Leuven University Press

  • The changing attitude of Catholic culture towards modernity.
    After decades of a problematic, if not plainly hostile, approach to modernity by Catholic culture, the 1960s marked the beginning of a new era. As the Church employed a more positive approach to the world, voices in the Catholic milieu embraced a radical perspective, channeling the need for social justice for the poor and the oppressed. The alternative and complementary world views of 'universalism' and 'liberation' would drive the engagement of Catholics for generations to come, shaping the idea of international community in Catholic culture. Because of its traditional connection with the papacy and because of its prominent role in the map of European progressive Catholicism, Italy stands out as an ideal case study to follow these dynamics. By locating the Italian scenario in a broader geographical frame, Universalism and Liberation offers a new vantage point from which to investigate the social and political relevance of religion in an age of crisis.

  • The construction of gender in Belgian Catholicism.
    Although women were called the 'pious sex' much earlier, it was during the nineteenth century, when the differences between men and women were being made more explicit, that an intense bond between women and religion was developed. Religiosity was thought to be a 'natural' part of femininity and turned religious masculinity into an oddity. This clear-cut gender ideology, however, remains an ideology (prescribed and contested) that needs to be put in the perspective of its context of origin, the bourgeois milieu. How were these gender identities constructed and by whom?

    With this volume Van Osselaer seeks to clarify how the gender differentiation was created among Belgian Catholics. She brings to light the extent to which religiosity was inscribed in these constructions and how religious teachings contributed to it. It is clear that the limitations of the 'feminization' thesis, a master narrative that has strongly contributed to the introduction of women in religious history, have gradually become more visible. Documenting pastoral care, the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Catholic Action, The Pious Sex offers critical commentaries on the master narratives, suggesting that even men could belong to a 'pious sex'.

  • Christian ideas on family, religion, and the home in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
    The cult of domesticity has often been linked to the privatization of religion and the idealisation of the motherly ideal of the 'angel in the house'. This book revisits the Christian home of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and sheds new light on the stereotypical distinction between the private and public spheres and their inhabitants. Emphasizing the importance of patriarchal domesticity during the period and the frequent blurring of boundaries between the Christian home and modern society, the case studies included in this volume call for a more nuanced understanding of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Christian ideas on family, religion, and the home.

  • The waning influence of the Catholic church in the ethical and political debate.
    For centuries the Catholic Church was able to impose her ethical rules in matters related to the intimate, that is, questions concerning life (from its beginning until its end) and the family, in the so-called Catholic countries in Western Europe. When the polity started to introduce legislation that was in opposition to the Catholic ethic, the ecclesiastical authorities and part of the population reacted. The media reported massive manifestations in France against same-sex marriages and in Spain against the de-penalization of abortion. In Italy the Episcopal conference entered the political field in opposition to the relaxation of several restrictive legal rules concerning medically assisted procreation and exhorted the voters to abstain from voting so that the referendum did not obtain the necessary quorum. In Portugal, to the contrary, the Church made a "pact" with the prime minister so that the law on same-sex marriages did not include the possibility of adoption. And in Belgium the Episcopal conference limited its actions to clearly expressing with religious, legal, and anthropological arguments its opposition to such laws, which all other Episcopal conferences did also.

    In this book, the authors analyse the full spectrum of the issue, including the emergence of such laws; the political discussions; the standpoints defended in the media by professionals, ethicists, and politicians; the votes in the parliaments; the political interventions of the Episcopal conferences; and the attitude of professionals. As a result the reader understands what was at stake and the differences in actions of the various Episcopal conferences. The authors also analyse the pro and con evaluations among the civil population of such actions by the Church. Finally, in a comparative synthesis, they discuss the public positions taken by Pope Francis to evaluate if a change in Church policy might be possible in the near future.

    Research by GERICR (Groupe européen de recherche interdisciplinaire sur le changement religieux), a European interdisciplinary research group studying religious changes coordinated by Alfonso Pérez-Agote.

