Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Struggle, Condemnation, Vindication: John Courtney Murray's Journey toward Vatican II

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Struggle, Condemnation, Vindication: John Courtney Murray's Journey toward Vatican II

Article excerpt

Struggle, Condemnation, Vindication: John Courtney Murray's Journey Toward Vatican II. By Barry Hudock. (Collegeville, MIN: Liturgical Press. 2013. Pp. xxx,185. $19.95 paperback. ISBN 978-0-8146-8322-4.)

This reviewer was both intrigued and skeptical when the author claimed in the introduction that "this is a theological adventure story" (p. xxiv). It is difficult to imagine the quiet, scholarly, and scrupulous John Courtney Mlurray as the subject of an "adventure" in the more common understanding of the term. Nevertheless, by the end of this concise and readable account of Murray's life, Hudocks characterization is convincing. Those who have worked with the Mlurray corpus for decades are all too familiar with Donald E. Pelotte's authoritative biography, and many might have questioned the need for another historical survey of Murray's life and work. However, this book represents a substantially fresh perspective on Murray's archival record from someone who was not a contemporary. It is a contextual reading of Mlurray from the vantage point of several generations removed from the events described and from the controversies that arose around MIurray's work in the last two decades of the twentieth century.

For this reason, one could argue that this book has the advantage of understanding Mlurray and his work from a sufficient historical distance, and for this reason, the controversies and scandals of those eras have much less influence on the way the story is told and the way the theology is interpreted. Although the book does not claim to be breaking new ground in Murray research, it is a treasure trove of information about Mlurray and his opponents, especially MIsgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, Redemptorist priest Francis Connell, and Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. Hudock excels at reconstructing the conversations on both sides of the Catholic religious-liberty issue-before, during, and after the Second V atican Council. …

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