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New Book Looks at Legacy of Vatican II

boston college theologians contribute to book on vatican ii

Vatican II book

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (July 2015) -- Twelve leading scholars from the United States and Europe have produced essays on the Second Vatican Council for a new book co-edited by School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor Andrea Vicini, S.J. The Legacy of Vatican II has its roots in a 2013 conference of the same name sponsored by STM to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Held during Boston College’s Sesquicentennial celebration, the conference was co-organized by Fr. Vicini and Church historian Massimo Faggioli of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., who serves as the book’s co-editor.

“Vatican II was a very important, transforming event in the Catholic Church,” said Fr. Vicini. “These outstanding scholars have written essays that explore what led to the council and what the council made possible.”

One section of the book explores the contributions of four Jesuit theologians at Vatican II. University Chair in Human Rights and International Justice David Hollenbach, S.J., writes about John Courtney Murray, S.J., whose contributions led to the essential Vatican II document on religious freedom. Other Jesuits considered are Cardinal Augustin Bea, S.J., Henri de Lubac, S.J. and Otto Semmelroth, S.J.

Another section of the book reflects on Vatican II’s key themes of continuity and change. A third section examines Vatican II’s engagement in the public arena. Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology Richard R. Gaillardetz writes on humility and the council's theology of worldly engagement. STM Professor John F. Baldovin, S.J., using the funeral Masses for the Kennedy family as signposts, reflects on liturgical reform and the public role of the Catholic Church. Monan Professor of Theology Lisa Sowle Cahill examines the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, or the Church in the modern world.

In the book’s opening essay, Vatican II’s legacy is tied directly to the papacy and works of Pope Francis. According to Fr. Vicini, “Vatican II represented a turning point. It is a mistake to resist transformation. Vatican II was not change for the sake of change or change for fashion’s sake. It was about being true to the Gospel. Change should be embraced, with discernment.

“Today, we should continue to be attentive to what God is telling us,” he added. “We should let the Spirit guide us.”