    Céline Béraud (Université de Caen), Karel Dobbelaere (KU Leuven/University of Antwerp), Annalisa Frisina (Università degli Studi di Padova), Franco Garelli (Università degli Studi di Torino), Antonio Montañés (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), Maria João Oliveira (University of Porto), Enzo Pace (Università degli Studi di Padova), Alfonso Pérez-Agote (University Complutense of Madrid), Philippe Portier (École pratique des hautes études, Paris-Sorbonne), Jose Santiago (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), Roberto Francesco Scalon (Università degli Studi di Torino), Helena Vilaça (University of Porto), Liliane Voyé (Université Catholique de Louvain)

  • Science as an instrument to justify religious missions in secular society.
    The relationship between religion and science is complex and continues to be a topical issue. However, it is seldom zoomed in on from both Protestant and Catholic perspectives. By doing so the contributing authors in this collection gain new insights into the origin and development of missiology. Missiology is described in this book as a "project of modernity," a contemporary form of apologetics. "Scientific apologetics" was the way to justify missions in a society that was rapidly becoming secularized.
    Mission & Science deals with the interaction between new scientific disciplines (historiography, geography, ethnology, anthropology, linguistics) and new scientific insights (Darwin's evolutionary theory, heliocentrism), as well as the role of the papacy and what inspired missionary practice (first in China and the Far East and later in Africa). The renewed missiology has in turn influenced the missionary practice of the twentieth century, guided by apostolic policy. Some "missionary scholars" have even had a significant influence on the scientific discourse of their time.

    La relation entre religion et science a beau être complexe et toujours actuelle, protestants et catholiques s'étaient rarement penchés sur le sujet. En se livrant à l'exercice dans ce livre, les auteurs ont fait de nouvelles découvertes sur la naissance et le développement de la missiologie. Celle-ci est décrite dans l'ouvrage comme un « projet de modernité », une forme contemporaine d'apologétique. Cette « apologétique scientifique » était le moyen par excellence de justifier l'existence des missions.
    Cette publication aborde tant l'interaction avec les nouvelles disciplines scientifiques (historiographie, géographie, ethnologie, anthropologie, linguistique) et les nouvelles théories scientifiques (évolutionnisme de Darwin, héliocentrisme) que le rôle de la papauté et l'inspiration de la pratique missionnaire (d'abord en Chine et en Extrême-Orient, puis en Afrique). Cette missiologie « enrichie » a à son tour agi sur la pratique missiologique du XXe siècle, soutenue dans cette voie par la politique apostolique. Certains « missionnaires savants » ont même influencé de manière remarquable le discours scientifique de leur époque.

    Giancarlo Collet (University of Münster), Neil Collins (Missionary Society of St. Columban), Mariano Delgado (Université de Fribourg), Norman Etherington (University of Western Australia), Patrick Harries (Universität Basel), Jan A.B. Jongeneel (Universiteit Utrecht), Philippe Laburthe-Tolra (Université de Paris V Sorbonne), Eugène Lapointe (Université Saint-Paul Ottawa), Magnus Lundberg (Uppsala University), David Neuhold (Université de Fribourg), Peter Nissen (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen), Armin Owzar (Université de Paris 3), Olivier Rota (Université d'Artois), Marc Spindler (Universiteit Leiden), Jan van Butselaar (Protestantse Kerk in Nederland), An Vandenberghe (Zorgbedrijf OCMW Antwerpen), Dirk Van Overmeire (KADOC-KU Leuven), Frans J. Verstraelen (State University of Zimbabwe), Laurick Zerbini (Université Lyon 2), Jean-François Zorn (Institut Protestant de Théologie-Faculté de Montpellier).

  • The attraction and repulsion between the Roman Catholic Church and modernity in Europe between 1750 and 2000.
    Emiel Lamberts (1941), professor emeritus of contemporary history at KU Leuven, is an international expert in the political and religious history of Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    His work and the central themes in his research are the starting point in World Views and Worldly Wisdom. No less than eighteen leading international researchers put different aspects of his work in the spotlight. A recurring theme, however, is the attraction and repulsion between the Roman Catholic Church and modernity in Europe between 1750 and 2000.

    The ambivalent relationship with modernity is therefore the leitmotiv of the first part of this volume, whereas the second part focuses on the repositioning of the Church and the tensions between religion, ideology and politics. In this way the volume reflects Lamberts's fascination for the history of political institutions as well as his research on Christian democracy. The contributions address - in a comparative way and from a transatlantic viewpoint - this broad period of time in history, which gave rise to different social movements and different models of society in Belgium and elsewhere.

