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By Ulrich L. Lehner

"Whoever wishes an act of religion to explain an occasion that may be defined by way of cause is a idiot, and unworthy of moderate thought." This line, spoken through the infamous 18th-century libertine Giacomo Casanova, illustrates a deeply entrenched belief of faith, as ordinary at the present time because it was once enormous quantities 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 could actually come as a shock, then, to profit that Casanova himself was once 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 somebody. Their tale opens new pathways for figuring out how religion and modernity can have interaction in our personal time.

Lehner starts 2 hundred years earlier than 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, similar to larger schooling for pastors, extra liberal principles in regards to the roles of girls, and an emphasis on human freedom as a serious characteristic of theology. those activities shaped the root of the Enlightenment's trust in person freedom. whereas giants like Spinoza, Locke, and Voltaire turned probably 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 accrued ever extra energy and the Catholic Enlightenment was once snuffed out. It was once now not 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 limits of Catholicism even additional, and Catholics once more grapple with those questions, this publication will end up to be required reading.

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