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The Catholic Church in Spain, 1875-1998

  • By William J. Callahan


This book provides a comprehensive history of one of Spain's key institutions during a long and conflictive period. Generations of secular critics saw the modern Spanish Church as a monolithic, efficiently organized institution intent on imposing a highly traditional Catholicism on a society undergoing rapid social, economic, and political change. However, the rise of liberalism, republicanism, socialism, anarchism, and intellectual pluralism challenged the clergy's view that Spain had always been and would always be Catholic. The Church attempted to modernize its strategy by creating trade unions, an expanded school system, agrarian associations, and a modern confessional press, while maintaining its privileges as the established Church of the State until the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931.

This study examines the reasons behind the Church's failure to recreate the Catholic Spain of a vanished golden age and the consequences of that failure, particularly during the Second Republic, the Civil War of the 1930s and the regime of Francisco Franco. The alliance of Church and State under Franco, although far from being as untroubled as apologists maintained in public, began to break down during the 1960s. The causes of deteriorating relations between the Church and the regime form an important part of the book because they formed the background for an astonishing transformation that saw the Church accept democracy following Franco's death in 1975. Although the Church's adaptation to a pluralistic society was far from smooth, that it happened at all is remarkable, given the historic opposition of a majority of clergy and laity to liberalism, democracy, and intellectual freedom.


William J. Callahan is professor of history at the University of Toronto and fellow at Victoria College. He is the author of numerous works, including Church, Politics and Society in Spain, 1750-1874, winner of the Wallace K. Ferguson Prize of the Canadian Historical Association.


"Callahan has a great deal of experience writing about the intersection of Church and society in the history of Europe. He has a very fair way of treating the Church that is neither pandering nor hostile. He writes with a clear understanding of ecclesiastical culture and seeks to explain the actions of the hierarchy with clarity and insight. This is a very scholarly work with fine apparatus, extensive bibliography and a detailed index. It is unlikely to be outdone for many years to come. This is certainly the most definitive work on the subject available in English. This book is recommended for all academic libraries supporting graduate programs or undergraduate majors in church history."--Herman A. Peterson, Catholic Library World

"This is a magnificent book. It maintains a commanding view of the Spanish church in its relations with the res publica, with the Vatican, and with society, while at the same time evaluating the different currents within the ranks of clergy and laity. The impressive depth of scholarly analysis is matched by the elegance of William J. Callahan's writing. . . . A] superb achievement. . . . Callahan has given us a magnificent survey of the church in contemporary Spain."--Audrey Brassloff, American Historical Review

"Callahan's conclusions are careful and cautious. The clear and very readable prose includes marvelous quotations. The Catholic Church in Spain is absolutely indispensable for anyone interested in the history of Spain or the Catholic Church in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Callahan deserves the thanks of all Spanish historians providing a fundamental study that is unquestionably the major work on the topic."--University of Toronto

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  • Additional Details
  • Additional Details
    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9780813219813
    • Manufacturer: Catholic Univ Of Amer Pr
    • Language of Text: English
    • ISBN 13: 9780813219813
    • Publication Date: 03/01/2012
    • Format: Paperback
    • Author: William J. Callahan
    • Page Count: 711
    • Weight: 2.29 pounds
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