    Winfried Becker (Universität Passau), Bruno Béthouart (Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale), Hans Blom (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Alfredo Canavero (Università degli Studi di Milano), Philippe Chenaux (Pontificia Università Lateranense, Roma), Andrea Ciampani (LUMSA, Roma), Jo Deferme (KU Leuven), Jan De Maeyer (KADOC KU Leuven), Henk De Smaele (Universiteit Antwerpen), Carine Dujardin (KADOC KU Leuven), Jean-Dominique Durand (Université Lyon 3), Michael Gehler (Jean Monnet Chair, Universität Hildesheim - Institut für Neuzeit- und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Wien), Susana Monreal (Universidad Católica del Uruguay), Patrick Pasture (KU Leuven), Patrick M.W. Taveirne (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), Peter Van Kemseke (Europese Commissie, KU Leuven), Vincent Viaene (Attaché bij het Huis van Koning Filip), Els Witte (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

  • A panoramic picture of international politics and the formation of the modern State. The opposition to the omnipotence of the State - as symbolised by Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651) - had a significant impact on the political organisation of European society. A liberal strategy intended to provide a protective legal status for individual citizens, whereas a social strategy aimed to strengthen the social fabric to counterbalance the power of the State. Gradually both strategies became interwoven. The Struggle with Leviathan pays special attention to the social strategy, developed by conservative and ecclesiastical circles against the omnipotence of the State, and is structured around the fascinating biography of the Austrian diplomat Gustav von Blome, a grandson of Metternich and an important opponent of Bismarck. He proved to be a transitional figure between aristocratic conservatism and Christian democracy, which had a great influence on European integration after 1945. Besides Blome, several other dramatis personae - statesmen, prelates, political and social activists - are featured. As a result the book reads like a compelling narrative. At the same time, it offers a broadly sketched historical fresco of international politics and the gradual formation of the modern State. The original Dutch edition of this book, Het gevecht met Leviathan, has been highly praised in the Dutch and Flemish press, and was awarded the biennial international Arenberg Prize for European History and Culture.

  • Church leaders and their contrasting opinions in the face of the Great War

    Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier, Archbishop of Malines, was the incarnation of the Belgian resistance against the German occupation during the First World War. With his famous pastoral letter of Christmas 1914 'Patriotisme et Endurance' he reached a wide audience, and gained international influence and respect.

    Mercier's distinct patriotic stance clearly determined his views of national politics, especially of the 'Flemish question', and his conflict with the German occupier made him a hero of the Allies. The Germans did not always know how to handle this influential man of the Church. Pope Benedict XV did not always approve of the course of action adopted by the Belgian prelate. Whereas Mercier justified the war effort as a just cause in view of the restoration of Belgium's independence, the Pope feared that "this useless massacre" meant nothing but the "suicide of civilized Europe".

    Through a critical analysis of the policies of Cardinal Mercier and Pope Benedict XV, this book sheds revealing light on the contrasting positions of Church leaders in the face of the Great War.

  • « Splendide famille. Le père, un gars flamand, simple, robuste - la mère profondément religieuse. Les enfants tous débordants de vie. Ils ont un tel courage, pour braver les Français avec leur conviction religieuse. »

    Ainsi parlait le père jésuite Frans Van den Brande, l'un des aumôniers des paysans flamands du Nord de la France dans l'entre-deux-guerres. Son activité avait un objectif simple: s'assurer que les émigrés belges restassent catholiques et flamands. L'initiative n'était pas neuve. Elle s'inscrivait dans une longue tradition de l'église belge de continuer à se préoccuper du sort de leurs paroissiens qui avaient choisi d'émigrer en France.

    Ce qui avait commencé comme un simple encadrement religieux pour les émigrés vivant désormais à Paris ou dans la banlieue industrielle de Lille, s'étendit après la Grande Guerre, aux régions rurales du Nord de la France. Le fondement de cet engagement était une méfiance profonde vis-à-vis du pays d'accueil.

    Rester catholique en France explore la nature et l'effet de ces initiatives sur la toile de fond de la riche histoire de la migration belge en France. Cette histoire sonne à la fois étonnante et familière, révolue et pourtant pertinente dans le débat actuel sur l'immigration. Ce travail illustre clairement comment l'étrangeté est perçue à partir de différences minimes, mais surtout comment une identité des migrants trouve forme à partir des interactions entre pays d'origine et pays de destination.

  • In 1773, Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Society of Jesus. For the 823 Jesuits living in the Low Countries, it meant the end of their institutional religious life. In the Austrian Netherlands, the Jesuits were put under strict surveillance, but in the Dutch Republic they were able to continue their missionary work. It is this regional contrast and the opportunities it offered for the Order to survive that make the Low Countries an exceptional and interesting case in Jesuit history.

