about the end of the regime was hardly revolutionary, but certainly
played its part in mobilizing public opinion against the misdeeds of their
former rulers.
d) When Night Fell, An Anthology of Holocaust Short Stories, edited by Linda
Raphael and Marc Raphael. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press 1999
This is the first anthology of short stories drawn from the Holocaust
experience, and is intended for teaching purposes. Several well-known
authors are here included, as well as unknowns. Given the nature of the
subject, there is surprising variety to be found,.though the mournful
reverent tone is prevalent throughout.
3) Roisin Healy, Dissertation Abstract: The Jesuits as enemy: anti-Jesuitism
and the Protestant bourgeoisie of Imperial Germany, 1890-1917.
This dissertation addresses the reasons for the strength of anti-Jesuit
feeling in Imperial Germany. While more intense in previous centuries,
anti-Jesuitism was sufficiently strong after the unification of Germany in
1871 to bring about the expulsion of Jesuits in the Jesuit Law of 1872. This
was one of the many laws passed against clerical authority and Catholic
institutions during the Kulturkampf. But this law did not benefit from the
subsequent thaw in church-state relations in the 1880s and remained in force
until 1917. The main agents of anti-Jesuitism were men of the liberal
Protestant bourgeoisie. Jesuitism represented all they rejected -
clericalism, internationalism,.and irrationality. Anti-Jesuits used their
criticism of the order to emphasise their own commitment to the German
nation, to individual autonomy, and to reason. In exaggerating the power of
their enemies, anti-Jesuits revealed a lack of confidence in the liberal
Protestant tradition, especially its capacity to find a balance between
authority and autonomy, which would be as effective as the Jesuits' model of
absolute obedience.
Using both government documents and pamphlet literature, this dissertation
combines an account of the Jesuit Law with an investigation of
anti-Jesuitism in its social, political and cultural context. Organised in
the Protestant League, Protestant churches, and liberal political parties,
anti-Jesuits campaigned intensively against the readmission of Jesuits after
1890, when Catholics, inspired by the collapse of the anti-Socialist Law,
reasserted their opposition to the Jesuit Law. Anti-Jesuits drew on an
existing canon of charges against the Jesuits to make their case. They found
least support among socialists and conservative Protestants.
Socialists sympathised with Catholics as another persecuted minority. Some
conservative Protestants felt closer on theological or political grounds to
Catholics than to liberal Protestants. The Reichstag passed repeal bills
repeatedly, but the Bundesrat refused to endorse them on the grounds of the
Protestants' strong opposition. The federal government pushed through repeal
in 1917 as an effort to boost wartime morale among Catholics.
This work testifies to the importance of confession in molding cultural
values and political convictions in Imperial Germany. It confirms that
growing realisation among German historians that liberalism cannot be
equated with tolerance. Rather, liberalism's strength grew by excluding
Catholics and others. Finally this dissertation stresses the role of "hate
propaganda" in modern political culture. The dangers implicit in its use
were clear, even if the progression to physical violence was not a necessary
or inevitable consequence.

John S.Conway
website for Index:
website for biographical information and research interests: hte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht, Vol 49, no7/8, July