Second Vatican Council

The 1960s: A Catholic Counter-Culture?

Call the generation of which I am an exceedingly junior member either “the Baby Boomers” or the “Generation of ’68” and you evoke two similar but distinct images. The first makes one think of self-indulgent hippies-turned-self-indulgent old people; the second, revolutionaries-become-establishment. While neither is completely accurate, neither is entirely false. Like it or not, the … Read more

Is Vatican II Irrelevant Now?

Is Vatican II irrelevant now in the seventh year of Francis’s pontificate? In one respect, yes; in another, no. Neither explanation is what one might expect at first glance. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI devoted the heart of their respective pontificates to trying to implement—or salvage, depending on one’s perspective—the teachings … Read more

Evangelization, Vatican II, and Censorship

Evangelization can be frustrating. After 25 years evangelizing in my personal life and in official roles with the Church, including as a diocesan Director of Evangelization, I know this well. Few Catholics, of course, would be surprised that evangelization can be arduous. They may be surprised, however, at the way censorship in the Church poses … Read more

Twilight of a Pontificate: An Eyewitness Report

A middle-aged Italian woman exclaimed “he is my favorite pope!” as she stood next to me in Piazza San Pietro, at the conclusion of Pope Benedict’s final public audience. After an initial surprise, I started thinking about why her reaction was different from that of the average person in the street. My main conclusion was … Read more

Vatican II: A Hermeneutic of Continuity or Reform?

Cardinal Kurt Koch who is the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity recently gave an interview in which he remarked that Pope Benedict prefers to call his approach to the Second Vatican Council not a “hermeneutic of continuity” but a “hermeneutic of reform.” The expression using the word “continuity” rather than “reform” … Read more

Art & Liturgy: The Splendor of Faith

This essay originally appeared in the October 1998 edition of Crisis Magazine.   Thirty years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, liturgical reform remains one of the most contested topics of Catholic debate. The subject, most often discussed from either the dogmatic or historical perspective, leaves little time for the powerful role played … Read more

Reform of the Reform

Since the beginning of his pontificate, it has been widely understood that Pope Benedict XVI is working on a “reform of the reform” of the Catholic liturgy. The pope’s statements suggest that his intention is to clear up many of the distortions of Vatican II with regard to the liturgy, to combat widespread liturgical abuses, … Read more

Should popes be made saints?

Pope Benedict paid a visit to Rome’s main synagogue yesterday, where the canonization cause of Pope Pius XII — something of a sore spot in Catholic-Jewish relations these days — was almost guaranteed to come up. (Some in the Jewish community feel he didn’t do enough to combat the Holocaust, but others counter that he … Read more

Sing Like a Catholic

    The season of Lent is upon us, sending one of the few signals Catholic musicians hear outside Christmas and Easter. The message: The music should be sort of slow and penitential, unless we’re talking about one of those cheesy modern upbeat songs about our "Lenten journey" to work for social justice.   Is … Read more

Reconsidering Vatican II

In May 1964, in the middle of the Second Vatican Council, I published a book, The Open Church, an optimistic assessment of the changes in the Catholic Church that I believed the council would produce. I had written it in white-hot haste in my room at the Pensione Baldoni in Rome during a six-week period … Read more

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