The Failure of the Catholic Church in Postsecular Context?



At the end of the fifties of the twentieth century, the Catholic Church entered into a new epoch of its history, thanks to the charismatic Pope John XXIII. Particularly two documents, accepted by the participants of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), Nostra Aetate (Our Age) and Dignitatis humanae (On Human Dignity), were decisive in this process.

This chapter debates the contribution by the French historian Jules Isaac in this context. He made an important contribution to the study of Antisemitism in the years after the Holocaust. After the war, in the year 1947, Jules Isaac met with a group of Jewish and Christian intellectuals to whom he submitted the main theses of his work which were to form the basis for the so-called Ten Points of Seelisberg. They became one of the most important cornerstones of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.

This chapter argues that it is appropriate to introduce the concept of postsecularism as a kind of hermeneutical key for the present pluralistic character of contemporary societies.


Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate Pope John XXIII Antisemitism Catholic Antisemitism 


  1. Bauman, Z. (2017). Retrotopia. Cambridge, CA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, N. A. (1994). New testament and the teaching of contempt: Reconsideration. In M. Perry & F. M. Schweitzer (Eds.), Jewish-Christian encounters over the centuries: Symbiosis, prejudices, holocaust, dialogue (pp. 83–100). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  3. Beck, U. (2010). A God of one’s own: Religion’s capacity for peace and potential for violence. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  4. Beck, N. A., & Mazal Holocaust Collection. (1994). Mature Christianity in the 21st century: The recognition and repudiation of the anti-Jewish polemic of the new testament (Expanded and rev. ed., Shared ground among Jews and Christians, Vol. 5). New York: American Interfaith Institute/World Alliance.Google Scholar
  5. Between Jerusalem and Rome. (2017). Download April 10, 2019, from
  6. Boswell, J. (1980). Christianity, social tolerance, and homosexuality. Gay people in Western Europe from the beginning of the Christian Era to the fourteen century. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Connelly, J. (2012). From enemy to brother. The revolution in catholic teaching on the Jews 1933–1965. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Crossan, D. (1996). Who killed Jesus. Exploring the roots of antisemitism in the gospel story of the death of Jesus. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  9. Dillon, M. (2018). Postsecular Catholicism: Relevance and renewal. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eder, K. (2002). Europäische Säkularisierung—ein Sonderweg in die postsäkulare Gesellschaft? Berliner Journal für Soziologie, 12(3), 331–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ehrman, B. (2005). Misquoting Jesus. The story behind who changed the Bible and why. San Francisco, CA: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  12. Gager, J. G. (1985). The origins of antisemitism. Attitudes toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Habermas, J., & Ratzinger, J. (2006). The dialectics of secularization: On reason and religion. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press.Google Scholar
  14. Isaac, J. (1965). Teaching of contempt. Christian roots of antisemitism. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  15. Isaac, J. (1971). Jesus and Israel. New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston.Google Scholar
  16. Kołakowski, L. (2002). Co nas łączy?: Dialog z niewierzącymi. Kraków: WAM [What connects us? Conversations with non-believers].Google Scholar
  17. Kuhn, T. (1970). The structure of scientific revolution. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Martel, F. (2019). In the closet of the Vatican. Power, homosexuality, hypocrisy. London: Bloomsbury Continuum.Google Scholar
  19. Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. F. (2011). Religion and politics worldwide. Cambridge, CA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Padilla, E. (Ed.). (2014). Theology of migration in the Abrahamic religions (1st ed., Palgrave Macmillan’s Christianities of the world). New York: Palgrave MacmillanGoogle Scholar
  21. Padilla, E., & Phan, P. (2013). Contemporary issues of migration and theology (Christianities of the world). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pawlikowski, J. (1973). Catechetics and Prejudice. How catholic teaching materials view Jews, protestants and radical minorities. New York: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  23. Perry, M., & Schweitzer, F. (1994). Jewish-Christian encounters over the centuries: Symbiosis, prejudice, holocaust, dialogue. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  24. Pope Francis [Bergoglio Jorge Mario]. Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis to the People of God. Download April 10, 2019., from
  25. Radford-Ruether, R. (1974). Faith and Fratricide. The theological roots of antisemitism. New York: The Seabury Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rosati, M. (2015). The making of a postsecular society. A Durkheimian approach to memory, pluralism and religion in Turkey. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  27. Rutishauser, C. (2007). The 1947 Seelisberg conference. Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, 2(2), 34–53.Google Scholar
  28. Smith, W. C. (1964). The meaning and end of religion. New York: Mentor Book.Google Scholar
  29. Stoeckl, K. (2011) Working paper “Defining the Postsecular”. In Document Collection of the Italian-Russian Workshop “Politics, religion and culture in postsecular society (Faenza, 13–14 May 2011)”, PECOB – Portal of East Central and Balkan Europe. Download April 10, 2019, from
  30. Taylor, C. (2007). A secular age. Cambridge, CA: The Belcamp Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Tobias, N. C. (2017). Jewish conscience of the church. Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.American Studies CenterUniversity of WarsawWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations