Catholicism, Politics, and Society in Twentieth-Century

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Catholicism, Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century France. Edited by Kay Chadwick. (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Distributed in the U.S. by ISBS, Portland, Oregon. 2000. Pp. xiii, 295. $57.95.)

This carefully constructed collection of essays explores twelve facets of the complex, fascinating development of French Catholicism over the past hundred years. Each essay examines a particular aspect of that development in a self-contained treatment, based on its own well documented research. However, the twelve essays overlap and interrelate in such a way as to produce an engagingly coherent and comprehensive view of French Catholicism, not in its inner institutional evolution, but rather in its relationship to the society, culture, and state within which the French church functions.

In its own way, each of the essays deals with some aspect of the book's unifying theme, the process of secularization which permeates French Catholic experience in the years 1900-2000, as stressed by Professor Chadwick in her excellent "Introduction! Some of those essays are by well-known senior scholars, such as Emile Poulat and Yves-Marie Hilaire, who examine respectively the development of secularism and the changing religious behavior within French Catholicism over the past century. …