Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

New Light on Vatican Council II

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

New Light on Vatican Council II

Article excerpt


Il concilio inedito. Fontl del Vaticano II. Edited by Massimo Faggioli and Giovanni Turbanti. [Istituto per le scienze religiose-Bologna, Testi e ricerche di scienze religiose, Serie Fonti e strumenti di ricerca, 1.] (Bologna: II Mulino. 2001. Pp. 164. euro12.91 paperback.)

Breve storia del Concilio Vaticano II. By Giuseppe Alberigo. [Universale Paperbacks II Mulino, 488.] (Bologna: II Mulino. 2005. Pp. 201. euro10.50 paperback.). A Brief History of Vatican II. By Giuseppe Alberigo. Translated by Matthew Sherry. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books. 2006. Pp. xiv, 141. $20.00 paperback).

La fatica della libertà. L'elaborazione della dichiarazione Dignitatis humanae sulla libertà religiosa del Vaticano II. By Silvia Scatena. [Istituto per le scienze religiose-Bologna, Testi e ricerche di scienze religiose, nuova serie, 31.] (Bologna: Il Mulino. 2003. Pp. 601. euro38.00 paperback.)

Recent Vatican II Studies

Readers will be aware of the History of Vatican II, published by an international team of scholars co-ordinated by Giuseppe Alberigo of Bologna, of which the English version, supervised by Joseph Komonchak, reached completion with the publication of Volume 5 by Orbis Books in late April 2006. To prepare the five-volume History, scholarly conferences were held over the span of the last dozen years of the twentieth century, which allowed the contributors to exchange insights from their findings and discuss their interpretations, based on the Acta of the Council and many archives of its participants.1

This new research is possible and necessary, first, because of the now completed publication of the Acta of Vatican II in two sections. First came the materials from the 1959-1962 preparation of the Council, the Acta et Documenta which gave, in Series I (Antepraeparatoria; 14 vols), thousands of official proposals made by the future Fathers, by pontifical university faculties, and by the congregations of the Roman Curia in 1959-1960 for discussion and decision at Vatican II. Then, Series II (Praeparatorta; 13 vols., completed 1995) of the Acta et Documenta is the record of the work of the Central Preparatory Commission, which in 1961-1962 evaluated the draft documents produced by the particular preparatory commissions. Then foEowed the Acta Synodalta, a record first of what was said in the AuIa during the four periods 1962-1965 and then in seven additional tomes (published 1989-1999) a record of meetings of the Council leadership (Board of Presidents, Moderators) and of the official correspondence during Vatican II of the General Secretary, Msgr. Pericle Felici.2

A second enabling condition of new Vatican II research is the organization and opening of many archives of the Council, a development of major importance for historical understanding both of the Council's drama and of its final documents. The primary archive is the special section, Fondo Concilium Vaticanum II, of the Archivio segreto Vaticano, made up of some two thousand boxes of Council papers, which may be consulted with the ordinary permission of the Prefect, under the ruling of Pope Paul VI in favor of early study of these sources.3 This Vatican archive gives unique support to systematic study of the Vatican II commissions, both those that worked during the preparatory period 1959-1962 and the conciliar commissions of 1962-1965, since the published Acta give only the final versions of the texts and relattones produced by the commissions.

Around the world, many other archives are now accessible, which preserve, with different degrees of organization, the papers of the Council Fathers, the official observers, and the many assistingperiti of Vatican II. The first book reviewed below is an initial survey of such archival troves of Vatican II documentation.

On this broad basis of sources, several Vatican II documents have recently been studied comprehensively in their genesis and development, spanning the years from initial proposals made by the future Council Fathers in 1959-60, through the stages of redaction, aula discussion, revision, further discussion, voting with submitted modi, and final emendation before the definitive approval and promulgation. …

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