A Council for the Global Church

A Council for the Global Church: Receiving Vatican II in History

Massimo Faggioli
Copyright Date: 2015
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    A Council for the Global Church
    Book Description:

    The year 2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. In light of recent developments—especially the resignation of Benedict XVI, the election of Pope Francis, and the Bishops’ Synods of October 2014 and 2015—this volume provides an analysis of Vatican II, the most decisive and far-reaching event in the modern Catholic Church. Explicating pivotal elements of the Council, its decision-making process and the deep consequences of its final decisions, Massimo Faggioli contributes an accessible presentation of the significance of Vatican II for the church and its life in the modern world beyond the boundaries of the Roman Catholic Church. As the Council, since its conclusion, has been subjected to various interpretations—a matter of not little controversy—the volume explores the contours of subsequent interpretation and variations in approach, especially those that have marked the eras of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Despite these controversies, however, the Council lives on, the author argues, in theology, especially the ad intra and ad extra dimensions of reform in the liturgy, the church and the modern world, and religious freedom, continuing to have global impact on Catholics and non-Catholics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4514-9667-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Publication Credits
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction Vatican II, Historicity of Theology, and Global Catholicism
    (pp. 1-10)

    This book collects and brings to a unity a series of my studies on Vatican II published in the last decade—a decade that has been quite momentous in the life of the Catholic Church and for the reception of the council. The succession of three popes (John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis) and the first resignation of a pope in the modern era are, in fact, only symptoms of deeper changes in Catholicism and in particular in the debate about Vatican II, the most important event in the history of modern Catholicism after the Council of Trent. In...

  6. Part I. The Debate on Vatican II in a Catholicism Made Global

    • 1 Fifty Years of Debate on Vatican II From Paul VI to Francis (1965–2015)
      (pp. 13-36)

      If the history of the conciliar event is necessary for the hermeneutics of Vatican II, also the history of the reception of the council is part of our understanding of it. Every Catholic has developed consciously or unconsciously an historical-theological framework where the position of Vatican II in Church history is located. The interpretation of Vatican II today cannot be disconnected from an interpretation of the history of the interpretations of Vatican II in these last fifty years.

      On December 8, 1965, the end of Vatican II meant the return of bishops and theologians from Rome to their local churches,...

    • 2 The History and the “Narratives” of Vatican II
      (pp. 37-62)

      In the development of the Christian theological tradition, history plays a major role—the Christian theological tradition is a history. Consequently, an historical perspective should be fundamental for the hermeneutics of major events that have shaped new teachings of the Church. Instead, in recent times Catholic theology has been tempted to cling to “narratives” instead of “history,” especially for the interpretation of Vatican II.² Vatican II is a complex event from a historical point of view, given its global dimension, its duration, its agenda, and its long-term consequences for the Catholic Church and for our world. But Vatican II is...

    • 3 Forms of Procedure and Sources of Legitimacy in the Second Vatican Council
      (pp. 63-84)

      In the last fifty years, there has been no shortage of publications on the major religious event of the twentieth century.¹ Theologians and historians can rely on a series of studies on the history of the council and on commentaries on the final documents of the council.² For Church historians, the history of Vatican II is not a secret anymore. But for the public at large, the historicity of Vatican II could become one of the best-kept secrets. The return to a tendency to interpret Vatican II only with a “literalist” approach, stopping short of any intellectual effort to understand...

    • 4 The Post–Vatican II Debate and the Post–Council of Basel Period Conciliarism and Constitutionalism
      (pp. 85-96)

      I grew up in Ferrara, in Northern Italy—the city where Pope Eugene IV called a council in 1438—and for five years I taught at the University of Bozen in Brixen, the city that received Nicholas of Cusa as its bishop in 1450.¹ Therefore, it is not surprising that the relationship between conciliarism and Vatican II is part of my biography and not only of my historiographical and theological endeavors. In a first step, I will try to frame the relationship between the post–Basel and the post–Vatican II debate, tracing the historiographical debate after 1959. In a...

  7. Part II. Ecclesiology and Intertextuality at Vatican II

    • 5 The Liturgical Reform and the Meaning of Vatican II
      (pp. 99-120)

      Vatican II has a theological integrity; minimizing one document minimizes all the documents.¹ That is especially true of the liturgical constitution,Sacrosanctum Concilium, the council’s chronological and theological opening. In what follows, I argue that any attempt to relativize the liturgical debate at the council, the liturgical constitution, and the liturgical reform originating from the constitution entails diminishing the significance of Vatican II and its role in the life of the Catholic Church.

      The hermeneutics of Vatican II’sSacrosanctum Concixliumin the Church’s life is far from purely theoretical. In the endless debate over the meaning of the constitution in...

    • 6 The Battle over Gaudium et Spes Then and Now Dialogue with the Modern World after Vatican II
      (pp. 121-142)

      The pastoral constitutionGaudium et Spesis the most typical document of Vatican II. But most typical is also the history of its reception, and in this sense recovering this history is essential to understand the complexity of the conciliar reception in its entirety.¹

      When we try to contemplate the significance of the pastoral constitutionGaudium et Spesfifty years after the beginning of Vatican II, it is difficult not to begin with two definitions given to the pastoral constitution: theschema vedette, that is, the “star of Vatican II” (according to the Vatican correspondent for the Parisbased newspaperLe...

