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Living Vatican II: The 21st Council for the 21st Century [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   243
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6.7" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.95 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 20, 2006
Publisher   Paulist Press
ISBN  0809142902  
EAN  9780809142903  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Tells the story of how one of the leading theologians of the late 20th century was personally affected by the Council and then explores the work of some institutions in Rome and elsewhere towards implementing the teaching and decisions of Vatican II.

Publishers Description
Part memoir, part history of the Church during one of her most exciting and controversial periods, this memorable book by eminent theologian Gerald O'Collins tells the story of the aftermath of Vatican II and how it affected him personally. He explores the work of some institutions in Rome and elsewhere towards implementing the teaching and decisions of Vatican II; the guidelines provided by a fourth-century example of creative fidelity in receiving conciliar teaching; the liturgical renewal after Vatican II; the reception of the Council's moral teaching; his own postoconciliar relations with other Christians and with other believers; and the impact of Vatican II on theology. Finally, O'Collins offers suggestions about the future of the Church. "But what did the Council do for me personally--as a Catholic Christian and a Jesuit priest?" The author's highly personal approach in answering this and other questions makes for a compulsively readable book that illuminates the workings of the Church as as the mind of one of the leading theologians of the 20th century.

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More About Gerald O'Collins

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Gerald O'Collins is a Research Professor of Theology at St Mary's University College, Twickenham.

Gerald O'Collins currently resides in Rome.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Vatican II Forty Years Later  Jan 23, 2007
On the fortieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council the prolific Australian Jesuit Gerald O'Collins has shared his perceptions of the reception of the Council and its teachings.

O'Collins begins with his personal experience of the changes in Catholic life brought about by the four sessions of the Council (1962-1965) and the many documents that stemmed from the Council. He then proposes a model for the reception of a council, that is, its creative implementation and interpretation. He does this by examining the reaction to the teaching of the Council of Nicea (325) culminating in the subsequent Councils of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451). This was largely due to the work of three saintly siblings (St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Macrina) and St. Gregory Naziansus - all from the Roman Province of Cappadocia in what is now Turkey.

From this history O'Collins develops four tests for the reception of conciliar teaching: 1) a deeper experience of salvation through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit; 2) a richer experience of liturgical worship; 3) fidelity to biblical witness; and 4) generous service to those who suffer.

O'Collins applies these criteria to four areas (liturgy, moral teaching, relations with others, and theology) and puts forth his hopes for the future in areas such as holiness, service to the poor, collegiality, subsidiarity, and ministry - both lay and ordained.

The author adds four appendices that illustrate the tensions between the center and the periphery in Catholic life, that is, the conflict between bishops and lay people from around the world, on the one hand, and the Bishop of Rome and the Vatican Departments (called Congregations), on the other. Instances include the 1974 Synod of Bishops, the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, the 1998 Asian Synod, and the Pontifical Commission Population Family and Birth that presented its recommendations to Roman Bishop Montini (throne name Paul VI) in 1966.

In Living Vatican II the author refers frequently to his extensive travels and numerous publications. Presumably intended to personalize his presentation, these multiple allusions to his own accomplishments interrupt the flow of the text and undercut a sense of critical analysis.

My main criticism of the book is that O'Collins, like many other authors, treats the Vatican texts as icons rather than as privileged but historically conditioned witnesses to the Christian Tradition. He doesn't explicitly treat of the ambiguity of the council documents, which affects their varied reception, and he fails to place the decrees in the context of doctrinal development. This especially affects his discussion of topics like religious liberty, collegiality, and interfaith dialog.

O'Collins' practice of referring to council decrees by their Latin titles is confusing to the ordinary reader. At least, he should have provided a list of the topics of sixteen decrees, e.g. "Lumen Gentium = On the Church."

These criticisms aside, O'Collins provides a wealth of historical data that could be a guide to further study.

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