The Signs of the Times in the Life and Thought of Marie-Dominique Chenu

Mary Kate Holman, Fordham University


This dissertation analyzes the life and thought of Marie-Dominique Chenu (1895-1990), a marginalized but pivotal figure in the Catholic Church’s opening to the modern world in the twentieth century. Drawing chiefly on untranslated publications and unpublished archive material, it argues that Chenu’s theological contributions can only be understood through the prism of his life commitments and experiences. The argument proceeds by chronologically tracing Chenu’s increasingly inductive theological method through four phases of his life. As a historian and professor at the Saulchoir Dominican House of Studies from 1920-1942, he developed a historically conscious approach to the work of Thomas Aquinas, articulated in his 1937 work Une école de théologie, which the Vatican condemned in 1942. From 1942-1954, his work developed an increasingly social dimension as he collaborated with worker communities in the industrial neighborhoods of Paris, until he was again condemned for his support of the suspended Worker-Priest Movement. After a period of exile, Chenu worked at the margins of the Second Vatican Council from 1962-1965, where his historically conscious and socially engaged theology contributed to the Catholic Church’s opening to the modern world and reading of the signs of the times. Finally, from 1965 until his death in 1990, Chenu engaged a variety of social issues, further sharpening his historical and social approach to theology by constructing a theology of change.

Subject Area

Theology|Religious history|Religion

Recommended Citation

Holman, Mary Kate, "The Signs of the Times in the Life and Thought of Marie-Dominique Chenu" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28090034.