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St. John Paul II and the “Tyranny of the Possible”

The reputations of the great often diminish over time. Ten years after his holy death on April 2, 2005, Karol Wojtyla, Pope St. John Paul II, looms even larger than he did when the world figuratively gathered at his bedside a decade ago: tens of millions of men and women around the world who felt impelled, and privileged, to pray with him through what he called his “Passover”—his liberation through death into a new life of freedom in the blazing glory of the Thrice-Holy God. Continue Reading »

Ecumenism After 50 Years

On 21 November 1964, the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, was approved by the Second Vatican Council. Although this document had been much debated and revised through several drafts, the final vote by the Council fathers was overwhelming: 2,137 in support and only eleven in opposition. This confirmed what everyone knew as the Council approached the close of its third session, namely, that one of the principal concerns of only the second ecumenical council convened since the Protestant Reformation was “the restoration (or reintegration) of unity among all Christians.” Continue Reading »

Vatican II and the Berlin Wall

History sometimes displays the happy capacity to arrange anniversaries so that one sheds light on another. On Nov. 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI solemnly promulgated the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which began by proclaiming Christ the “light of the nations” and is thus known as Lumen Gentium. Continue Reading »

The Domestic Church

Here’s something shocking that the bishops said about marriage—not the bishops in the Synod in Rome right now, but the Fathers of Vatican II. In Gaudium et Spes, they said that the task of being a father or mother is a munus, a Latin word that means service, gift, duty, and office. Continue Reading »

Clearing the Waters

had the privilege of working for Blessed John Paul II for nine years. As a young priest, I worked in the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, and my boss, or perhaps my boss’s boss, was Pope John Paul II. Continue Reading »

The Tridentine Genius of Vatican II

Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, two schools of thought dominate the interpretation of that event. One derives from the theology surrounding the post-conciliar journal Concilium, founded by theologians like Hans Küng and Edward Schillebeeckx. It advances a progressivist . . . . Continue Reading »

What Really Happened at Vatican II

What Happened at Vatican II by John W. O’Malley Harvard University Press, 372 pages, $29.95 Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition edited by Matthew Lamb and Matthew Levering Oxford University Press, 462 pages, $29.95 When asked what he thought about the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai, China’s . . . . Continue Reading »

Theology After the Revolution

Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians: From Chenu to Ratzinger by fergus kerr blackwell, 240 pages, $29.95 Over the last decade, a Scottish Dominican named Fergus Kerr has produced a series of books designed to orient readers to contemporary trends. In the 1997 Immortal Longings, he discussed a . . . . Continue Reading »

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