Christianity in the 20th century


Christianity in the 20th century
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Christianity in the 20th century was characterized by an accelerating secularization of Western society.

Christian ecumenism grew in importance, beginning at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910, and accelerated after the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) of the Catholic Church, The Liturgical Movement became significant in both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, especially in Anglicanism.

At the same time, state-promoted atheism in Communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union brought many Eastern Orthodox Christians to Western Europe and the Americas, leading to greatly increased contact between Western and Eastern Christianity. Nevertheless, church attendance declined more in Western Europe than it did in the East.

The Roman Catholic Church instituted many reforms in order to modernize, see Catholic Church in the 20th century. Catholic missionaries also made inroads in the Far East, establishing further followings in mainland China, Taiwan, and Japan.

Contents

International Christianity

In the 20th century, Christianity gained a wider representation in all parts of the world and at the beginning of the 21st century China is estimated to be the third largest Christian nation on earth, with the future prospect of Christianity eventually becoming a Sino-centric religion.[1]

I suspect that even the most enthusiastic accounts err on the downside, and that Christianity will have become a Sino-centric religion two generations from now. China may be for the 21st century what Europe was during the 8th-11th centuries, and America has been during the past several centuries: the natural ground for mass evangelisation. If this occurs, the world will change beyond our capacity to recognise it. Islam might defeat the western Europeans, simply by replacing their diminishing numbers with immigrants, but it will crumble beneath the challenge from the East. – Spengler[1]

Ecumenism broadly refers to movements between Christian groups to establish a degree of unity through dialogue. "Ecumenism" is derived from Greek οἰκουμένη (oikoumene), which means "the inhabited world", but more figuratively something like "universal oneness", see also Christendom. The movement can be distinguished into Catholic and Protestant movements, with the latter characterised by a redefined ecclesiology of "denominationalism" (which the Catholic Church, among others, rejects).

Before World War II

Modernism and liberal Protestantism

Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically-informed religious movements and moods within late 18th, 19th and 20th century Christianity. The word "liberal" in liberal Christianity does not refer to a leftist political agenda or set of beliefs, but rather to the freedom of dialectic process associated with continental philosophy and other philosophical and religious paradigms developed during the Age of Enlightenment.

Despite its name, liberal Christianity has always been thoroughly protean. The word "liberal" in liberal Christianity does not refer to a leftist political agenda but rather to insights developed during the Enlightenment. Generally speaking, Enlightenment-era liberalism held that man is a political creature and that liberty of thought and expression should be his highest value. The development of liberal Christianity owes a lot to the works of philosophers Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Schleiermacher. As a whole, liberal Christianity is a product of a continuing philosophical dialogue.

Many 20th century liberal Christians have been influenced by philosophers Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Examples of important liberal Christian thinkers are Rudolf Bultmann and John A.T. Robinson.

Fundamentalism

Fundamentalist Christianity began as a less-ridged movement than the current movement described and self-described by that term. A movement that arose within British and American Protestantism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in reaction to modernism and certain liberal Protestant groups that denied doctrines considered fundamental to Christianity yet still called themselves "Christian." Thus, "fundamentalism" sought to re-establish basic tenets that could not be denied without relinquishing a Christian identity, the "fundamentals." These distinctive tenets became defined inerrancy of the Bible, Sola Scriptura, the Virgin Birth of Jesus, the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, the bodily Resurrection of Jesus, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ. The movement divided over these and other factors over time into those now known as Fundamentalists, retaining its name, and those known as Evangelicals, retaining its original concerns.

Christian anarchism

Another movement which has grown up over the 20th century has been Christian anarchism, thought to be catalysted by Leo Tolstoy's 1894 book The Kingdom of God is Within You. The movement rejects the church, state, or any power other than God and usually adheres to absolute nonviolence. Because of its extreme political views, its appeal has been largely limited to the highly educated, especially those with humanist sentiments.

