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American Catholics and the Church of TomorrowBuilding Churches for the Future, 1925-1975$
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Catherine R. Osborne

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226561028

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226561165.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Secular City

The Secular City

(p.151) Chapter Five The Secular City
American Catholics and the Church of Tomorrow

Catherine R. Osborne

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that Vatican II (especially its document Gaudium et spes) and theologian Harvey Cox spurred development of a true Catholic “secular theology.” Drawing on and transforming preconciliar urban ministries, American Catholic futurists of the 1960s looked to new kinds of church buildings to encourage the mutual eschatological salvation of Church and city. They challenged the meticulously maintained dichotomies between future and realized eschatology, between “sacred” and “profane” space, projecting an incarnational mysticism into the entire urban complex. This vision extended the reach of the Church into new corners of the city, and so it was often supported and even funded by dioceses and religious orders. But some Catholics saw the relationship as reciprocal: the city was to be understood as a salvific gift to the Church. As the Church’s role in the Vietnam War and American racial politics came under increasing activist scrutiny in the late 1960s, secular theology called into question long-standing spatial norms that had previously carved out worship space as politically inviolate. The eruption of political demonstrations within church buildings during the late 1960s represented both the logical extension of secular theology, and its institutional limit.

Keywords:   Harvey Cox, Second Vatican Council, Eschatology, Ecclesiology, Religion and the City, Religion and protest, Jose Luis Sert, Vatican II

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