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Posted January 11, 2008

Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?
Edited by David G. Schultenover with authors: John W. O’Malley, Stephen Schloesser, Joseph Komonchak, Neil J. Ormerod
Continuum. New York. 2007. Pp. 186

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

For 40 years a battle has been waged over Vatican II between conservatives and liberals, between those who want to go “back to the sources” and those who champion “the spirit of the council.” Pope Benedict XVI is one of those who started out a liberal only to end up in the conservative camp. Vatican II: Did Anything Happen? Is clearly on the side of those who think something unprecedented happened, that a genie was let out of the bottle that will never be put back. The book is a collection of articles that are without qualification some of the best analyses of the council ever written.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The council’s call for the Church to be a “humanizing” force was an ethically necessary response to a century that had been, in Nietzsche’s ironic phrase, “human, all too human.” The form was appropriate to the context: a magnanimous voice, rising above all pusillanimity, calling people back to the fundamental questions and evoking generosity and goodwill. Of all the reasons it did this, none stands out so boldly as the anxiety of those “Thirteen Days” in October 1962 that eerily coincided with — and set the defining stage for – the council’s first hours:

Warned by the possibility of the catastrophes that man has created, let us profit by the respite we now enjoy, thanks to the divine favor, to take stock of our responsibilities and find ways of resolving controversies in a manner worthy of human beings. Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age-old slavery of war. If we refuse to make this effort, there is no knowing where we will be led on the fatal path we have taken. (Gaudium et spes no. 81)

Table of Contents:

Introduction: John W. O’Malley

1. Vatican II as an “Event”

2. Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?

3. Against Forgetting: Memory, History, Vatican II

4. “The Times They Are A-Changin”