Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States

Article excerpt

Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States. By William L. Portier. (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press. 2013. Pp. xxiv, 402. $39.95 paperback. ISBN 978-0-8032-2164-9.)

In Divided Friends: Portraits of the Roman Catholic Modernist Crisis in the United States, William L. Portier offers a new interpretation of the Roman Catholic modernism crisis and its impact on American Catholicism through the collective biography of four crucial American participants: John R. Slatter}' of the Josephites, Catholic University of America rector Denis J. O'Connoll, and the Paulists William L. Sullivan and Joseph McSorley. Although all four men garner detail, McSorley emerges as Portiers hero and unsung symbol of American Catholic life between Pope Piux X's Pascendi Dominici Gegis (1907) and the Second Vatican Council.

Traditionally, Slattery and Sullivan's response to Pius X's Pascendi encyclical condemning modernism earned the lion's share of historians' attention because of its radicalism. Both men left the Church. Slattery, discouraged with lackluster Catholic outreach to African-Americans and drawn to the modernist arguments of Albert Houtin, left the Church, married, and entered the world of finance. Sullivan embraced modernism, left the Paulists to become a Unitarian minister, and published broadsides attacking the Church he had abandoned. Historians have taken both men's self-imposed exile as signals that the post-Pascendi Church was bereft of intellectual curiosity and that a pall fell over the American Catholic mind until liberated by the Second Vatican Council. …

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