Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

French Catholicism: Church, State and Society in a Changing Era

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

French Catholicism: Church, State and Society in a Changing Era

Article excerpt

French Catholicism: Church, State and Society in a Changing Era. By Sandy Tippett-Spirtou. (New York: St. Martin's Press. 2000. Pp. xviii, 238. $65.00.)

The years spanned in this work, 1930-1998, certainly constitute a "changing era" both in French Catholicism and in the larger world. However, the author of this book, a lecturer in civilization at the University of Caen, tends to concentrate on the last thirty years and emphasizes the neuralgic issues of the gender, education, political action, and church governance. The result is a study more sociological than historical, based largely on published and journalistic sources, rather than on archival research. The author's own preferences, especially as regards the ordination of women and radical reform of the Church, are not veiled.

For a serious analyst of contemporary French Catholicism, this work will prove disappointing on three levels. On the theological level, the absence of any ecclesiological framework is disturbing and leads to such statements as: "... Papal encyclicals pronounce the Pope's infallible views on Catholic teachings on political and social issues" (p. 1). …

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