    Just as in White Russia, former Jesuits and new Jesuits in the Low Countries prepared for the restoration of the Order, with the help of other religious, priests, and lay benefactors. In 1814, eight days before the restoration of the Society by Pope Pius VII, the novitiate near Ghent opened with eleven candidates from all over the United Netherlands. Barely twenty years later, the Order in the Low Countries - by then counting one hundred members - formed an independent Belgian Province. A separate Dutch Province followed in 1850. Obviously, the reestablishment, with new churches and new colleges, carried a heavy survival burden: in the face of their old enemies and the black legends they revived, the Jesuits had to retrieve their true identity, which had been suppressed for forty years.

  • Among a wide spectrum of American Protestants, the horrors of World War II triggered grave concern for Europe's religious future. They promptly mobilised resources to revive Europe's Christian foundation. Saving the Overlooked Continent reconstructs this surprising redirection of Western missions. For the first time, Europe became the recipient of America's missionary enterprise.

    The American missionary impulse matched the military, economic, and political programs of the U.S., all of which positioned the United States to become Europe's dominant partner and point of cultural reference. One result was the importation of the internal conflicts that vexed American Protestants - theological tensions between modernists and traditionalists, and organisational competition between established churches and independent parachurch associations. Europe was offered a new slate of options that sparked civic and ecclesiastical responses.

    But behind these contending religious networks lay a considerable overlap of goals and means based on a shared missionary trajectory. By the mid-1960s, most Protestant American agencies admitted that the expectation of a religious revival had been too optimistic despite their initiatives having led to an integration of Europe in the global evangelical network. The agencies reconsidered their assumptions and redefined their strategies. The initial opposition between inclusive and exclusive approaches abated, and the path opened to a sustained cooperation among once-fierce opponents.

  • Nineteenth-century female congregation founders could achieve levels of autonomy, power and prestige that were beyond reach for most women of their time. With a subject hidden for a long time behind a curtain of modesty and mystery, this book recounts the fascinating but ambiguous life stories of four Belgian religious women. A close reading of their personal writings unveils their conflicted existence: ambitious, engaged, and bold on the one hand, suffering and isolated on the other, they were both victims and promotors of a nineteenth-century ideal of female submission. As religious and social entrepreneurs these women played an influential role in the revival of the church and the development of education, health care and social provisions in modern Belgium. But, equally well, they were bound to rigid gender patterns and adherents of an ultramontane church ideology that fundamentally distrusted modern society.

  • One hardly known but fascinating aspect of the Cold War was the use of the holy Virgin Mary as a warrior against atheist ideologies. After the Second World War, there was a remarkable rise in the West of religiously inflected rhetoric against what was characterised as "godless communism". The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church not only urged their followers to resist socialism, but along with many prominent Catholic laity and activist movements they marshaled the support of Catholics into a spiritual holy war. In this book renowned experts address a variety of grassroots and Church initiatives related to Marian politics, the hausse of Marian apparitions during the Cold War period, and the present-day revival of Marian devotional culture. By identifying and analysing the militant side of Mary in the Cold War context on a global scale for the first time, Cold War Mary will attract readers interested in religious history, history of the Cold War, and twentieth-century international history.

  • Research continues to show that the Christian religion is gradually disappearing from the public, cultural and social spheres in Western Europe. Even on the individual level, institutionalised religion is becoming increasingly marginalised. Some scholars, however, speak of a repositioning of the Christian churches in post-modern Europe, citing new forms of religious life and community. This book focuses on the complex mutations the Christian churches in Western Europe have experienced since World War II. The authors offer a comparative exploration of the situations in several countries and describe the evolution (including the specific growth and decline) of the various Christian denominations.

  • By studying the reception and perception of the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain, this book argues that European modernist artists and intellectuals sought a primordial finality in Catholicism. The French poet, writer, and surrealist filmmaker Jean Cocteau converted under the influence of Maritain. For the painters Gino Severini, a pioneer of Futurism, and Otto Van Rees, one of the first Dadaists -both converts- Maritain played the role of spiritual counselor. And when the promoter of abstract art Michel Seuphor embraced Catholic faith in the 1930s, he, too, had extensive contact with Maritain. For all of them, the dictum of the Irish poet Brian Coffey, once a doctoral student under Maritain, applied: modern art needs a Thomist conceptual framework. However, the contributions in The Maritain Factor also show that, besides admiration, Maritain provoked irritation with his theories. Walter Benjamin for example, could only look at Maritain as a charlatan who was out to place modern art under the glass bell jar of Catholicism. The authors demonstrate that Catholic thought was not just one aspect of the manifold varieties of modernist discourses and practices, but in fact offered a basis to organize and structure this multiplicity in the 1920s and 1930s.

