True and False Reform in the Church

Overview

Archbishop Angelo Roncali (later Pope John XXIII) read True and False Reform during his years as papal nuncio in France and asked, A reform of the church 'is such a thing really possible?" A decade later as pope, he opened the Second Vatican Council by describing its goals in terms that reflected Congar's description of authentic reform: reform that penetrates to the heart of doctrine as a message of salvation for the whole of humanity, that retrieves the meaning of prophecy in a living church, and that is deeply...

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True and False Reform in the Church

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Overview

Archbishop Angelo Roncali (later Pope John XXIII) read True and False Reform during his years as papal nuncio in France and asked, A reform of the church 'is such a thing really possible?" A decade later as pope, he opened the Second Vatican Council by describing its goals in terms that reflected Congar's description of authentic reform: reform that penetrates to the heart of doctrine as a message of salvation for the whole of humanity, that retrieves the meaning of prophecy in a living church, and that is deeply rooted in history rather than superficially related to the apostolic tradition. Pope John called the council not to reform heresy or to denounce errors but to update the church's capacity to explain itself to the world and to revitalize ecclesial life in al its unique local manifestations. Congar's masterpiece fills in the blanks of what we have been missing in our reception of the council and its call to "true reform."

Yves Congar, OP, a French Dominican who died in 1995, was the most important ecclesiologist in modern times. His writings and his active participation in Vatican II had an immense influence upon the council documents. With a few other contemporaries, Congar pioneered a new style of theological research and writing that linked the great tradition of Scripture and the Fathers to contemporary pastoral questions with lucidity and passion. His key concerns were the unity of the church, lay apostolic life, and a revival of the church's theology of the Holy Spirit. He was named a cardinal by Pope John Paul II in recognition of his profound contributions to the Second Vatican Council.

Pal Philibert, OP, has taught pastoral theology in the United States and abroad. He is a Dominican friar of the Southern Province. His translation of a collection of Congar's essays on the liturgy has recently been published by Liturgical Press under the title At the Heart of Christian Worship. His book The Priesthood of the Faithful: Key to a living Church (Liturgical Press, 2005) reflects the ecclesiology of Yves Congar and his Vision of the apostolic life of the faithful.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Next to its value for actual pastoral theology and practice, this translation is noteworthy for making available to an English-speaking audience a work of Congar that is crucial in understanding not only his ecclesiology, but also his perspective on ecumenism and Tradition.
Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses

True and False Reform in the Church is one of the most important books in the history of theology in the twentieth century. Fifty years after the opening of Vatican II, the publication of this translation is not just an act of remembrance, but of hope.
Massimo Faggioli, University of Saint Thomas, Author of True Reform

True and False Reform in the Church should be read by all pastors and thinking Christians. It is rightly ranked among the most important theological works of the twentieth century whose renewing power is now happily re-issued for a contemporary readership.
Patrick Hayes, PhD, Redemptorist Archives of the Baltimore Province, CatholicBooksReview.org

The book is an object lesson of how the theology of reform ought to be done, rather than a set of ready-made theological answers. And because it is on a subject that needs very much to be theologized about today – and on which there are few if any comparable classics – it needs to be read…. If we could get contemporary theologians who have gone cool on Vatican II – or at least have begun to be choosy about what they learn from it – to read Congar on reform in the Church we might be able to have a more productive dialogue with them, and a dialogue that would give Vatican II its due weight. Both of us would have to be prepared to situate the Council within the fullness of the apostolic tradition and to let that understanding dictate how the reforms begun at the council need to be continued in the world of today.
Liam G. Walsh, OP, Doctrine and Life

What a delight to have this readable translation of Congar's classic work on reform of the Church's life, worship, and mission! Originally published in 1950, the book must today be given an important role in any satisfactory account of the movements that prepared and then affected the Second Vatican Council.
Jared Wicks, SJ, The Living Church

The large themes that Congar took up decades ago remain relevant. Theologians, clergy and parish study groups will benefit from a careful reading of True and False Reform.... If it revitalises among anglophone Catholics a prophetic stewardship of the Church’s tradition and development, the Englishing of Congar’s thought will make an important contribution to the life of the Church.
The Tablet

A pioneering masterpiece which set the stage for reform in the Catholic church.
SirReadaLot.org

Congar's True and False Reform in the Church, although now six decades old, is perhaps even more relevant for the life of the church today than it was when he first penned it. This volume reflects the singular virtues of Congar, his fidelity to the Great Tradition, his generous ecumenical spirit, and his commitment to authentic ecclesial reform as a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit. This elegant yet precise translation by Paul Philibert makes widely accessible what is, perhaps, Congar's most important work.
Richard R. Gaillardetz, PhD
Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies
The University of Toledo

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814656938
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Yves Congar, OP, who died in 1995, was a French Dominican widely recognized as one of the most important Roman Catholic theologians of the twentieth century and a major influence upon the theology of the documents of Vatican II. Congar drew from biblical, patristic, and medieval sources to revitalize the discipline of contemporary theology. He was an early advocate of ecumenism and also contributed to shaping the theological agenda of the twentieth-century liturgical movement. He was named a cardinal in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. Liturgical Press has also recently published At the Heart of Christian Worship: Liturgical Essays of Yves Congar and Congar's classic work True and False Reform in the Church.