Persecutions of Roman Catholic clergy

During the Mexican Revolution between 1926 and 1934, over 3,000 priests were exiled or assassinated.[2][3] In an effort to prove that "God would not defend the Church", president Plutarco Elias Calles ordered "hideous desecration of churches ... there were parodies of (church) services, nuns were raped and any priests captured ... were shot ...".[4] Calles was eventually deposed[4] and despite the persecution, the Church in Mexico continued to grow. A 2000 census reported that 88 percent of Mexicans identify as Catholic.[5]

In 1954, under the regime of General Juan Perón, Argentina saw extensive destruction of churches, denunciations of clergy and confiscation of Catholic schools as Perón attempted to extend state control over national institutions.[6] Cuba, under atheist Fidel Castro, succeeded in reducing the Church's ability to work by deporting the archbishop and 150 Spanish priests, discriminating against Catholics in public life and education and refusing to accept them as members of the Communist Party.[7] The subsequent flight of 300,000 people from the island also helped to diminish the Church there.[7]

Unprecedented persecutions of the Catholic Church took place not only in Mexico but also in 20th century Spain and the Soviet Union. Pius XI called this the Terrible Triangle [8] The " harsh persecution short of total annihilation of the clergy, monks, and nuns and other people associated with the Church,[9] began in 1918 and continued well into the Thirties. The Civil War in Spain started in 1936, during which thousands of churches were destroyed, thirteen bishops and some 6,832 clergy and religious Spaniards were assassinated.[10][11] After the massive Church persecutions in Mexico, Spain and the Soviet Union, Pius XI defined communism as the main adversary of the Catholic Church in his encyclical Divini Redemptoris issued on March 19, 1937.[12] He blamed Western powers and media for a conspiracy of silence on the persecutions carried out by Communist, Socialist and Fascist forces.

Role under authoritarianism

Authoritarianism or Fascism describes certain related political regimes in 20th century Europe, especially the Nazi Germany of Hitler, the authoritarian Soviet Union, the Fascist Italy of Mussolini and the falangist Spain of Franco.

Russian Orthodoxy under the Soviet Union

Since the 18th cent, the Russian Orthodox Church had been run by the Most Holy Synod of bishops and lay bureaucrats, appointed by the Tsar. With the Russian Civil War, came a brief reestablished of an independent patriarchate in 1917. The Russian Orthodox Church collaborated with the White Army in the civil war (see White movement) after the October Revolution. This may have further strengthened the Bolshevik animus against the church. According to Lenin, a communist regime cannot remain neutral on the question of religion but must show itself to be merciless towards it. There was no place for the church in Lenin's classless society. Lenin quashed the Church just a few years after the reestablishment, imprisoning or killing many of the clergy and of the faithful. Part of the clergy escaped the Soviet persecutions by fleeing abroad, where they founded an independent church in exile, which reunified with the Russian one in 2007.

Before and after the October Revolution of 7 November 1917 (October 25 Old Calendar) there was a movement within the Soviet Union to unite all of the people of the world under Communist rule (see Communist International). This included the Eastern European bloc countries as well as the Balkan States. Since some of these Slavic states tied their ethnic heritage to their ethnic churches, both the peoples and their church where targeted by the Soviet.[13][14] The Soviets' official religious stance was one of "religious freedom or tolerance", though the state established atheism as the only scientific truth.[citation needed] Criticism of atheism was strictly forbidden and sometimes lead to imprisonment.[15]

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organised religions were never outlawed. Some actions against Orthodox priests and believers along with execution included torture being sent to prison camps, labour camps or mental hospitals.[16][17] The result of this state atheism was to transform the Church into a persecuted and martyred Church. In the first five years after the Bolshevik revolution, 28 bishops and 1,200 priests were executed.[18] This included people like the Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna who was at this point a monastic. Along with her murder was Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich Romanov; the Princes Ioann Konstantinovich, Konstantin Konstantinovich, Igor Konstantinovich and Vladimir Pavlovich Paley; Grand Duke Sergei's secretary, Fyodor Remez; and Varvara Yakovleva, a sister from the Grand Duchess Elizabeth's convent. They were herded into the forest, pushed into an abandoned mineshaft and grenades were then hurled into the mineshaft. Her remains were buried in Jerusalem, in the Church of Maria Magdalene.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly its entire clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500. Between 1917 and 1940, 130,000 Orthodox priests were arrested. Of these, 95,000 were put to death, executed by firing squad.[citation needed] Father Pavel Florensky was one of the New-martyrs of this particular period.

Catholics and Protestants under the Third Reich

The position of Christians in Nazi Germany is highly complex.

The relationship between Nazism and Protestantism, especially the German Lutheran Church, was complex. Though the majority of Protestant church leaders in Germany supported the Nazis' growing anti-Jewish activities, some, such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer (a Lutheran pastor) were strongly opposed to the Nazis. Bonhoeffer was later found guilty in the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler and executed.