    • 7 The Political Significance of Vatican II and Its “Constitutional” Value
      (pp. 143-164)

      Vatican II was not a political event and does not convey a political message. But the event, the way it unfolded, and the final documents contain a political culture that is necessary to understand in order to understand the value of Vatican II in the world of today.¹

      Celebrating anniversaries is a special kind of “public liturgy,” often used to remember facts and events that are relevant only for specific persons but totally irrelevant or even annoying for all others. This phenomenon of modern life strikes a note of caution, if we consider that the years 2012–2015 mark the...

    • 8 Vatican II and the Church of the Margins
      (pp. 165-180)

      The ecclesiology of “the peripheries” is one of the many cases when, in order to understand the impact of pope Francis, it is necessary to look at Vatican II and its trajectories, which are still active and visible in the Church of today.¹

      On October 22, 1965, when Vatican II was in its final weeks, Yves Congar received a phone call from the dean of the Faculty of Theology in Fribourg (Switzerland), informing him that the faculty had decided unanimously to give him a doctoratehonoris causa. Congar was not persuaded by the invitation, as he reported in his journal...

  8. Part III. Vatican II and the Agenda of the Church

    • 9 The Relevance of Vatican II after Fifty Years
      (pp. 183-200)

      “Is Vatican II still relevant after fifty years?” This is not a rhetorical question. The Church and the world have changed since the opening of the council on October 12, 1962. For many other councils in the history of the Catholic Church, that same question—“Is the ecumenical council of fifty years ago still relevant?”—would have received a negative answer (to put it mildly). Let us imagine a gathering of theologians in 1562 (during the Council of Trent!) trying to understand the relevance of the Fifth Lateran Council (1512–1517), which had ended in Rome in the same year...

    • 10 The Role of Episcopal Conferences since Vatican II A Test Case for Collegiality in the Church
      (pp. 201-228)

      In the fifty years since the close of Vatican II, the issue of the theological status and role of episcopal conferences in the government of the Catholic Church has been a fraught one.¹ This was illustrated afresh when Pope Francis cited the episcopal conferences of Asia, Africa, Latin America, the United States, and France in his apostolic exhortationEvangelii Gaudium(November 24, 2013), as if to bolster their magisterial authority. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was quick to point out, a few days later, that while papacy and episcopacy are of divine...

    • 11 Vatican II and the Agenda for Collegiality and Synodality in the Twenty-First Century
      (pp. 229-254)

      Christus Dominuswas the decree of Vatican II that was supposed to translate conciliar ecclesiological developments into new government institutions at the episcopal level and in a communional-synodal direction.¹ It was ratified by the conciliar fathers on October 28, 1965, with 2,139placet(yes), 2non placet(no), and 1 invalid vote. Paul VI approved the decree immediately after the vote. The decree, which originated from the integration of the schemaDe Cura Animarum(On the pastoral care of the souls) and the schemaDe Episcoporum Munere Pastorali(On the pastoral ministry of bishops)—which were also the result of...

    • 12 About Vatican II and Women in the Church Councils and Postconciliar Periods in Modern Catholicism
      (pp. 255-266)

      The way Vatican II dealt (or did not deal) with a given issue and the way the post–Vatican II period dealt with the same issue are relevant to assess the relevance of Vatican II today. But a necessary precedent of Vatican II is Trent: not only for what the council of Trent was, but also for what the post–council of Trent did (or did not do) in comparison to the council.¹

      The “theology of women” and the role of women in the Church are very important topics, if not the most important, on which Vatican II expressed itself...

    • 13 The Future of Vatican II The Vision of the Council beyond the “Narratives”
      (pp. 267-288)

      The legacy of Vatican II is much more than the “documents” of Vatican II. But especially in the Western world, and specifically in the North American context, Vatican II fell victim of a clash of narratives that focuses on certain texts in an approach that is more theological-political than theological and that dismisses history from the hermeneutical horizon. A first necessary step to reclaim Vatican II is liberating the memory of the council from those narratives. History serves the theological tradition of the Church much better than ideology.¹ During the last public session of Vatican II, on December 7, 1965,...

  9. Part IV. A Council for the Global Church

    • 14 Catholicism From a European Church to Global Catholicism
      (pp. 291-306)

      The relevance of Christianity for Europe¹ goes far beyond the scarce figure of the European churchgoer in comparison with the “desperately godly” America on one side and the secularization of culture, schools, and the media in Europe on the other.² One of the ironies of the contemporary discourse on religion is the fact that businesspeople seem to believe in the future of European Christianity much more than European theologians and European Christians do.³ But the fact is that European Christianity, particularly European Catholicism, still has to absorb the epochal changes that happened in the cultural features of the Christian faith...

    • 15 The Church of Vatican II and the Common Ground Catholicism and Citizenship
      (pp. 307-328)

      Catholicism carries, by its very name “Catholic,” a special responsibility of keeping a sense of unity that is at risk in our times. My experience of a European Catholic who came to America a few years ago made me painfully aware of this risk.¹

      The legacy of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin (1928–1996) is particularly close to the interest of Catholic scholars who study Vatican II and its impact on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world, which istheissue of post–Vatican II Catholicism. For anyone looking honestly at the role of the Catholic Common Ground...

    • 16 Conclusions Pope Francis and the Shift in the Debate on Vatican II
      (pp. 329-336)

      Vatican II stands, at fifty years from its conclusion, between event and reception, and this particular moment in the life of the Christian theological tradition can be understood only in a historical perspective. In a sense, this is the only claim of this book, which follows and comes at the end of an important season in the studies on the Second Vatican Council.¹

      This is the core of this book that started with a section focusing on the history of the debate on the council in relation to some key features of that event (the conciliar debate as a source...

  10. Index
    (pp. 337-349)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 350-350)