In the 1950s, West German society experienced a renaissance of middle-class family ideals. In retrospect, these reinvigorated Christian middle-class standards often appear connected to the influence of
the Catholic Church in politics and society during the Adenauer-era. But the mutual influence of politics, society, and church on the ideal and reality of family life are more complicated than they
appear at first glance.
Lukas Rölli-Alkemper’s absorbing study examines the interaction between ideal images of marriage and family life, societal realities, and political demands within German
Catholicism, using the methods of interdiciplinary scholarship on social and mentalities histories. The author illuminates the social background to the breakthrough of new marriage and family ideals at
the Second Vatican Council. And he shows how the magnetism of Church ideals declined even in the 1950s, despite a flowering of family pastoral care. The political conflicts over equalization
of family burdens and reform of family law demonstrate that the Catholic Church's influence in politics of the day came up against clear limits.