Catholicism and Post-Secularism: Contesting Secularism in (Post)Modern Conditions
This paper examines the impact that post-secularism is having on the Catholic Church. After critically interrogating the idea of post-secularism as a theoretical perspective, the paper will consider research (Pace 2013) that suggests that although the resurgence of religion and the emergence of a post-secular phase have drawn attention to the limits of the secularization thesis, the onset of post-secularism will not mean a return to an idealized past for religious institutions, and a number of new challenges present themselves as churches and religious groups negotiate the changing contours of social life in late modernity. Theories of multiple secularities (Wohlrab-Sahr and Burchardt, 2012; 2013) will also be considered in this light. The paper will then assess the Catholic Church’s response to secularism as it seeks to position itself in post-secular times, through an analysis of the political theology of Johannes Baptist Metz and the holding of Vatican II. New strategies by the Catholic Church to engage with the contemporary post-secular world will also be considered. The discussion will draw on the work of Charles Taylor and Jürgen Habermas, among others, to assess the contribution that the Catholic Church has made to religious dialogue in a post-secular context, and the interplay between religious thought and postmodern secular reason.