Religious Studies | Topics in the History of Christianity: Catholic Controversies
A450 | 28617 | C. Furey


In popular press today, Catholicism is virtually synonymous with controversy, as the
current uproar about priests accused of pedophilia attests. In this course we will track the
history of Catholicism over the past 500 years by analyzing several famous controversies,
beginning with Martin Luther and the rise of the Protestant Reformation. We’ll study
internal controversies: about local versus universal practices, about the Jesuits, and about
papal power. And we’ll study some famous external controversies: the Church’s
kidnapping of the Jewish boy in the nineteenth century, the Church’s relationship with
fascist governments, and the opposition to the church in Mexico’s nationalist revolution.
The final section of the course will focus on Vatican II and the controversies that have
arisen in its wake. These events will provide a framework for analyzing broad questions
about how religious traditions adapt and change over time, and about how Catholicism
and modernity came to be defined over against one another. This course will involve a
significant amount of primary and secondary source reading, and requirements will include
several short response papers as well as a final research paper.