Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O'Malley, S.J

By Bireley, Robert | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2005 | Go to article overview

Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W. O'Malley, S.J


Bireley, Robert, The Catholic Historical Review


Early Modern European Early Modern Catholicism: Essays in Honour of John W.O'Malley, S.J. Edited by Kathleen M. Comerford and Hilmar M. Pabel. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2001. Pp. xxxvi, 324. $70.00 cloth, $27.50 paperback.)

As the editors rightly assert in their preface, this is not "any ordinary Festschrift," nor does it honor "any ordinary scholar" (p. ix). It honors fittingly the scholarship, humanity, and generosity of John W. O'Malley, who has had a major impact on our understanding of "Early Modern Catholicism." Indeed, he first effectively championed this term as a more inclusive alternative to Counter-Reformation, Catholic Reform (or Reformation), or Tridentine Catholicism. In the spirit of O'Malley, the fifteen articles assembled here illustrate "the dynamic diversity" (p. ix) as well as the creativity of the period's Catholicism. A number of the articles succinctly assess the state of the question in a particular area and others suggest new lines of research. On the other hand, the contributions do not attempt to give a complete picture of Early Modern Catholicism; they avoid, for example, darker aspects of the Counter-Reformation such as the Inquisitions, the witchcraft trials, and religious wars.

In "The Last Two Councils of the Catholic Reformation: The Influence of Lateran V on Trent," Nelson Minnich argues persuasively that "if Lateran V was but one of many influences that shaped Tridentine legislation, it may have made a much greater contribution to fashioning the polity and mentality that have come to be known as Tridentinism, that is, to elaborating institutional structures and procedures as well as promoting an intellectual and spiritual climate that together emphasized the defining role of the papacy within Early Modern Catholicism" (p. 15). Hilmar M. Pabel in "Humanism and Early Modern Catholicism: Erasmus of Rotterdam's Ars Moriendi" summons scholars to further research into the impact of humanism and the rhetorical tradition on the Catholicism of the period. "'Popular Catholicism' and the Catholic Reformation" is the title of Keith Luria's contribution; he reminds us of the impossibility of distinguishing clearly between popular and elite religion and advocates further research into the gender relations and the social consequences of Early Modern Catholicism. Religion, he notes, divided as well as united people. Christine Kooi in "Subjugo Haereticorum'. Minority Catholicism in Early Modern Europe" shows us the importance of looking at Early Modern Catholicism from the perspective of Catholic minorities, in the Netherlands and England, Germany and Scandinavia. She distinguishes two phases in their development, one of "disestablishment and persecution" until roughly 1620 followed by the second of "mission and rejuvenation that by the century's end resulted in, if not toleration, then at least in a kind of confessional accommodation" (p. …

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