The Washington Post
What Happened at Vatican IIby John W. O'Malley, S. J.
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.
The Washington Post
From 1961 to 1965, the world closely watched the proceedings of Vatican II, the Catholic Church's council on the condition and future of the faith. Georgetown historian O'Malley presents the most thorough account of the proceedings of the council itself, from the time it was declared in 1959 until its conclusion in 1965, fulfilling the book's title. O'Malley gives a thorough and detailed history of the event, situating it in the longer history of the church and previous councils. But the bulk of the book concerns the characters and controversies of Vatican II itself, "the biggest meeting in the history of the world." Though challenged by a conservative minority, the progressive majority of Vatican II reoriented and refashioned the Catholic Church: opening it to ecumenical relations, declaring its support for religious liberty and ending the practice of the Latin Mass. Infusing the council was the spirit of aggiornamento-Italian for "updating." O'Malley shows how Vatican II allowed the church to modernize while also remaining true to its traditions and convictions. (Sept.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Roman Catholic Church is nearing the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, a council that unquestionably had profound influences both ecclesiastically and in society at large. This book is an absolutely brilliant recapitulation of the council, an insightful analysis of its proceedings and conclusions, and a solid foundation from which to grasp contemporary Catholicism. The clearly written and accessible text explores and summarizes the historical underpinnings of Vatican II while explaining modern influences and trends. A priest, O'Malley (University Professor, Georgetown Univ.) invites readers to experience uniquely the dynamic movements of the four-year council. Relying on source documents and the divergent positions of particular bishops, O'Malley creates a vivid account that enables readers to experience Vatican II firsthand 50 years on. His is not a commentary on Vatican II but an interpretative analysis, balanced and grounded, of the modern world's most significant gathering of Catholic bishops. It is truly a text of today, employing the added benefit of hindsight. The book includes a chronology, biographical descriptions of cited council fathers, an expanded notes section, and a helpful index. O'Malley's own Four Cultures of the West is a wonderful companion to this title. Highly recommended for all libraries.
John Leonard Berg
Peter S. Steinfels
Edward T. Oakes, S. J.
Bernard P. Prusak
Thomas J. Shelley
T. M. Izbicki
John L. Allen Jr.
Hilmar M. Pabel
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What People are Saying About This
Francis Sullivan, Boston College
Jared Wicks, Professor emeritus, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome
Kenneth L. Woodward, Newsweek Contributing Editor and author of Making Saints
Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age
Meet the Author
John W. O’Malley is University Professor at Georgetown University.
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An historical and easily readible account of the historical forces, theological stances and the personalities that all came together between 1962 and 1965 in Rome at Vatican Council II. For anyone wanting to know the background and context out of which the Council rose as well as how it attempted to remain true to the doctrines and traditions of the past as well as turning its face to the future, this is a must read. Helps to understand the stance of the Church on the great issues and movements during the late 20th and early 21st centuries as it continues its divinely given institution and mission.
The author did a good job on this.