Catholic nuns and sisters in a secular age examines the changes in religious life for women religious in Britain from 1945 to 1990 identifying how community and individual lives were altered. This work is grounded in three core premises: women religious were influenced by and participated in the wider social movements of the long 1960s; women’s religious institutes were transnational entities and part of a larger global happening; and the struggles of renewal were linked to competing and contradictory ideas of collective, institutional identities. The work pivots on the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), but considers pre and post Vatican II social, cultural and religious events and social movements of the 1960s as influencers in these changes. It interrogates ‘lived experience’ by examining the day-to-day lives of women religious. Though rooted in the experiences of women religious in Britain, the book probes the relationships and interconnectivities between women religious within and across national divides as they move from institutions embedded in uniformity to the acceptance of cultural plurality. It also engages with the histories of the social movements of the long 1960s. For too long, religion has been relegated to its own silo, unlinked to the ‘radical sixties’ and depicted as ultimately obstructionist to its social movements. To contest this, female religious life is examined as a microcosm of change in the Catholic Church pointing to the ‘new thinking and freer lifestyles’ that allowed for the questioning of institutional cultures.
the global success that was Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code (2003), a novel that relished the potential in portraying religious faith as devious, violent and sinister. Globally, Catholicism has become shorthand for a medieval adherence to a hegemony of evil-doers shrouded in the mystery of ritual. The close associations between Irishness and Catholicism have in turn elevated Ireland to a test case par excellence for the deconstruction of Catholic hegemony certainly, but also of authority generally. James Smith’s interpretation of the success of The
the hinterland, which was still organised along feudal lines. Social change was often resisted: Rome’s Jews were still confined to a ghetto and subject to oppressive restrictions until 1870, while industrial development was discouraged by a conservative Papacy, nervous of the social changes which might accompany such innovation. 14 The Vatican continued to administer global Catholicism whilst other holy orders ministered to the pilgrim faithful. Hoteliers, restaurateurs, traders and beggars survived from the
. Walsh, ‘Catholicism and international relations: papal interventionism’, in J. Esposito and M. Watson (ed.), Religion and Global Order (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2000), pp. 100–18, and also J. Casanova, ‘Globalizing Catholicism and the return to a “universal” Church’, in S. Rudolph and J. Piscatori (ed.), Transnational Religion and Fading States (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997), pp. 121–43. 22 This paragraph draws heavily on Walsh, ‘Catholicism and international relations: papal interventionism’. 23 A