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  • Kirchengeschichte. Alte und neue Wege. Festschrift für Christoph Weber
  • Paul Misner
Kirchengeschichte. Alte und neue Wege. Festschrift für Christoph Weber. Edited by Gisela Fleckenstein, Michael Klöcker and Norbert Schloßmacher. 2 vols. (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 2008. Pp. viii, 1009. $141.95. ISBN 978-3-631-57712-7.)

Thirty-nine essays by as many authors deal with five broad overlapping fields in which the honoree, Christoph Weber, has labored over the years. The largest number of contributions comes under the heading “History of the Papacy, the Roman Curia, and the College of Cardinals,” covering episodes from AD 530 to 1933. There follow five chapters on mostly nineteenth- century ultramontanism and liberal Catholicism, including also one treatment of celibacy among Italian clerical composers (Vivaldi et al.) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nine essays focus mainly on local history in the Catholic Rhineland in early-modern and modern times. Under the heading “history of historiography” come investigations dealing with Bernhard Jansen, S.J. (1877–1942); Johannes Jørgenson (1866–1956); and one Heinrich Schnee (1895–1968), as well as Erwin Gatz’s contextualization of the project he is leading for a new atlas of church history. Five concluding essays range from Thomas Mergel’s inaugural lecture on assuming his professorship at the University of Basel in 2007 (on the interrelationship of religious and national identity in the period before and after World War I) to Gerhard Menzel on ecclesiastical developments vis-à-vis Vodoun practices in Haiti. There is no index.

Many of the essays reflect the approaches characteristic of Weber, born in 1943 and for many years university professor in Düsseldorf. The bibliography of his publications and of the dissertations presented under his direction (pp. 991–1009) gives evidence of these orientations. For example, the prosopographical element of Weber’s two-volume work, Kardinäle und Prälaten in [End Page 571] den letzten Jahrzehnten des Kirchenstaates (Stuttgart, 1978) and his Genealogien zur Papstgeschichte (Stuttgart, 1999, 2001–04) is also prominent in the essays by Georg Denzler, Georg Schwaiger, Herman H. Schwedt, and Norbert Schloßmacher.

Also notable is the careful exploitation of archives (Quellenforschung, to use the emphatic German expression) throughout the twenty-nine books he has written or edited. Combining this archival emphasis with the biographical one, four noted researchers contribute studies of modern figures. Otto Weiss has discovered the personal papers of Constantin von Schaezler (1827–80), which reveal this convert’s development into a proponent before the Holy Office in Rome of the posthumous condemnation of an enlightened Catholic bishop, Johann Michael Sailer (1751–1832). Similarly, Claus Arnold turns up new sources for the drafting of the 1907 antimodernist encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis by Joseph Lemius. Hubert Wolf (on Eugenio Pacelli as nuncio in Munich) and Thomas Brechenmacher (on a conversation between Pacelli and Pope Pius XI in early 1933 à propos of Nazi antisemitism), take soundings of newly accessible Vatican sources. The copious notes are highly informative of the latest researches and publications on the current controversies regarding Pius XII.

Weber edited and annotated some works by Franz Xaver Kraus (Liberaler Katholizismus [Tübingen, 1983]) and the letters of Heinrich Brüning to Henricus Poels in the Netherlands (Zwischen Hitler und Pius XII [Hamburg, 2007]). Here one may see indirect American connections. Poels was the Scripture professor at The Catholic University of America from 1904 to 1910, who was fired on suspicions of modernism, but on his return to the Netherlands was a very prominent instigator of social Catholicism. An essay that links Kraus and the Catholic University is by Robert Ayers, which reveals that when Kraus (1840–1901) wrote on affairs at the Catholic University in his famous “Spectator-Briefe” in the Allgemeine Zeitung, his chief informant was Charles P. Grannan (1846–1924), also a Scripture scholar and professor at the Catholic University.

The vicissitudes of German Catholicism claim more attention, naturally. The Kulturkampf and more generally the issue of Catholic-Protestant relations loom large in essays by Jörg Engelbrecht, Karl Joseph Rivinius, and Ernst Heinen. Cologne was a center of Catholic culture, but in modern times had to depend on Bonn for a local university. In the...


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