Bryan Fanning
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A Catholic vision of Ireland
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, Catholic thinkers were preoccupied with the threats that secular, liberal and socialist ideals presented to religiosity. English Catholics like Robert Hugh Benson and Hillaire Belloc viewed the survival of Catholicism in post-Reformation Ireland as a historical miracle. For more than half a century, Catholic sociology articulated influential visions of Ireland's future. In the absence of a realistic socialist threat, the main focus of Catholic sociology was to understand and combat any kind of voice of social change that might foster secularism. The initial intellectual project of Catholic sociology was to combat the influence of socialism. Sociology for both Fr Edward Cahill and Jeremiah Newman was the science of reproducing Catholic Ireland from one generation to the next. Both emphasised the role of law in enforcing Catholic public morality and thereby enforcing social norms that were in accordance with Catholic ideals.

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