Magazine November 11, 2019, Issue

Catholicism Confronts Modernity

Detail of a portrait of Pope Pius VI, 1775, by Pompeo Batoni (National Gallery of Ireland/Wikipedia)
The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself & Challenged the Modern World to Reform, by George Weigel (Basic Books, 336 pp., $30)

In his essay “The Six Ages of the Church,” the great English Catholic historian Christopher Dawson dissented from the three-fold division of history in the Christian era into ancient, medieval, and modern. Instead, he proposed, perhaps based on a line of John Henry Newman, that Christian history is composed of roughly 300- to 400-year periods. Each age begins in crisis but also with intense spiritual activity and a new sense of mission to evangelize the world. It then has a “period of achievement in which the Church seems to have conquered the world and is able to create a Christian

David P. DeavelMr. Deavel is the editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and teaches at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.

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