A Window to Reason – The Catholic Enlightenment

1 x 48 min

The Catholic Church is regarded as an enemy of the Enlightenment – and often as a brake on all innovation. But the findings of historical studies are surprising: There was substantial support for the Enlightenment among Catholic men and women even in the 18th century. The dictum of the Enlightenment – changing the world through the spread of knowledge – reconciled faith and the natural sciences in that they no longer had to compete for sovereignty in interpreting the world but instead complemented each other. It was not until the French Revolution and its aftermath that the Catholic Church declared itself a passionate opponent of the ideas of the Enlightenment in the 19th century. The Catholic Church’s anti-modernism culminated in 1873 in the dogma of papal infallibility. It was not until Vaticanum II in the early 1960s that some of the ideas of the Catholic Enlightenment thinkers were taken up again and translated into reforms regarding religious tolerance and liturgy. However, many a 250-year-old demand of the Catholic Enlightenment is still up for discussion today … Martin Betz’s film follows the traces of Catholic reformers in Vienna and the monasteries of the Danube and Alpine regions, where the rigid spirit of the Counter-Reformation was gradually eroded by the enlightened concept of freedom, thereby forming a frame in which to understand today’s trench warfare between Catholic reformers and traditionalists.

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