In the 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge, drafted by the future Pope Pius XII,[19] Pope Pius XI warned Catholics that antisemitism is incompatible with Christianity.[20] Read from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches, it described Hitler as an insane and arrogant prophet and was the first official denunciation of Nazism made by any major organization.[21] Nazi persecution of the Church in Germany then began by "outright repression" and "staged prosecutions of monks for homosexuality, with the maximum of publicity."[22] When Dutch bishops protested against deportation of Jews in Holland, the Nazis responded with even more severe measures.[21]

Neo-orthodoxy is a branch of Protestant thought arose in the early 20th century in the context of the rise of the Third Reich in Germany and the accompanying political and ecclesiastical destabilization of Europe in the years before and during World War II. Neo-orthodoxy's highly contextual, dialectical modes of argument and reasoning often rendered its main premises incomprehensible to American thinkers and clergy, and it was frequently either dismissed out of hand as unrealistic or cast into the reigning left- or right-wing molds of theologizing. Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed pastor and professor, brought this movement into being by drawing upon earlier criticisms of established (largely modernist) Protestant thought made by the likes of Søren Kierkegaard and Franz Overbeck; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, murdered by the Nazis for allegedly taking part in an attempt to overthrow the Hitler regime, adhered to this school of thought; his classic The Cost of Discipleship is likely the best-known and accessible statement of the neo-orthodox p

In Poland, the Nazis murdered over 2500 monks and priests while even more were sent to concentration camps.[22] The Priester-Block (priests barracks) in Dachau concentration camp lists 2600 Roman Catholic priests.[23] Stalin staged an even more severe persecution at almost the same time.[22] After World War II historians such as David Kertzer accused the Church of encouraging centuries of anti–semitism, and Pope Pius XII of not doing enough to stop Nazi atrocities.[24]

Prominent members of the Jewish community, including Golda Meir, Albert Einstein, Moshe Sharett and Rabbi Isaac Herzog contradicted the criticisms and spoke highly of Pius' efforts to protect Jews, while others such as rabbi David G. Dalin noted that "hundreds of thousands" of Jews were saved by the Church.[25]

Regarding the matter, historian Derek Holmes wrote, "There is no doubt that the Catholic districts, resisted the lure of National Socialism Nazism far better than the Protestant ones."[26] Pope Pius XI declared - Mit brennender Sorge - that Fascist governments had hidden "pagan intentions" and expressed the irreconcilability of the Catholic position and Totalitarian Fascist State Worship, which placed the nation above God and fundamental human rights and dignity. His declaration that "Spiritually, [Christians] are all Semites" prompted the Nazis to give him the title "Chief Rabbi of the Christian World."[27]

Catholic priests were executed in concentration camps alongside Jews; for example, 2,600 Catholic priests were imprisoned in Dachau, and 2,000 of them were executed. A further 2,700 Polish priests were executed (a quarter of all Polish priests), and 5,350 Polish nuns were either displaced, imprisoned, or executed.[28] Many Catholic laypeople and clergy played notable roles in sheltering Jews during the Holocaust, including Pope Pius XII (1876–1958). The head rabbi of Rome became a Catholic in 1945 and, in honour of the actions the Pope undertook to save Jewish lives, he took the name Eugenio (the pope's first name).[29] A former Israeli consul in Italy claimed: "The Catholic Church saved more Jewish lives during the war than all the other churches, religious institutions, and rescue organisations put together."[30]

Pope Pius XI was moderately sceptic of Italian Fascism. G. K. Chesterton friendly but critical.

To Pope Pius XI, Dollfuss in Austria was the ideal politician realising Quadragesimo Anno.

Later 20th century

Spread of secularism

In Europe there has been a general move away from religious observance and belief in Christian teachings and a move towards secularism. The "secularization of society", attributed to the time of the Enlightenment and its following years, is largely responsible for the spread of secularism. For example the Gallup International Millennium Survey[31] showed that only about one sixth of Europeans attend regular religious services, less than half gave God "high importance", and only about 40% believe in a "personal God". Nevertheless the large majority considered that they "belong" to a religious denomination. Numbers show that the "de-Christianization" of Europe has slowly begun to swing in the opposite direction. Renewal in certain quarters of the Anglican church, as well as in pockets of Protestantism on the continent attest to this initial reversal of the secularization of Europe, the continent in which Christianity originally took its strongest roots and world expansion.

