Patterns of Secularization: Church, State and Nation in Greece and the Republic of Ireland

By Bruce, Steve; Halikiopoulou, Daphne | Church History, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Patterns of Secularization: Church, State and Nation in Greece and the Republic of Ireland


Bruce, Steve, Halikiopoulou, Daphne, Church History


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The secularization thesis has always allowed exceptions. Where a religion acts as a guarantor of national integrity and autonomy in the face of a threat from either godless communism (Poland, Lithuania) or a powerful neighbor of a competing religion (Ireland) loyalty to the nation or the state may give the church added appeal. In this comparative study of Ireland and Greece, Halikiopoulou tries to explain why the social function of cultural defense has worked better to protect the Orthodox Church in Greece than it did to protect the Catholic Church in the Republic of Ireland.

She finds the explanation in unpacking the notion of cultural defence to consider the relationship to modernization and the extent of the external threat. In the Irish case, the Church was party to a thoroughly reactionary vision of Ireland. Eamon De Valera's imagined Ireland was a pre-industrial Catholic utopia of nineteenth century social mores and turf-burning white-washed cottages. And post-independence the external threat from Protestant and then secular Britain was slight. …

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