Grundtvig – en kyrkofader för danska katolska konvertiter runt sekelskiftet 1900

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The impact of the Rome-oriented "Ultramontanism" on the Catholic world in the nineteenth century helped to reactivate the Counter-Reformational confessionalism and simultaneously functioned as an injection for Catholic missionary work. The stance of the Catholic ecclesiology of the time was that even formally Christian but non-Catholic countries could be regarded as fields for missionising. The Catholic missionary offensive was also directed against Scandinavia, where the protection of the liberalised legislation on religion allowed the establish-ment of a network of parishes and mission stations. This was particularly successful in Denmark, where virtually total freedom of religion had prevailed since 1849, and in 1922 there were around 20,000 registered Catholics in the country, the majority of them Danish converts or children of converts. The about one hundred priests and six hundred nuns working in Denmark mainly came from abroad.

The much greater success of the Catholic missionary work in Denmark than in the other Nordic countries was partly due to much less restrictive legislation on religion. However, according to contemporary commentators, both Catholic and Lutheran, the Grundtvigian heritage was an important factor in the Danish Catholic conversion movement. This essay examines the extent to which Grundtvigianism had this function. On hand of memoirs, conversion narratives, and mission reports, it is shown that several of the former Lutheran priests and academically educated laymen who converted to the Catholic church had their roots in Grundtvigianism. Through these converts, the Grundtvigian tradition, with its hymn singing, its educational ideals, and its specific popular and national character entered the life of the Catholic parishes. The aim was to create a genuinely Danish and Scandinavian Catholicism which would take the place of the previously dominating Mediterranean spirituality in-fluenced by the pious ideals of Ultramontanism.

By adopting the Grundtvigian heritage, Danish Catholicism was to connect with the body of ideas that constituted a foundation for the modern Danish national consciousness. One re-sult was that Catholicism in Denmark acquired a popular Danish touch, but another was that it became more vulnerable when the national concepts began to be questioned in the 1960s. Whereas culturally radical Catholics in Sweden could be content with criticizing the Lutheran Swedishness and contrasting it with their own world-embracing Catholic community, the same criticism in Denmark also hit at the Catholics’ own Catholic identity, since it rested in part on the same foundation as that of the Protestant majority culture.
Titel på värdpublikationGrundtvig - nyckeln till det danska?
RedaktörerHanne Sanders, Olle Vind
FörlagMakadam förlag
ISBN (tryckt)91-7061-000-2
StatusPublished - 2003

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