As we’ve seen, during the late eighteenth century and through the nineteenth century, change occurred at an alarming rate. The modern world of democracy, progress, and secularism demanded that the Church act either by resisting change or by coming to terms with modernity. The knee-jerk reaction was resistance which, over time, proved to be futile. Then, in 1878, the College of Cardinals elected an old man as a place-holder pope—one who would die soon, but whose papacy would buy time for a better choice. In God’s gracious providence, sixty-eight-year-old Vincenzo Gioacchino Raffaele Luigi Pecci served as Pope Leo XIII for twenty-five years, charting a course for faithfulness to Jesus Christ in the face of the challenges of modernity.

For those who would prefer an audio version of this lecture, an mp3 file is available HERE. Interested in catching up on the whole series? A playlist of all the lectures can be found HERE.