Catholics have responded to the social, economic, cultural, and political changes that we call “modernity” with more complexity and diversity than is usually recognized. The clergy eventually developed new approaches to pastoral care in order to adjust to an increasingly urbanized landscape, and they found ways to work within the institutions of mass politics and the genres of popular culture. Catholic publicists even appropriated and to some extent domesticated the troublesome vocabulary of modernity—words like “science” and “progress.” Catholics, no less than liberals or socialists, eventually embraced an understanding of historical time that envisioned humanity steadily advancing towards a better future. This dynamic historiosophy did not initially fit well within a Catholic framework, but with each passing decade of the 20th century it became increasingly hard to avoid. Catholicism’s modernity does not look like liberalism’s modernity, but it is no less modern for that.
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