Paul Philibert, OP, has taught pastoral theology in the United States and abroad. He is a Dominican friar of the Southern Province. His translation of a collection of Congar's essays on the liturgy has been published by Liturgical Press under the title At the Heart of Christian Worship. His book The Priesthood of the Faithful: Key to a Living Church (Liturgical Press, 2005) reflects the ecclesiology of Yves Congar and his vision of the apostolic life of the faithful.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Introduction xi

Preface to the Second Edition (1967) 1

Foreword 9

The Methodology of This Study 11

The Plan of the Book 15

Introduction (1950) 19

I The Church Is Constantly Reforming Itself 19

II Contemporary Self-Criticism and Reformism (Especially in France) 22

III The Church Today: How Did Self-Criticism Become Suspect? 29

IV Four Traits of Contemporary Self-Criticism 36

V The Reasons for Today's Self-Criticism: A Passion for Authenticity 40

VI Applying These Insights: The Need to Adapt or Revise 45

Part 1 Why and How Does the Church Reform Itself?

1 The Church's Holiness and Our Failures 55

I The Point of View of Antiquity and That of the Present with Respect to the Problem of Evil in the Church 55

II The Teachings of the Bible, the Fathers, and the Magisterium 62

Holy Scripture 63

The Fathers: Their Theology Is Essentially "Symbolic" 69

The Teaching of the Magisterium and of Theologians 76

III Principles for a Solution: Several Meanings of the Word "Church" 82

God Alone Is Infallible 82

Two Aspects of the Church: Institution and Community 84

Four Meanings of the Word "Church" 88

Additional Remarks on This Theme 90

IV Application of These Principles: Holiness and Failure in Light of the Different Meanings of Church 92

In Its Formal Principles (Given by God) the Church Is Infallible 92

As a People Made Up of Human Beings, the Church Is Fallible 95

The Church as the Ensemble of Churchmen or Hierarchical Persons 101

The Concrete Church, Synthesizing the Preceding Elements 111

Excursus: Evil in the Church in the View of Several Contemporary Theologians 114

2 Why and in What Way Do the People of God Need to Be Reformed? 117

I God's Plan and How God's People Should Respond to It: Situating the Problem of Reform 117

II The Need for Reform in Light of the Temptation to "Pharisaism" 135

III The Need for Reform in Light of the Temptation To Become a "Synagogue" 147

3 Prophets and Reformers 169

Prophets: Their Role and Their Character 172

Prophecy in the Church 176

1 Specially Insightful Knowledge about the Things of God 178

2 A Knowledge or Mission Related to Executing God's Plan 183

3 Predicting the Future: "Natural Analogs of Prophecy" 185

The Reform Spirit and Prophecy 187

The Situation of Prophecy within the Church 188

The Perils of Prophetic Activity 189

Why St. Augustine Was a Source of Encouragement for Reformers 191

Schematic Table Summarizing These Points 194

Part 2 Conditions for Authentic Reform Without Schism

The Problem 199

The Possibility of Deviations in Any Reform Movement 199

The Ambivalence of "Seeds" 203

Möhler's Distinction: Gegensatz (Contrast) and Widerspruch (Contradiction) 205

Two Types of One-Sidedness 208

First Condition: The Primacy of Charity and of Pastoral Concerns 215

The Prophetic Initiative Should Not Develop into a System 215

Successful Reforms Were Motivated by Pastoral Concern 218

Reforms That Tried to Create a System Turned Out Badly 224

Second Condition: Remain in Communion with the Whole Church 229

The Whole Truth Is Grasped Only in Communion with the Whole Church 229

This Communion Makes the Difference between Catholic and Schismatic 232

Sentire cum Ecclesia 236

The Center and the Periphery 237

Need for Support from the Base 242

Need for Approval from the Central Powers of the Church 244

"Pneumatological" and "Prophetic" Functioning of the Hierarchy 248

Application of These Principles to Religious Orders (Troeltsch) 249

Being Connected to the Community 254

Communion Justifies the Possibility for a Breakthrough 256

The Responsibility of the Center to Listen to the Periphery 261

Third Condition: Having Patience with Delays 265

The Nature of Patience and Its Role 266

The Boastful Spirit of the Reformers 269

The Link between Impatience and an Intellectual and Dialectical Point of View 274

Blocked by the Church, the Impatient Reformer Appears to Be Persecuted 276

The Church Is Against Ultimatums and the Via Facti 277

The Church's Via Facti vs. the Wrong and Revolutionary Via Facti 280

The Tension that Results for the Faithful Reformer 283

Responsibility of Church Leaders Not to Be Too Patient 284

Fourth Condition: Genuine Renewal through a Return to the Principle of Tradition (Not through the Forced Introduction of Some "Novelty") 291

Two Kinds of Adaptation: As Development and as Innovation 291

Adaptation as Development Comes About through Ressourcement 293

The Church Needs to Live in Contact with Its Deepest Tradition 304

Part 3 The Reformation and Protestantism [omitted in this translation!

Conclusion: Perspectives on the Attitude to Take toward Concrete Reform Initiatives

A About the Élan and Spirit of Reform in General 309

1 For or Against the Idea of Reform 309

2 Among Reformers, the Distinction between the Faithful and the Revolutionaries 321

Medieval Apostolic and Evangelical Movements 322

Sixteenth-Century Reforms 323

Lamennais and Lacordaire 329

B Considering Contemporary Reform (Text from 1950) 335

1 Three Motives for Optimism about Contemporary Reforms (in France) 335

2 The Problem of a Divided Spirit among Catholics 337

Afterword (July 1968) 341

Appendixes

Appendix I Collective Responsibility 349

Appendix II Two Types of Fidelity 365

Appendix III His Holiness Paul VI Speaks about the Reform of the Church (From the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, August 6, 1964) 372

Index of Names 374

Index of Subjects 376

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