The Long Shadow of Vatican II: Authority, Faith, and Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

The Long Shadow of Vatican II: Authority, Faith, and Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

The Long Shadow of Vatican II: Authority, Faith, and Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)

The Long Shadow of Vatican II: Authority, Faith, and Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965)


With the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Roman Catholic Church for the first time took a positive stance on modernity. Its impact on the thought, worship, and actions of Catholics worldwide was enormous. Benefiting from a half century of insights gained since Vatican II ended, this volume focuses squarely on the ongoing aftermath and reinterpretation of the Council in the twenty-first century. In five penetrating essays, contributors examine crucial issues at the heart of Catholic life and identity, primarily but not exclusively within North American contexts. On a broader level, the volume as a whole illuminates the effects of the radical changes made at Vatican II on the lived religion of everyday Catholics. As framed by volume editors Lucas Van Rompay, Sam Miglarese, and David Morgan, the book's long view of the church's gradual and often contentious transition into contemporary times profiles a church and laity who seem committed to many mutual values but feel that implementation of the changes agreed to in principle at the Council is far from accomplished. The election in 2013 of the charismatic Pope Francis has added yet another dimension to the search for the meaning of Vatican II.The contributors are Catherine E. Clifford, Hillary Kaell, Leo D. Lefebure, Jill Peterfeso, and Leslie Woodcock Tentler.


Lucas Van Rompay, Sam Miglarese, and David Morgan

Recognized as the twenty-first Ecumenical Council in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council opened its doors in October 1962. The Council convened nearly one hundred years after the much shorter First Vatican Council (1869–70) and more than four hundred years after the Council of Trent (1545–63). Prior to 1962, therefore, the Catholic Church had never deployed its broadest and most representative conciliar structure in its struggle with modernity. Both for its massive and truly global character and as the Church’s first attempt at taking a more positive stance on modernity, the Council ranks among the most significant religious events of the twentieth century.

Compelled by an imperative that resulted from popular sentiment, lived experience, and both internal and external pressures to reform, Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council to address many of the urgent issues that preoccupied twentieth-century Catholic laypeople and clergy. The liturgical movement, the revival of biblical and patristic studies, and heightened ecumenical sensitivity range among the dramatic influences that formed the background to the Council’s deliberations and decisions.

While steering a prudent middle course between tradition and innovation, between continuity and change, the Council Fathers made a number of momentous decisions that forever changed the way of thinking, worshiping, and acting of the Catholic community. Too rash for some and too timid for others, many of the reforms made or considered by the Council initiated a dynamic process of questioning, renewal, and transformation that today—more than fifty years later—has by no means subsided.

This volume commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. In providing a select history of Vatican II, it illuminates and assesses crucial aspects of the Council, including its reception and interpretation in twenty-first-century North America. Leo D. Lefebure discusses the Council and its effects on interreligious relations, Leslie W. Tentler examines the Council’s American reception and . . .

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