What Happened at Vatican II?

Don’t miss Peter Steinfels’ appreciation of John O’Malley SJ’s marvelous new book What Happened at Vatican II, in the Times today.  Steinfels summarizes O’Malley’s history of the Council as well as his approach to the widespread "continuity vs. discontinuity" debate.  In short, says Steinfels, "Father O’Malley’s superb history demonstrates why any effort to shuffle the cards of continuity and discontinuity so as to minimize the profound reorientation wrought by the council borders on the ludicrous."

America’s review of the book, written by Thomas J. Shelley, is here.  Father O’Malley is Distinguished Professor of Church History at Georgetown, author of the indispensable book, The First Jesuits, and a frequent contributor to America. 

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James Martin, SJ  

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9 years 10 months ago
The Truth is consistent from the start. The Blessed Trinity is about Unity which is why we know that the Holy Spirit must proceed from both The Father and The Son. Wherever The Father is, so too, is The Son.
9 years 10 months ago
I am confused by one statement in Mr. Steinfels' review: 'The creed proclaimed today at Sunday Mass in every American parish is the same as before the council — except it is said now by the whole congregation in English (or Spanish, or dozens of other languages) rather than by the priest alone in Latin.' Perhaps I am stumbling into a doddering old age, but I remember clearly that the Creed before Vatican II was said by the parishioners in English. It was sung - generally at High Mass - in Latin.
9 years 10 months ago
Right, and we know that from revelation and from our desire to be different from the Orthodox (for whom the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone). That alone should give you pause about our absolute knowledge of sacred mysteries. Faith is not about certainty. Loyalty is about certainty. Faith is something else entirely.
9 years 9 months ago
Richard McBrien has written cogently on the continuity/discontinuity issue at his website, www.richardmcbrien.com Excerpt from 1/19/07 column on ''Interpreting Vatican II'': In doing research recently for another project, I came across a column that I had written at Christmas 1966, one year after the council adjourned. The column was entitled, 'Did the Council Change Anything?,' and began with the words: 'The strongest and, in the long run, the most effective opposition to the Second Vatican Council comes not from the vocal detractors of the Council’s spirit and orientation but rather from those who insist that the Council really changed nothing at all.' It continued: 'when opponents of Vatican II insist that the Council really changed nothing at all, they are right if they mean that it brought to a fuller flowering the authentic tradition of the Church. But one may seriously question if this is what they mean. For the Council does, in fact, pose a challenge to change. It has changed much that was once considered a part of the authentic tradition of the Church: some of the theology of our catechisms and seminary manuals and pulpit oratory' of the first half of the 20th century. 'What the Council has shown is that this theology, so long assumed to be ‘traditional,’ was not traditional at all....' Ongoing differences over the interpretation of Vatican II reflect, in the end, residual and deep-seated differences over pre-Vatican II theology and practices. The council’s defeated minority are not without heirs.'' Amen. (Why are no paragraph separations for easy readability allowed when typed with one line between paragraphs? Even two-line spaces result in one large paragraph. Not helpful layout.What am I doing incorrectly?)
9 years 10 months ago
Truth is consistent from the start. Our understanding of the Truth is not. To claim otherwise is hubris. St. Augustine once tried to really understand the mysteries referred to by Mrs. Danielson. God sent him an angel to correct his thinking. We should not expect more from the Curia than God expected from Augustine (however comforting that certainty would be).
9 years 10 months ago
Michael, The Blessed Trinity is a Unity and The Holy Spirit proceeds from The Father and The Son.

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