In North America, South America and Australia, the other three continents where Christianity is the dominant professed religion, religious observance is much higher than in Europe. At the same time, these regions are often seen by other nations as being uptight and "Victorian", in their social mores.

South America, historically Catholic, has experienced a large Evangelical and Pentecostal infusion in the 20th century due to the influx of Christian missionaries from abroad. For example: Brazil, South America's largest country, is the largest Catholic country in the world, and at the same time is the largest Evangelical country in the world (based on population). Some of the largest Christian congregations in the world are found in Brazil.

Protestantism

Evangelicalism

The 1950s saw a boom in the Evangelical church in America. The post–World War II prosperity experienced in the U.S. also had its effects on the church. Although simplistically referred to as "morphological fundamentalism", the phrase nonetheless does accurately describe the physical developments experienced. Church buildings were erected in large numbers, and the Evangelical church's activities grew along with this expansive physical growth.

In the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, there has been a marked rise in the evangelical wing of Protestant denominations, especially those that are more exclusively evangelical, and a corresponding decline in the mainstream liberal churches. In the post–World War I era, Liberalism was the faster growing sector of the American church. Liberal wings of denominations were on the rise, and a considerable number of seminaries held and taught from a liberal perspective as well. In the post–World war II era, the trend began to swing back towards the conservative camp in America's seminaries and church structures. Those entering seminaries and other postgraduate theologically related programs have shown more conservative leanings than their average predecessors.

The neo-Evangelical push of the 1940s and 1950s produced a movement that continues to have wide influence. In the southern U.S., the more moderate neo-Evangelicals, represented by leaders such as Billy Graham, have experienced a notable surge displacing the caricature of the pulpit pounding country preachers of fundamentalism. The stereotypes have gradually shifted. Some, such as Jerry Falwell, have managed to maintain credibility in the eyes of many fundamentalists, as well as to gain stature as a more moderate Evangelical.

Evangelicalism is not a single, monolithic entity. The Evangelical churches and their adherents cannot be easily stereotyped. Most are not fundamentalist, in the narrow sense that this term has come to represent; though many still refer to themselves as such. There have always been diverse views on issues, such as openness to cooperation with non-Evangelicals, the applicability of the Bible to political choices and social or scientific issues, and even the limited inerrancy of the Bible.

However, the movement has managed in an informal way, to reserve the name Evangelical for those who adhere to an historic Christian faith, a paleo-orthodoxy, as some have put it. Those who call themselves "moderate evangelicals"(although considered conservative in relation to society as a whole) still hold fast to the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith. Even "Liberal" Evangelicals label themselves as such not so much in terms of their theology, but rather to advertise that they are progressive in their civic, social, or scientific perspective.

There is some debate as to whether Pentecostals are considered to be Evangelical. Their roots in Pietism and the Holiness movement are undisputedly Evangelical, but their doctrinal distinctives differ from the more traditional Evangelicals, who are less likely to have an expectation of private revelations from God, and differ from the Pentecostal perspective on miracles, angels, and demons. Typically, those who include the Pentecostals in the Evangelical camp are labeled neo-evangelical by those who do not. The National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Alliance have numerous Trinitarian Pentecostal denominations among their membership.[32] Another relatively late entrant to wide acceptance within the Evangelical fold is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Evangelicals are as diverse as the names that appear—Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, J. Vernon McGee, Benny Hinn, J.I. Packer, John R.W. Stott, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Carter, etc.—or even Evangelical institutions such as Dallas Theological Seminary (dispensationalist), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago), Wheaton College (Illinois), the Christian Coalition, The Christian Embassy (Jerusalem), etc. Although there exists a diversity in the Evangelical community worldwide, the ties that bind all Evangelicals are still apparent. A "high view" of Scripture, belief in the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, and the bodily resurrection of Christ, to mention a few.

Australia has seen renewal in different parts of her Anglican Church, as well as a growing presence of an Evangelical community. Although more "traditional" in its Anglican roots, the nation has seen growth in its religious sector. Some of its religious programming is even exported via satellite.

Pentecostal movement

The final Great Awakening (1904 onwards) had its roots in the Holiness movement which had developed in the late 19C. The Pentecostal revival movement began, out of a passion for more power and a greater outpouring of the Spirit. In 1902, the American evangelists Reuben Archer Torrey and Charles M. Alexander conducted meetings in Melbourne, Australia, resulting in more than 8,000 converts. News of this revival travelled fast, igniting a passion for prayer and an expectation that God would work in similar ways elsewhere.

