Following a chronological cross-section of the Committee’s origins and evolution, from after the Second World War to 1970, Grossmann offers a systematic analysis of the ZdK’s actions and
reactions in respect to those political themes it considered critical. He opens up the view into German lay Catholicism's leading organization. At the same time, he offers considerable insight into
the constitution of the lay apostolate, its diverse roots and diverging currents, its balance of powers and dependencies. Grossmann describes and assesses several distinct phases in the history of German
lay Catholicism during the first 25 post-war years. These include the contest between competing structural and organizational conceptions in the early 1950s, followed by centralization and monopolization
occasioned by pressure from the Church hierarchy, and finally the increasing pluralism of German lay Catholicism, a product of the broadened horizons instigated by Vatican II.
Emphasizing selected themes, Grossmann attempts to situate the Committee in the context of the Federal Republic’s history and politics. By examining the ZdK’s
achievements and goals, its subcommittees and area specialists, he exposes how internal friction could occur within a German Catholic sphere that has often been described as monolithic. Questions
concerning distance and proximity to the large political parties surface throughout. Readers who previously believed that these relationship were always clear-cut will come to surprising realizations in
the course of this book.