    With contributions by: Philippe Chenaux, Jan De Maeyer, Michael Einfalt, Jason Harding, Rajesh Heynickx, Zoë Marie Jones, Ewoud Kieft, Mathijs Sanders, Stephen Schloesser, Stéphane Symons, Cécile Vanderpelen-Diagre, James Matthew Wilson.

  • A broad perspective on the role of religious institutes in social and cultural practices
    This volume examines the cultural contribution of religious institutes, men and women religious, and their role in the constitution of Catholic communities of communication in different European countries (England, Germany, Liechtenstein, the Low Countries, the Nordic Countries, Switzerland). The articles focus on social and cultural history by comparing both discourses and cultural and social practices, as well as examining international networks and cultural transference. How did religious institutes function as cultural elites in the production and mediation of knowledge, ideologies, cultural codes, and practices? What kind of discursive and operational strategies did they use to help construct and propagate social Catholicism, ultramontanism, and confessionalism, and to establish and promote the Catholic communication system? What were the central mechanisms in the production of knowledge and how were they incorporated within identity politics?

    The volume also takes a broad perspective on the role of religious institutes in the production and propagation of religious, cultural, and social practices, and in the socialisation of the Catholic population. The focus is on cultural practices, on the transmission and transformation of attitudes, and on the rites and customs in everyday religious and social practices.

  • Religion and science on paranormal events. Described as 'the hand of God', as 'pathological' or even as 'a clever trick', exceptional corporeal phenomena such as miraculous cures, stigmata, and incorrupt corpses have triggered heated debates in the past. Depending on their definition as either 'supernatural', 'psycho-somatic' or 'fraudulent', different authorities have sought to explain these enigmatic occurrences by stimulating inquiries and claiming jurisdiction over them. As a consequence, separate ecclesiastic and medical forms of expertise emerged on these issues in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This incommensurability has since echoed in historical analyses of paranormal events. In this book the emphasis is not placed solely on the debates within one or the other epistemological system (science or religion), but also on the crossovers and collaborations between them. Religion and science developed through a process of interaction. A changing religious climate and new religious currents provided new cases for study. Religious phenomena inspired new medical approaches such as the healing power of faith. New medical findings could be adopted to oppose new messiahs and medical imagery came to inspire the campaigns of opponents of aberrant of religious currents. Sign or Symptom? explores how the evolutions within religion and science influenced each other, a productive interaction that has been hidden from view until now.

  • Sacred architecture as reality and metaphor in secularised Western society.
    Christian monasteries and convents, built throughout Europe for the best part of 1,500 years, are now at a crossroads. This study attempts to understand the sacred architecture of monasteries as a process of the tangible and symbolic organisation of space and time for religious communities. Despite the weight of seemingly immutable monastic tradition, architecture has contributed to developing specific religious identities and played a fundamental part in the reformation of different forms of religious life according to the changing needs of society. The cloister is the focal point of this book because it is both architecture, a physically built reality, and a metaphor for the religious life that takes place within it. Life Inside the Cloister also addresses the afterlife and heritagisation of monastic architecture in secularised Western society.

  • Religion in today's Democratic Republic of Congo has many faces: from the overflowing seminaries and Marian shrines of the Catholic Church to the Islamic brotherhoods, from the healers of Kimban-guism to the televangelism of the booming Pentecostalist churches in the great cities, from the Orthodox communities of Kasai to the 'invisible' Mai Mai warriors in the brousse of Kivu. During the colonial period religion was no less central to people's lives than it is today. More surprisingly, behind the seemingly smooth facade of missions linked closely to imperial power, faith and worship were already marked by diversity and dynamism, tying the Congo into broader African and global movements.

    The contributions in this book provide insight into the multifaceted history of the interaction between religion and colonization. The authors outline the institutional political framework, and focus on the challenge that old and new forms of slavery entailed for the missions. The atrocities committed at the time of the Congo Free State became an existential question for young Christian communities. In the Belgian Congo after 1908, more structural forms of colonial violence remained a key issue marking religious experiences. And yet, religion also acted as a bridge. The authors emphasize the role intermediaries such as catechists or medical assistants played in the African "appropriation" of Christianity. They examine the complex interaction with indigenous religious beliefs and practices, and zoom in on the part religions played in the independence movement, as well as on their reaction to independence itself. Coming at a moment when Belgium confronts its colonial past, this volume provides a timely reassessment of religion as a key factor.