Torrey and Alexander were involved in the beginnings of the great Welsh revival (1904) which led Jessie Penn-Lewis to witness the working of Satan during times of revival, and write her book "War on the Saints". In 1906 the modern Pentecostal Movement was born in Azusa Street, in Los Angeles.

Another noteworthy development in 20th-century Christianity was the rise of the modern Pentecostal movement. Although its roots predate the year 1900, its actual birth is commonly attributed to the 20th century. Sprung from Methodist and Wesleyan roots, it arose out of the meetings at an urban mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. From there it spread around the world, carried by those who experienced what they believed to be miraculous moves of God there. These Pentecost-like manifestations have steadily been in evidence throughout the history of Christianity—such as seen in the two Great Awakenings that started in the United States. However, Azusa Street is widely accepted as the fount of the modern Pentecostal movement. Pentecostalism, which in turn birthed the Charismatic movement within already established denominations, continues to be an important force in western Christianity.

In reaction to these developments, Christian fundamentalism was a movement to reject the radical influences of philosophical humanism, as this was affecting the Christian religion. Especially targeting critical approaches to the interpretation of the Bible, and trying to blockade the inroads made into their churches by atheistic scientific assumptions, the fundamentalists began to appear in various denominations as numerous independent movements of resistance to the drift away from historic Christianity. Over time, the Fundamentalist Evangelical movement has divided into two main wings, with the label Fundamentalist following one branch, while Evangelical has become the preferred banner of the more moderate movement. Although both movements primarily originated in the English speaking world, the majority of Evangelicals now live elsewhere in the world.

Protestant ecumenism

Ecumenical movements within Protestantism have focused on determining a list of doctrines and practices essential to being Christian and thus extending to all groups which fulfil these basic criteria a (more or less) co-equal status, with perhaps one's own group still retaining a "first among equal" standing. This process involved a redefinition of the idea of "the Church" from traditional theology. This ecclesiology, known as denominationalism, contends that each group (which fulfils the essential criteria of "being Christian") is a sub-group of a greater "Christian Church", itself a purely abstract concept with no direct representation, i.e., no group, or "denomination", claims to be "the Church." Obviously, this ecclesiology is at variance with other groups that indeed consider themselves to be "the Church." The "essential criteria" generally consist of belief in the Trinity, belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to have forgiveness and eternal life, and that He died and rose again bodily.

Protestant monasticism

Christian monasticism is experiencing renewal in the form of several new foundations with an 'inter-Christian' vision for their respective communities. Expressions of ecumenical monasticism can be seen in the Bose Monastic Community and communities of the New Monasticism movement arising from Protestant Evangelicalism.

In 1944 Roger Schütz, a pastor of the Swiss Reformed Church, founded a small religious brotherhood in France which became known as the Taizé Community. Although he was partly inspired by the hope of reviving monasticism in the Protestant tradition, the brotherhood was interdenominational, accepting Roman Catholic brothers, and is thus an ecumenical rather than a specifically Protestant community.

The Order of Ecumenical Franciscans is a religious order of men and women devoted to following the examples of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Clare of Assisi in their life and understanding of the Christian gospel: sharing a love for creation and those who have been marginalized. It includes members of many different denominations, including Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and a range of Protestant traditions. The Order understands its charism to include not only ecumenical efforts and the traditional emphases of the Franciscans in general, but also to help to develop relationships between the various Franciscan orders.

Anglicanism: Anglo-Catholicism

In the early 20th century when the Anglo-Catholic Movement was at its height, the Anglican Communion had hundreds of orders and communities, and thousands of religious. However, since the 1960s there has been a sharp falling off in the numbers of religious in many parts of the Anglican Communion, most notably in the United Kingdom and the United States. Many once large and international communities have been reduced to a single convent or monastery composed of elderly men or women. In the last few decades of the 20th century, novices have for most communities been few and far between. Some orders and communities have already become extinct. There are however, still thousands of Anglican religious working today in religious communities around the world. While vocations remain few in some areas, Anglican religious communities are experiencing exponential growth in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

Roman Catholic Church

India and China

In 1939 Pope Pius XII, within weeks of his coronation, radically reverted the 250 year old Vatican policy and permitted the veneration of dead family members.[33] The Church began to flourish again with twenty new arch-dioceses, seventy-nine dioceses and thirty-eight apostolic prefects, but only until 1949, when the Communist revolution took over the country.[34]

