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What Happened at Vatican II [Hardcover]

By John W. O'Malley (Author)
Our Price $ 25.46  
Retail Value $ 29.95  
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Item Number 90893  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   400
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.42" Width: 6.44" Height: 1.21"
Weight:   1.66 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 30, 2008
Publisher   Belknap Press
ISBN  0674031695  
EAN  9780674031692  

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Alternate Formats List Price Our Price Item Number Availability
Hardcover $ 29.95 $ 25.46 90893
Paperback $ 22.50 $ 22.05 1069755 In Stock
Item Description...

During four years in session, Vatican Council II held television audiences rapt with its elegant, magnificently choreographed public ceremonies, while its debates generated front-page news on a near-weekly basis. By virtually any assessment, it was the most important religious event of the twentieth century, with repercussions that reached far beyond the Catholic church. Remarkably enough, this is the first book, solidly based on official documentation, to give a brief, readable account of the council from the moment Pope John XXIII announced it on January 25, 1959, until its conclusion on December 8, 1965; and to locate the issues that emerge in this narrative in their contexts, large and small, historical and theological, thereby providing keys for grasping what the council hoped to accomplish.

What Happened at Vatican II captures the drama of the council, depicting the colorful characters involved and their clashes with one another. The book also offers a new set of interpretive categories for understanding the council’s dynamics---categories that move beyond the tired “progressive” and “conservative” labels. As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the calling of the council, this work reveals in a new way the spirit of Vatican II. A reliable, even-handed introduction to the council, the book is a critical resource for understanding the Catholic church today, including the pontificate of Benedict XVI.


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More About John W. O'Malley

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! John W. O'Malley, Ph.D. (1966) in History, Harvard University, is University Professor at Georgetown University. He has published extensively on various aspects of early modern Catholicism. His latest book is Trent: What Happened at the Council (Harvard, 2013).

John W. O'Malley has an academic affiliation as follows - Theology Department.

John W. O'Malley has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Jesuit Studies

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General   [5549  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism   [2524  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Catholic   [1161  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology   [1097  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History   [4688  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Faithful history  Feb 27, 2009
Both an entertaining and sobering history of one of the greatest religious events of the past several hundred years. Father O'Malley provides a summary of the Catholic Church's struggle to adapt to the modern world since the French Revolution. The story of the Council itself is an engrossing tale of determined reformers and intransigent sabotage by a tiny minority. Paul VI's well-intentioned interventions toward the end of the Council appear to have done more harm than good. The author avoids any discussion of the current trends within the Church. For example, he does not discuss how the reforms of liturgical expression and the role of National Conferences of Bishops were steadily reversed during the papacies of John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)and Benedict XVI (Josef Ratzinger). He avoids making any prediction regarding the impact of the Council within the life of the Roman Church in the future.
A Must-Read  Dec 24, 2008
If you are looking for the one book you will read on the meaning of the Second Vatican Council, search no further for you have found it in What Happened at Vatican II . Fr,. O'Malley is both a church historian and an historian of culture, recognized as the best in his field. These two areas of his expertise combine marvelously in this ground-breaking study of Vatican II. Whereas other historians of the Council catalogue its proceedings, Fr. O'Malley cogently and convincingly explains what the impact of those proceedings were for the history of the Roman Catholic Church. He deftly demonstrates how Vatican II diverged from previous councils in style as much as substance. By abandoning the language of the Roman Senate that had characterized previous Roman Catholic Church councils, Vatican II spoke to the People of God without condemnation and anathema. In this sense, the wishes of Pope John XXIII for a pastoral rather than a doctrinal council were realized.

Fr. O'Malley's engaging writing style brings all of the major players of the Council to life. He eschews simplistic explanations and gets to the heart of the matter in each of the four periods that the Council met between 1962-1965.

At a time when some in the Roman Catholic Church actually repudiate Vatican II and attempt to claim that nothing of import really happened at the Council, Fr. O'Malley presents a vibrant and vital portrayal of the reform that the Council intended for the Roman Catholic Church. One of his most poignant insights is that those who would downplay the significance of Vatican II for the history of the Roman Catholic Church actually do the Council a great disservice by denying it the greatness that it had hoped for in its reform of the Catholic Church. Fr. O'Malley's assessment of the Council puts the lie to their denial.

You will not be disappointed by this book. Not only is it a pleasure to read, but it is also a repository of full and substantive factual information on what happened at Vatican II.
What happened at Vatican II? The answer is lots!  Oct 28, 2008
I just finished reading What happened at Vatican II? I enjoyed it thoroughly. The history of the council reads like such a novel!

I particularly enjoyed learning about Maximos IV whom I had not heard of before. He played a significant role reminding the council fathers that Catholicism was much bigger and complex than the Western Church, and he did this with elegance and audacity to boot.

And of course there is the role of Paul VI, what a contrast from John XXIII's approach to the everyday running of the council. Paul's suggestions to the council were interventions that undermined the new emphasis on collegiality that the council fathers were experiencing and writing about in the council.

But most of all I think the hermeneutic O'Malley offers in the final chapter to account for the center-periphery, change, and style issues that run through the pre-conciliar church, the council and our own times is brilliant and helps to move the state of the question beyond continuity and discontinuity or liberals vs conservatives.

Thank you and congratulations!
A Good Book for the General Reader  Oct 15, 2008
What Happened at Vatican II is an excellent and interesting book I can recommend to any general reader. While it details in strong and readable narrative, the people and activities of a specific religious group, the Catholic Church, anyone with an interest in human nature, world events, history, and faith will find this well-written book valuable. O'Malley is a strong writer who never loses the reader in the complexities of the event, the people, and the ideas. He also avoids grinding axes even with the incredible explosiveness of the ideas and personalities involved in Vatican II.

As a person trained in communication research, I was particularly interested and fascinated in reading about the procedures and networks of communication that drove Vatican II. The Catholic Church is the oldest human institution on earth and is layered with hundreds of years of ritual, procedure, canon law, and tradition. Yet within what one might easily misperceive as an ossified organization, the play of human nature and the role of communication were vital to the outcome of Vatican II. O'Malley draws a compelling case study of how people act in a complex decision making event even with such an old, established hierarchy.

For people of any faith or ethical tradition, this book would also be valuable source for reflection upon your own theology, ethics, and values. O'Malley provides excellent descriptions of the ideas and policies the Catholic leadership considered during Vatican II (plus you can visit the Vatican website to read the complete documents if you are that interested - I found it useful to read O'Malley's descriptions with my computer on a good search engine). Even if you are not a strong Catholic, you can still appreciate the questions, arguments, and decisions made at Vatican II and wonder upon them for your own growth.

This is a history book and not a polemic. O'Malley does not preach from this pulpit, but rather provides a clear, compelling, interesting, and useful look of the people in that pulpit.


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