Hummel, Karl-Joseph (Hrsg.): Zeitgeschichtliche Katholizismusforschung
Kommission für Zeitgeschichte, Research Center, Bonn

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Hummel, Karl-Joseph (Hrsg.): Zeitgeschichtliche Katholizismusforschung.
Tatsachen, Deutungen, Fragen. Eine Zwischenbilanz,
2., durchges. Aufl., Paderborn [u. a.] 2006

(Veröffentlichungen der Kommission für Zeitgeschichte, Reihe B: Forschungen, Bd. 100)

Karl-Joseph Hummel (Hrsg.): Zeitgeschichtliche Katholizismusforschung. Tatsachen, Deutungen, Fragen. Eine Zwischenbilanz.

Karl-Joseph Hummel (Hrsg.): Zeitgeschichtliche Katholizismusforschung. Tatsachen, Deutungen, Fragen. Eine Zwischenbilanz.

This attempt at an in-progress assessment of scholarship on Catholicism could not have occurred at a more fortuitous moment.  The partial opening of Vatican archives in 2003 generated great public expectations, with implications particularly for German historians.  Most experts expect this material to facilitate mainly a fine-tuning of details rather than sensational new discoveries.  Upon closer inspection, the history of German Catholicism proves to be more thoroughly researched than one might assume from the public debates that reiterate the same arguments, for example over Pope Pius XII.  Nonetheless, the case of forced laborers who worked in Church installations also demonstrates that scholars sometimes »discover« a topic only when the public already awaits authoritative answers from historians.

Inspired by this state of affairs, the Kommission für Zeitgeschichte (Commission for Contemporary History, founded in 1962), and the Catholic Academy in Bavaria organized a conference in May 2003 devoted to three major sets of issues:  What findings can scholarship on Catholicism present?  What questions have been previously neglected?  And what impulses, for example through international and interconfessional comparative work or through methodological innovation, lead the way from here?  In a critical dialogue between generations of scholars, the participants debated such subjects as »Catholicism and anti-Semitism,« »the Catholic Church and the Third Reich,« and »Church and society after 1945.«

The Commission for Contemporary History’s »Series B:  Research« dates to 1965, with Ludwig Volk’s (SJ) dissertation on the Bavarian bishops’ posture toward National Socialism.  Informed observers will hardly be surprised to discover that, after 40 years and in the 100th volume of the series, that question has acquired new currency with the availability of new materials.  It is now clear that these newly opened sources are having an even stronger influence on the historical debate than previously supposed – at least by those who would have preferred to cling to their established views – and »the past that will not go away« still contains a few surprises.

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