Katholizismus Als Kulturmacht. der Freiburger Theologe Joseph Sauer (1872-1949) Und das Erbe Des Franz Xaver Kraus

By Krieg, Robert A. | The Catholic Historical Review, July 2000 | Go to article overview

Katholizismus Als Kulturmacht. der Freiburger Theologe Joseph Sauer (1872-1949) Und das Erbe Des Franz Xaver Kraus


Krieg, Robert A., The Catholic Historical Review


Katholizismus als Kulturmacht Der Freiburger Theologe Joseph Sauer (18721949) and das Erbe des Franz Xaver Kraus. By Claus Arnold. [Verof fentlichungen der Kommission fur Zeitgeschichte: Reihe B: Forschungen, Band 86.] (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schoningh. 1999. Pp. 522. DM 108.)

This biography gives a thorough analysis of the intellectual life and writings of the Catholic scholar, Josef Sauer, who attained international recognition for his archaeological research, studies of Christian art, and progressive theological ideas. As told by Arnold, the story of Sauer is simultaneously a history of Catholicism in Germany from 1871 until 1949.

Sauer was born on June 6,1872, in the State of Baden and grew up during the Kulturkampf. As a seminarian at the University of Freiburg, he studied historical theology, thereby distancing himself from the Neo-Scholasticism in the seminary. After his priestly ordination, he undertook doctoral studies at Freiburg, worked closely with the "liberal" Franz Xaver Kraus, and wrote a respected dissertation, Die Symbolik des Kirchengebaudes und seiner Ausstatung in der Auffassung des Mittelalters (1902,1924).Through Kraus, Sauer came to know the scholars associated with "Reform Catholicism," including Albert Ehrhard, Herman Schell, and Martin Spahn.

After Kraus's death in 1901, Sauer emerged as the primary German dialogue partner for "modernist" thinkers like Henri Bremond, Friedrich von Hiigel, Alfred Loisy, and George Tyrrell. He also stayed in contact with the "Americanist" Denis O'Connell. Advocating the renewal of theology, Sauer arranged for the German translation and publication of Loisy's L'Evangile et l'Eglise (1902); he was the only German in 1902 with a copy of Tyrrell's Religion as a Factor of Life. He supported the efforts of Karl Muth to engage Catholicism in a constructive conversation with world literature and the arts in the journal Hochland. Sauer became professor of church history at Freiburg in 1905 and was appointed in 1911 the director of Freiburg's Institute for Christian Archaeology and Art History. Active in the Gorres Gesellschaft, he shared its vision of Catholicism joining in Germany's cultural and intellectual life.

Along with his "liberal" religious ideas, Sauer had "conservative" political and social views. During the "Great War," he remained patriotic, even criticizing French Catholics who charged that the German government was intent upon destroying Catholicism in Belgium and France as well as in Germany. Sauer remained distant from the Weimar Republic because he judged that Germany should not be a democratic, secular society. …

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