(C2-10) Critique from Within: Models of Social Change in the Catholic Church

Critical impulses from within religious practice have always entailed new social forms and shapes of expression of the Christian belief within the scope of the Church (schisms, the formation of denominations, orders and reform movements, theological awakenings, etc.). Critique is to a considerable extent motivated by a conscious return (retour aux sources) to the founding impulses of the religious community. Even so, it would be too narrow to explain the effect and form of critique coming from within the Church by the inner religious interplay of forces alone. Rather, forms of expressing critique have to be seen in relation to the development of the relevant social, cultural and mental context: according to the hypothesis, inner religious critique can only be understood on the basis of the interplay between “religious heritage” and social context or, respectively, between the self-concept of a religious community and the “borrowings” from outside the religious field which the critique draws on.

The following aspects will form the structure of the project and will be analysed exemplarily:

  1. Classification of different types of critique and protest in the Catholic Church;
  2. Systematisation of raison d’être and objectives of protest movements within the Church;
  3. Reflection of internal and external consequences of critique within the Church;
  4. Examination of the interplay between protest impulse and protest address which is specific to Catholicism.

Forms of critique that are articulated within a religious community form a blueprint for the “social form of the religious” with regard to Catholicism, for an adequate description of dissent, protest and critique within a religious institution can only be provided in consideration of the addressees of the critique – the Church organisation. The social body “Church”, with its antecedent dogmatic positionings and a self-concept which has become a collective habitus, is shown as a contingent social form of the religious where precisely those inner vectors of the institution are addressed that make their “living environmental participation” unfold more strongly than other elements within the religious institution. In accordance with this profile, the project is involved in the coordinated project group “Sozialformen des Religiösen” (Social forms of the religious). It is also linked with the interconnecting platform “Religion, Politics and Gender Relations”.

The Project is part of interconnecting platform G Religion, Politics, and Gender Relations and coordinated project group Social forms of religion in ‘second modernity’.