Religious Institutes in Western Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries
Historiography, Research, and Legal Position
In the 19th century, religious institutes (orders and congregations) underwent an unprecedented revival. As partners in a large-scale religious modernisation movement, they were welcomed by the Roman Catholic Church in its pursuit of a new role in society (especially in the educational and health-care sectors). At the same time, the Church also deemed it necessary to keep their spectacular growth in check.
Until the 1960s religious institutes played an important role both in society at large as well as within the church (for example, at the level of the missions, liturgy and art). Yet, relatively little research has been done on their development either in ecclesiastical or in broad cultural history. As a basis for further study, The European Forum on the History of Religious Insitutes in the 19th and 20th Centuries offers this study of the historiography of religious institutes and of their position in civil and canon law.