Evolution of Science and Technology / Mokslo ir technikos raida, Vol 2, No 1 (2010)

The Social Catholicism Ideas in Western Europe and Their Response in Lithuania between Two World Wars

Valdas Pruskus


The social catholicism movement in states of Western Europe between two World Wars was a specific reaction to the position and attitude of Catholic Church in the presence of growing of totalitarian states. The Vatican signed concordats with them in order to protect local church against the self-will of the authorities. The church, in its turn, encouraged priests to remove themselves from an active political life, which upon circumstances was hardly possible. In the opinion of a part of Catholic intellectuals the position of the Vatican seemed to be doubtful and unacceptable. It was thought that Catholic should not remain aside from a settlement of the most actual problems of political and social life, otherwise it is upon the society, which becomes more and more secular would decrease much more.
The representatives of social catholicism movement ( E. Mounier, J. Maritain, M. D. Chenu and others) assessed more the practice of actions of Church of that period, reproved it for manifestations of formalism, confessional isolation, poor effort related to involving of persons doubting about religion or quit irreligious ones, protected a necessity of new forms of pastoral work. Their efforts to modernize Catholicism and to make Church more close, understandable and accessible to a human conformed to the general trend of changes of the religiousness in the society of that time and requirements for modernization of Church institutions and make them correspond to the needs of believers and laymen reflected the growing role of laymen and their aspiration to take more active part in the life of Church as well as in passing of important decisions of Catholic movement.
They considered catholicism a specific “ litmus sheet”, which enables to “measure” and assess the acceptability of functioning of a social political system to a spiritual self–improvement, self– expression, economic welfare of a human from a menace of a spiritual and dependence caused by the totalitarian regimes. An aspiration to an exclusive importance of a personality in the society with its right for self-dependent search for an authentic religion became the most important objects of their thoughts and the guide of the activities.
Two circumstances affected the spread of social catholicism ideas in Lithuania. First of all, Catholic intellectuals of Lithuania within their studies at universities of Western Europe had an opportunity to get a better acquaintance with the ideas of social catholicism, liked them and after return tried to inform the society of Lithuania on these ideas as wide as possible through press. Secondly, the restrained attitude of the authorities of Catholic Church of Lithuania in respect of the ‘tautininkai’ and whimsical policy in order to restrict unreasonably the activities of Church.This encouraged the young generation catholic intellectuals ( such as A. Maceina, P. Jakas, S. Yla and others), to pay special attention to problems, which were known to the Church, but they were not ready to discuss them publicly.
The young generation catholic intelectuals took the view that if the church developed a need of a conscious authentic religion in humans, it would be a pre-condition for realisation of social justice, formation of conditions for ensuring the spiritual and material welfare of a human. A realisation of such humanness depends on spiritual and social maturity of a person, which is inseparable from religiousness, deepness of believing which is attested in the best way by following the requirements of the Gospel in everyday life. So, only religious renaissance of the society, which may be encouraged by self-renovated and open challenges of time Church, can make possible the creation of such a system which serves a human and his spiritual and society expression.

Article in Lithuanian

Article in: Lithuanian

Article published:

Keyword(s): social catholicism; the Catholic church; reform; Catholic movenment; state; Church institutions; Rerum novarum; Quadragessimo anno; Divini redemptoris

DOI: 10.3846/est.2010.26

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