StartseiteRoman Catholic Modernism and Anti-modernism in the Great War

StartseiteRoman Catholic Modernism and Anti-modernism in the Great War

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Veröffentlicht am Freitag, 01. April 2016


On the occasion of the First World War Centenary, the Romolo Murri Foundation of Urbino invites contributions for the third issue of the journal Modernism, dedicated to Roman Catholic Modernism and Anti-modernism in the Great War, that is going to be published at the end of 2017.



A little less than thirty years ago the Italian historian Silvio Lanaro pointed out a subject which hadn’t been «sufficiently reflected upon»: despite being guided by reformist reasons, modernist priests had been «often swallowed up by nationalism, by interventionism, and then by fascism» (L’Italia Nuova, 1988). The number of studies on the sacralisation of politics, on the politicisation of religion and on nation building has certainly made that paradox much more intelligible. The “progressive paradigm” which postulates a consubstantiality between religious reform, adherence to democratic values and pacifism has been exposed as untenable. The historiographical debate on the role of religion in WWI has also warned against unilateral readings. Moreover, the idea that there was a contraposition between Catholics faithful to the pope, inoculated against the dangers of nationalism by virtue of a universal animus, and disobedient modernists, fatally attracted to the mystique of the nation as fomenter of violence, has been demonstrated to be unfounded. The research which was carried out on priests and ex-priests, intellectuals devoted to religious studies, personalities of the organised laity and exponents of the democratic-Christian parties highlights a much more complex picture. There was a vast array of behaviours, political choices, and biographical trajectories which characterised those who were condemned, who were perceived or who continued to perceive themselves in 1914-1918 as under the label of “innovators”, within and without the borders of the ecclesiastical institution: just think of Brizio Casciola, Romolo Murri and Giovanni Semeria for Italy, or else to reference Marc Sangnier, Friedrich von Hügel, Alfred Loisy, Lucien Laberthonnière, Maude Petre, and Joseph Sauer.

This call for papers aims to promote new source exploration and analytical research (or to intercept said projects if they are already in progress). It aims, moreover, to verify the conceptual viability of a cultural history approach to the study of religion in the Great War, and the pertinence and hermeneutical efficacy of the use of the categories of war culture/s, war religion, and national Catholicism, within the geographical spaces of the European continent and America. How did modernists and ex-modernists live, interpret, and communicate the 1914-1918 experience? Were there recognizable particularities in their methods of confronting war, specifically in relation to the integration with the national state and mass politics? What were the modernists’ approaches to a total conflict that was seen to be an unprecedented massacre, but was also interpreted as a palingenetic event, capable of renewing true believers and purifying them of their clerical superstructure? What was the reach/reception of these ideas, often conveyed by minorities who were nevertheless able to play an important role as opinion makers in the war mobilisation machine and in the bestowing of value to the military effort? What relevance, by contrast, had the positions of those who opposed the armed conflict and delegitimised the “just” or “holy” war in the name of one’s country?

This CFP aims to examine more deeply, from an international and transnational perspective, how modernists and their staunch enemies, the “integrists”, relate with the Great War, assuming that their mutual positions belong to the same context of a crisis of the Catholic culture. We believe that comparing these opposing poles, both out of line with the majority of the Catholic world, one may better highlight common aspects and different conceptual processes, thereby obtaining a more precise contextualisation of personalities and issues, thus focusing, by contrast, the hegemonic positions in the Church and the orientations of the bishops. Our central questions and issues for research contributions include: What kind of national-Catholic discourse did the modernists develop? What were the convergences and divergences with the anti-modernists’ positions? In this regard, can one posit a success of the process of nationalisation of the Catholic faith? When can we use the concept of “national indifference”, instead?

We welcome contributions on the following topics:

  • thought and action of outstanding personalities: we encourage the use of unpublished correspondence and the edition of significant documents, in order to observe “from the inside” the degree of adherence to national patriotism and the ideological reasons for the war;
  • theological reflection and press, promoted by modernists and anti-modernists, with regard to nationalism, the “religion of the fatherland” and the “disastrous wonders” of the total war;
  • devotions and war liturgies inspired by modernists or integralists;
  • investigations about the religious revival and writings on the impact of the war on the Christian practice as conceived by modernists;
  • participation of the modernists in the war propaganda in its various forms and political hues;
  • modernist and anti-modernist experiences as military chaplains (if priests), as soldiers and officers, or as nurses;
  • peace activities, “pacifist” networks of dissent and distancing from the national-bellicist rhetoric (referring to figures and specific subject areas of this CFP);
  • transnational circulation of ideas, e.g. reception of major works, such as those of Alfred Loisy or Maude Petre, in the modernist and integralist field and in the differing opinions of the Catholic press;
  • positions of outstanding personalities, networks (e.g. Sodalitium Pianum) and periodicals related to the integralist views;
  • modernist and anti-modernist reactions to the positions of Benedict XV (e.g. the Note of 1st August 1917)and of the bishops.

Submission guidelines

The essays must not exceed 70,000 characters, including spaces, footnotes and bibliography, and must respect the editorial guidelines and instructions available on

Please inform us of your intention to participate by emailing an abstract (max 2,000 characters) and a short profile to:

 by 30 May 2016.

We will notify the selected participants by 30 June 2016. The final texts will must submitted to the same e-mail address before 31 January 2017.

Scientific Committee

  • Klaus Arnold (Universität Mainz),
  • Roberto Di Stefano (Universidad de Buenos Aires),
  • Maurilio Guasco (Università Piemonte Orientale),
  • Gerd-Rainer Horn (Sciences Po Paris),
  • Hugh Mc Leod (University of Birmingham),
  • Giovanni Miccoli (Università di Trieste),
  • Feliciano Montero García (Universidad de Alcalá de Hres),
  • Renato Moro (Università Roma Tre),
  • Denis Pelletier (EPHE Paris),
  • Roberto Perin (York University Toronto),
  • Cristóbal Robles Muñoz (CSIC Madrid),
  • Louis-Pierre Sardella (Université Lumière Lyon 2),
  • Rafael Serrano García (Universidad de Valladolid),
  • Maurizio Tagliaferri (Facoltà Teologica dell’Emilia Romagna),
  • Michail Talalay (Accademia delle Scienze di Mosca),
  • Charles J.T. Talar (University of St. Thomas Houston),
  • Todd Weir (University  of Belfast),
  • Annibale Zambarbieri (Università di Pavia)


  • Montag, 30. Mai 2016


  • modernism, antimodernism, war, liturgy, christian, nurse, soldier, priest, catholic, integralist, pacifist


  • Alfonso Botti
    courriel : fondazioneromolomurri [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 Diese Anzeige wird unter den Bedingungen der Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universell .


« Roman Catholic Modernism and Anti-modernism in the Great War », Beitragsaufruf, Calenda, Veröffentlicht am Freitag, 01. April 2016,

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