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New. The Modernist crisis was a decades-long conflict between a group of theologians, historians, and biblical scholars and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. It ended, in a way, in 1907, when Pope Pius X issued the documents ''Pascendi'' and ''Lamentabile, '' censuring 65 propositions taken from the works of the principal modernist writers, such as Alfred Loissy, George Tyrrell, Baron von Hugel, and Henri Bremond. The modernists sought to synthesize traditional Catholic teaching on faith and morals with modern philosophy, psychology, and historiography. O'Connell brilliantly illumines the context of the crisis and the personalities involved in the opposition, including Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius X. To the reader, it often seems that the personalities of the modernists worked against their efforts: they were contentious, sarcastic, confident in their own infallibility to the extreme, unable to acknowledge authority's rights and responsibilities. Similarly, the hierarchy seems to have reacted so defensively as to exacerbate the conflict between freedom and authority; little dialogue was possible even if the Modernists would have engaged in one with openness and respect. O'Connell's even-handed and informative narrative allows us to interpret the events and personalities of this portentious episode on their own merits.
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