The Catholic Church in the twentieth century could prove to be one of the greatest since Christ walked the earth. What took place? What went wrong? What was learned? Where do we stand now? The Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century looks back at the historic developments and special significance of the Church at the turn of the millennium.
The Catholic Church at the year 2000 is a quite different Church from that which entered the twentieth century in the final phase of the twenty-five year pontificate of Leo XIII. This century holds special significance in the annals of Catholic Christian history for many occurrences but most importantly for the convoking of Vatican Council II and the election of Pope John Paul II. Perhaps nothing brought the Catholic Church more squarely into the modern world than changes in its understanding of the relationship of Church and state, religious freedom, the question of salvation outside Catholicism, and gender issues.
What made change in the twentieth century so exceptional is that the average lay Catholics saw it firsthand, participating up front rather than from a distance as in the past. Some changes were small and often had to do with the sweeping away of old legalisms. But in a time of greater reverence for tradition and established forms, the impact was large. Only time will tell how large of an impact the occurrences of the twentieth century have made. It could prove to be one of the greatest for the Church since Christ walked the earth. The Catholic Church in the Twentieth Century recognizes these significant occurrences in the Church at this great century's end.
Articles and their contributors are "The Papacy: From Low Regard to High Esteem," by Gerald P. Fogarty, S.J., "Priestly Ministry: A Search for Identity and Purpose," by Howard J. Gray, S.J., "Sisters and Brothers: An Evolved and Evolving Religious Life," by Barbara Kraemer, O.S.F., "The American Catholic Family: Reality or Misnomer?" by Sally Cunneen, "Women and the Church: Routing out Old Stereotypes," by Catherine Lupori and Mary Jo Richardson, "Catholic Youth: The Presumed Become the Pursued," by David O'Brien, "Catholic Education: Helping Shape Intellectual, Cultural and Civic Life," by Jeanne Knoerle, S.P., "Biblical Scholarship: When Tradition Met Method," by Patricia M. McDonald, S.H.C.J., "Ecumenism: From Isolation to a Vision of Christian Unity," by Jeffrey Gros, F.S.C., "Social Justice: Catholic Teaching Goes Global," by John Cort, "Money and the Faith: Is Mammon an Ogre Still?" by John C. Haughey, S.J., "Church and State: Large Issues Resolved, Large Issues Pending," by James Finn, "Communications and the Arts," by Michael O. Garvey, "Spirituality: Five Twentieth-Century Witnesses of Discipleship," by Bishop Robert F. Morneau.