Second Vatican Council

A major event of the Second Vatican Council, known as Vatican II, was the issuance by Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras of a joint expression of regret for many of the past actions that had led up to the Great Schism between the Western and Eastern churches, expressed as the Catholic-Orthodox Joint declaration of 1965. At the same time, they lifted the mutual excommunications dating from the 11th century.[35]

The Catholic Church engaged in a comprehensive process of reform following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65).[36] Intended as a continuation of Vatican I, under Pope John XXIII the council developed into an engine of modernisation.[36] It was tasked with making the historical teachings of the Church clear to a modern world, and made pronouncements on topics including the nature of the church, the mission of the laity and religious freedom.[36] The council approved a revision of the liturgy and permitted the Latin liturgical rites to use vernacular languages as well as Latin during mass and other sacraments.[37] Efforts by the Church to improve Christian unity became a priority.[38] In addition to finding common ground on certain issues with Protestant churches, the Catholic Church has discussed the possibility of unity with the Eastern Orthodox Church.[39]

On 11 October 1962 Pope John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council, the 21st ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. The council was "pastoral" in nature, emphasising and clarifying already defined dogma, revising liturgical practices, and providing guidance for articulating traditional Church teachings in contemporary times. The council is perhaps best known for its instructions that the Mass may be celebrated in the vernacular as well as in Latin.

At the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) the debate on papal primacy and authority re-emerged[citation needed], and in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on the authority of the Pope, bishops and councils was further elaborated. Vatican II sought to correct the unbalanced ecclesiology left behind by Vatican I. The result is the body of teaching about the papacy and episcopacy contained in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium.

Vatican II reaffirmed everything Vatican I taught about papal primacy and infallibility, but it added important points about bishops. Bishops, it says, are not "vicars of the Roman Pontiff." Rather, in governing their local churches they are "vicars and legates of Christ".[40] Together, they form a body, a "college", whose head is the pope. This episcopal college is responsible for the well-being of the Universal Church. Here in a nutshell are the basic elements of the Council's much-discussed communio ecclesiology, which affirms the importance of local churches and the doctrine of collegiality.

In a key passage about collegiality, Vatican II teaches: "The order of bishops is the successor to the college of the apostles in their role as teachers and pastors, and in it the apostolic college is perpetuated. Together with their head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him, they have supreme and full authority over the Universal Church; but this power cannot be exercised without the agreement of the Roman Pontiff".[41] Much of the present discussion of papal primacy is concerned with exploring the implications of this passage.

Chapter 3 of the dogmatic constitution on the Church of Vatican Council I (Pastor aeternus) is the principal document of the Magisterium about the content and nature of the primatial power of the Roman Pontiff. Chapter 4 is a development and defining of one particular characteristic of this primatial power, namely the Pope's supreme teaching authority, i.e. when the Pope speaks ex cathedra he teaches the doctrine of the faith infallibly.

Reforms

Changes to old rites and ceremonies following Vatican II produced a variety of responses. Some stopped going to church, while others tried to preserve the old liturgy with the help of sympathetic priests.[42] These formed the basis of today's Traditionalist Catholic groups, which believe that the reforms of Vatican II have gone too far. Liberal Catholics form another dissenting group who feel that the Vatican II reforms did not go far enough. The liberal views of theologians such as Hans Küng and Charles Curran, led to Church withdrawal of their authorization to teach as Catholics.[43] According to Professor Thomas Bokenkotter, most Catholics "accepted the changes more or less gracefully."[42] In 2007, Benedict XVI reinstated the old mass as an option, to be celebrated upon request by the faithful.[44]

A new Codex Juris Canonici - canon law called for by John XXIII, was promulgated by Pope John Paul II on January 25, 1983. It includes numerous reforms and alterations in Church law and Church discipline for the Latin Church. It replaced the 1917 version issued by Benedict XV.

