Cancelled: Lectures at GAM, 10. Juni 2020

In Kooperation mit der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts

 

Shaun Blanchard (Baton Rouge, Louisiana): Forerunners of Vatican II? Radical Catholic Reformers in the Habsburg Lands, 1780–1800

In Kooperation mit der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts

Shaun Blanchard (Baton Rouge, Louisiana): Forerunners of Vatican II? Radical Catholic Reformers in the Habsburg Lands, 1780–1800

Moderation: Thomas Wallnig

Abstract:

This essay seeks to push back the roots of the reformist Second Vatican Council (1962–65) into the late eighteenth century. The series of reforms touching the Catholic Church in the domains of Josef II, the Prince-bishops of the Empire, and Josef's younger brother Peter Leopold in Tuscany, are correctly interpreted as modernizing and influenced by the methodologies and principles of the Enlightenment. These Erastian (that is, state-dominated) reforms are generally seen as proto-secular and motivated by people who took religion less seriously than did their opponents. Without denying the existence of such actors, this essay presents the evidence that many of the ecclesiastical reforms in these lands were also the result of long-gestating Catholic renewal currents genuinely seeking to improve the Church. Remarkably, many of the initiatives and ideas proposed and sometimes tentatively implemented in the period 1780–1800 anticipated a number of the modernizing reforms approved at Vatican II. 

The ecclesiastical policies in Josef's Austria and Peter Leopold's Tuscany are normally remembered for their excessively confrontational stances towards the papacy and the monastic orders. However, they also achieved a number of positive reforms: liturgical and devotional reforms, including increased use of the vernacular, rhetoric and even legislation extolling toleration of Jews and Protestants, and an ecclesiology that valued the rights and responsibilities local bishop and lay people.

About the Speaker:

Shaun Blanchard is Assistant Professor of Theology at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is the author of The Synod of Pistoia and Vatican II: Jansenism and the Struggle for Catholic Reform (Oxford University Press: 2019). His current projects explore the Catholic Enlightenment in the UK and Ireland (ca. 1746–1829) and the papacy and the Enlightenment.