Western European Liberation Theology: The First Wave (1924-1959)

ISBN : 9780198743255

Gerd-Rainer Horn
336 ページ
157 x 234 mm

Western European Liberation Theology is the first comprehensive survey of the development of a distinct, progressive variant of Catholicism in twentieth-century Western Europe. This Left Catholicism served to lay the basis for the subsequent events and evolutions associated with Vatican II. Initially emerging within the boundaries of Catholic Action, fuelled by the growing power and self-confidence of the Catholic laity, a series of challenges to received wisdom and an array of novel experiments were launched in various corners of Western Europe. The moment of liberation from Nazi occupation and world war in 1944/45 turned out to be the highpoint of these optimistic paradigm shifts. Concentrating on interrelated developments in theology, Catholic politics and apostolic social action, Gerd-Rainer Horn integrates evidence from Italian, French and Belgian national contexts. Drawing on his research in over twenty archives between Leuven and Rome, he highlights the role of organisations, social movements, and intellectual trends. The pivotal contributions of key individuals are assessed, from theologians such as Jacques Maritain and Emmanuel Mounier, to the millenarian activist priests, Don Zeno Saltini and Don Primo Mazzolari. In conclusion Horn suggests that first-wave Western European Left Catholicism served as an inspiration - and constituted a prototype - for subsequent Third World Liberation Theology.


1. Catholic Action: A Twentieth-Century Social Movement (1920s - 1930s)
2. Theology and Philosophy in the Age of Fascism, Communism, and World War
3. The Politics of Left Catholicism in the 1940s
4. The Mouvement Populaire des Familles
5. A Working Class Apostolate Beyond Catholic Action: Team Building, Base Communities, and Worker Priests
Bibliographic Essay


Born and raised in West Germany, after his Abitur Gerd-Rainer Horn emigrated to the United States where he then lived and worked for twenty-six years, along the way obtaining his B.A. (Minnesota), M.A. and Ph.D. (Michigan). He taught at Montana State and Western Oregon University before moving to the University of Huddersfield and then the University of Warwick in England. In 2013, Horn finally returned to Europe, now teaching at Sciences Po (Institut d'Etudes Politiques) in Paris. Focussing on the transnational dimension of continental western European social movements between the 1920s and the 1980s, Horn's particular areas of expertise include the political itinerary of social democracy, the socio-political challenges of the immediate post-WW II period, the cultural and political innovations of the 1960s and 1970s, in addition to the phenomenon of progressive Catholicism in Western Europe.