CATHOLIC INTELLECTUALS AND CONSERVATIVE POLITICS IN AMERICA, 1950-1985 by Patrick Allitt

CATHOLIC INTELLECTUALS AND CONSERVATIVE POLITICS IN AMERICA, 1950-1985

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A comprehensive and balanced history of conservative Catholic social thought during the cold war era. As Allitt (History/Emory) points out, liberal Catholic activists (Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, the brothers Berrigan) have received ample scholarly attention, but their conservative counterparts have been largely ignored. Allitt redresses the issue, beginning with the 1950's, when a monolithic Church led by Cardinal Richard Spellman stood for religious traditionalism and ardent anti- Communism. William F. Buckley, Jr., and his National Review set the agenda until the double whammy of JFK's liberal Catholic presidency and Pope John XXIII's liberal Vatican II. As a revitalized Church emphasized the rights of the dispossessed, debate broke out over the legitimacy of capitalism itself. Other inflammatory issues- -Vietnam, feminism, birth control, civil rights--left the Church ``in an uproar.'' Conservative factions came and went, finding a second life with the election of Reagan in 1980. A close-up look at four intellectuals--John Lukacs, Thomas Molnar, Garry Wills, and Michael Novak--brings Allitt up to the mid-80's, when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' wholesale rejection of the morality of nuclear weapons thrust Catholic conservatives into yet another dilemma. By stopping in the mid-80's, Allitt omits the recent impressive surge of Catholic neoconservatism centered around Richard John Neuhaus and First Things magazine. Another book, perhaps?--a suitable sequel to this first-rate report. (Ten b&w illustrations)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8014-2295-7
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Cornell Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993




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