Modernism and Liberation theology

In the 1960s, growing social awareness and politicization in the Latin American Church gave birth to liberation theology. The Peruvian priest, Gustavo Gutiérrez, became it primary proponent[45] and, in 1979, the bishops' conference in Mexico officially declared the Latin American Church's "preferential option for the poor".[46] Archbishop Óscar Romero, a supporter of the movement, became the region's most famous contemporary martyr in 1980, when he was murdered while saying mass by forces allied with the government.[47] Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger) denounced the movement.[48] The Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff was twice ordered to cease publishing and teaching.[49] While Pope John Paul II was criticized for his severity in dealing with proponents of the movement, he maintained that the Church, in its efforts to champion the poor, should not do so by resorting to violence or partisan politics.[45] The movement is still alive in Latin America today, though the Church now faces the challenge of Pentecostal revival in much of the region.[50]

Social and sexuality issues

Quadragesimo Anno' was issued by Pope Pius XI, on 15 May 1931, 40 years after Rerum Novarum. Unlike Leo, who addressed the mainly condition of workers, Pius XI concentrated on the ethical implications of the social and economic order. He called for the reconstruction of the social order based on the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity.[51] He noted major dangers for human freedom and dignity, arising from unrestrained capitalism and totalitarian communism.

The social teachings of Pope Pius XII repeat these teachings, and apply them in greater detail not only to workers and owners of capital, but also to other professions such as politicians, educators, housewives, farmers bookkeepers, international organizations, and all aspects of life including the military. Going beyond Pius XI, he also defined social teachings in the areas of medicine, psychology, sport, TV, science, law and education. There is virtually no social issue, which Pius XII did not address and relate to the Christian faith. [52] He was called "the Pope of Technology, for his willingness and ability to examine the social implications of technological advances. The dominant concern was the continued rights and dignity of the individual. With the beginning of the space age at the end of his pontificate, Pius XII explored the social implications of space exploration and satellites on the social fabric of humanity asking for a new sense of community and solidarity in light of existing papal teachings on subsidiarity.[53]

The sexual revolution of the 1960s brought challenging issues for the Church. Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae reaffirmed the Catholic Church's traditional view of marriage and marital relations and asserted a continued proscription of artificial birth control. In addition, the encyclical reaffirmed the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and asserted a continued condemnation of both abortion and euthanasia as grave sins which were equivalent to murder.[54][55]

Efforts to lead the Church to consider the ordination of women led Pope John Paul II to issue two documents to explain Church teaching. Mulieris Dignitatem was issued in 1988 to clarify women's equally important and complementary role in the work of the Church.[56][57] Then in 1994, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis explained that the Church extends ordination only to men in order to follow the example of Jesus, who chose only men for this specific duty.[58][59][60]

Modern response to Protestantism

Well into the twentieth century, Catholics still defined Protestants as heretics,[citation needed] even if no longer resorting to persecution. The Catholic Church considers for example "sola scriptura" heretical, the belief that the Bible is the only infallible authority for Christian faith, with the demand that all other authorities are subordinate to the Bible.

In the second half of the century, especially in the wake of Vatican II, Catholic usage began favored referring to Protestants as "separated brethren" rather than "heretics." The latter is still on occasion used vis-a-vis Catholics who abandon their Church to join a Protestant denomination.[citation needed]

Eastern Orthodoxy

Emigration to the West

One of the most striking developments in modern historical Orthodoxy is the dispersion of Orthodox Christians to the West. Emigration from Greece and the Near East in the last hundred years has created a sizable Orthodox diaspora in Western Europe, North and South America, and Australia. In addition, the Bolshevik Revolution forced thousands of Russian exiles westward. As a result, Orthodoxy's traditional frontiers have been profoundly modified. Millions of Orthodox are no longer geographically "eastern" since they live permanently in their newly adopted countries in the West. Nonetheless, they remain Eastern Orthodox in their faith and practice. Virtually all the Orthodox nationalities — Greek, Arab, Russian, Serbian, Albanian, Ukrainian, Romanian, and Bulgarian — are represented in the United States.

Russian Orthodoxy

By 1957 about 22,000 Russian Orthodox churches had become active. But in 1959 Nikita Khrushchev initiated his own campaign against the Russian Orthodox Church and forced the closure of about 12,000 churches. By 1985 fewer than 7,000 churches remained active.[61] Members of the church hierarchy were jailed or forced out, their places taken by docile clergy, many of whom had ties with the KGB.[citation needed]

In the Soviet Union, in addition to the methodical closing and destruction of churches, the charitable and social work formerly done by ecclesiastical authorities was taken over by the state. As with all private property, Church owned property was confiscated into public use. The few places of worship left to the Church were legally viewed as state property which the government permitted the church to use. After the advent of state funded universal education, the Church was not permitted to carry on educational, instructional activity for children. For adults, only training for church-related occupations was allowed. Outside of sermons during the celebration of the divine liturgy it could not instruct or evangelise to the faithful or its youth. Catechism classes, religious schools, study groups, Sunday schools and religious publications were all illegal and or banned. This persecution continued, even after the death of Stalin until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This caused many religious tracts to be circulated as illegal literature or samizdat.[16] Since the fall of the Soviet Union there have been many New-martyrs added as Saints from the yoke of atheism.

Catholic-Orthodox dialogue

Ecumenism broadly refers to movements between Christian groups to establish a degree of unity through dialogue. "Ecumenism" is derived from Greek οἰκουμένη (oikoumene), which means "the inhabited world", but more figuratively something like "universal oneness." The movement can be distinguished into Catholic and Protestant movements, with the latter characterised by a redefined ecclesiology of "denominationalism" (which the Catholic Church, among others, rejects).

Over the last century, a number of moves have been made to reconcile the schism between the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches. Although progress has been made, concerns over papal primacy and the independence of the smaller Orthodox churches has blocked a final resolution of the schism.

Some of the most difficult questions in relations with the ancient Eastern Churches concern some doctrine (i.e. Filioque, Scholasticism, functional purposes of asceticism, the essence of God, Hesychasm, Fourth Crusade, establishment of the Latin Empire, Uniatism to note but a few) as well as practical matters such as the concrete exercise of the claim to papal primacy and how to ensure that ecclesiastical union would not mean mere absorption of the smaller Churches by the Latin component of the much larger Catholic Church (the most numerous single religious denomination in the world), and the stifling or abandonment of their own rich theological, liturgical and cultural heritage.

With respect to Catholic relations with Protestant communities, certain commissions were established to foster dialogue and documents have been produced aimed at identifying points of doctrinal unity, such as the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification produced with the Lutheran World Federation in 1999.

The Uniate problem

At a meeting in Balamand, Lebanon in June 1993, the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church the delegates of the Eastern Orthodox Churches declared "...and that what has been called 'uniatism' can no longer be accepted either as a method to be followed nor as a model of the unity our Churches are seeking" (section 12 of the document).

At the same time, the Commission stated:

  • Concerning the Eastern Catholic Churches, it is clear that they, as part of the Catholic Communion, have the right to exist and to act in response to the spiritual needs of their faithful.
  • The Oriental Catholic Churches who have desired to re-establish full communion with the See of Rome and have remained faithful to it, have the rights and obligations which are connected with this communion.

Joint Theological Commission

The Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church first met in Rhodes in 1980.

Other moves toward reconciliation

In June 1995, Patriarch Bartholomew I, who was elected as the 273rd Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in October 1991, visited the Vatican for the first time, when he joined in the historic inter-religious day of prayer for peace at Assisi. Pope John Paul II and the Patriarch explicitly stated their mutual "desire to relegate the excommunications of the past to oblivion and to set out on the way to re-establishing full communion."[62]

In May 1999, John Paul II was the first pope since the Great Schism to visit an Eastern Orthodox country: Romania. Upon greeting John Paul II, the Romanian Patriarch Teoctist stated: "The second millennium of Christian history began with a painful wounding of the unity of the Church; the end of this millennium has seen a real commitment to restoring Christian unity." Pope John Paul II visited other heavily Orthodox areas such as Ukraine, despite lack of welcome at times, and he said that healing the divisions between Western and Eastern Christianity was one of his fondest wishes.

See also

References

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Further reading

  • Farrell, Joseph P. God, History, & Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes and Their Cultural Consequences. Bound edition 1997. Electronic edition 2008.
  • González, Justo L. (1985). The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 978-0-06-063316-5. 
  • Hastings, Adrian (1999). A World History of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4875-8. 
  • Latourette, Kenneth Scott (1975). A History of Christianity, Volume 2: A.D. 1500-A.D. 1975. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN 0-06-064953-4 (paperback). 
  • Latourette, Kenneth Scott (1947). A History of the Expansion of Christianity, Volume 7: Advance through storm; A.D. 1914 and after, with concluding generalizations. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode. 
  • Nichols, Aidan. Rome and the Eastern Churches: a Study in Schism. 1992
  • Shelley, Bruce L. (1996). Church History in Plain Language (2nd edition ed.). ISBN 978-0-8499-3861-0. 

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