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"Loopy Interpretations of Vatican II"???:

I have had to fly to Seattle from Newark and back twice in the past two weeks or so. In addition to affording the opportunity for uninterrupted work, these transcontinental flights also offer the opportunity for guilt free web-surfing (thank you GoGo--the airline internet!).In catching up up on the papal transition, I came across an article by Dr. Tracey Rowland--the Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, Australia, entitled "The Pope and the Philistines." Written before the election of Pope Francis, it is clear that she wanted--even, say, expected, someone more like Benedict, about whom she's written a great deal. Cardinal Bergolio was not listed as an example of the kind of "hero-cardinal" she wanted to see assume the papacy after Benedict.Piqued by her dismissal of "loopy interpretations of Vatican II," I poked around further, to see what she said about Gaudium et Spes. This is what I found; I realize, of course, that I'm dealing with material for the popular press, not an academic book. But I think it frames the questions I want to ask those who are more expert in this area than I am:How do you think FSJ's interpretation of Gaudium et Spes will differ from JPII's and B16's? --Will Dr. Rowland consider him "loopy"? Or is there a third way? Is it significant that FSJ did his doctorate on a theologian who was also extremely influential on B16: Romano Guardini. If so, how?

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



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A couple of years ago, I did a critique of Rowland's book Culture and the Thomist Tradition in which she begins with a critique of Gaudium et spes and then goes on to propose a "post-modern Augustinian Thomism" as the way forward. You'll see that she appeals to MacIntyre at many points in her argument. My essay was published and you can find it here: is FSJ?

I'm promoting that as Francis's nickname!

I hope it doesn't catch on. Infelicitous. His name is Francis.

In his reflections on the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II, Beneditch was unenthusiastic about Gaudim et Spes " Then there was also the group of themes: Revelation Scripture Tradition Magisterium. For the French, the subject of the relationship between the Church and the modern world came increasingly to the fore in other words the work of the so-called Schema XIII, from which the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World later emerged. This point touches on the real expectations of the Council. The Church, which during the Baroque era was still, in a broad sense, shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun. Did it have to remain so? Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era? Behind the vague expression todays world lies the question of the relationship with the modern era. To clarify this, it would have been necessary to define more clearly the essential features that constitute the modern era. Schema XIII did not succeed in doing this. Although the Pastoral Constitution expressed many important elements for an understanding of the world and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, it failed to offer substantial clarification on this point."

Sorry, the emphasis should have been bold, not italics.

I have seen some reports that Father Bergoglio, then in his early fifties, did not finish the doctorate. If he did, does anyone know the title and something of its content?

John Page,I have seen similar reports: that Bergoglio considered a dissertation on Guardini, but did not follow through. Reportedly, his favorite work of Guardini is "The Lord."

The Catholic World Report? O my gosh--on a transatlantic flight? I hope they gave you extra peanuts at least.

John: you didn't really mean that typo on your first line when mentioning our retired pope, did you?Joe: my goodness! In my field we communicate with the authors directly and resolve errors in private discussions. If the others do not cooperate, we either do not cite their work or cite it with the ominous words: "Related work: in x, the authors claim that xxx," with no further comment, and the attentive reader is left to infer that we suspect or know that the arguments in x are faulty. We would never do a frontal attack of that kind.

Regarding Francis' dissertation, see here: I am an unreliable typist on my iPad. I didn't notice the typos in Benedict and Gaudiam until after I had already posted one apology for italics instead of bold. I decided to let it pass without more apologies.

My impression in a nutshell is that JP2 and B16's interpretation of GS was more theological-anthropological, and Francis' interpretation is more theological-historical, which is not surprising for a bishop from Latin America (for more, book "Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning")

Claire: I guess this kind of critique is more common in the humanities. I was asked by the organizers of a conference in Leuven to comment on the uses to which St. Augustine's thought was being put by some recent theologians, and one of the works suggested for comment was Tracey Rowland's. I undertook the task all the more willingly because her book was being cited in certain circles as a legitimate analysis and critique of Gaudium et spes, and I wanted to show how wrong that view of the book was.Here is how I began an essay on the last stage in the elaboration of Gaudium et spes and on the contrasting evaluations of the final text made right after the Council by three theologians who by any account would be considered among the progressives at Vatican II: Marie-Dominique Chenu, Joseph Ratzinger, and Giuseppe Dossetti.

One of the most striking developments in the first decade after the close of the Second Vatican Council was the splintering of the coalition of theologians who, having helped at the first session to break the power of those who had controlled the Councils preparation, had in the succeeding sessions played a major role in deliberations which resulted in conciliar documents marked by a quite different spirit and offering a quite different message to the Church and to the world. This splintering may be symbolized by the founding of two new theological journals, Concilium, whose first issue appeared in 1964, while the Council was still meeting, and Communio, whose first issue appeared in 1972 and whose founders included several theologians who had since resigned from the editorial board of Concilium. It was almost inevitable, then, that the new journal was labelled an anti-Concilium.This development, along with the very rapid collapse of the hegemony enjoyed by the officially sanctioned neo-scholastic theology before the Council as well as the complex phenomena entailed in what has been called le dplacement de la thologie, suggest the need to study the theological dynamics of Vatican II with a heuristic model more discerning than what Giuseppe Alberigo, echoing Joseph Ratzinger, criticized as the elementary and rough opposition that people like to make between a curial tendency and a progressive tendency.

You can find the entire text here:

I've just (2days ago) learned from John Conelly how was the battle for Nostra Etatae by Fr. J.Osstereich (a convert from Judaism). Who knows why did this our Pope, change his baptism name, George for Francis? What's the Hell with ...VaticanII?

Thank you.

Thanks, Joe.It seems, then, that this is a culture war book, not a scholarly book.

Cathy: Well, as I argue, its scholarship leaves a lot to be desired, even though it was her doctoral dissertation at Cambridge, no less. I do think you can have a scholarly culture-war book, but this isn't it.

Today Robert Moynihan reports that Pope Francis might actually publish an encyclical this year, and it might be a completion of the encyclical on faith that Pope Benedict had been writing:"". . . it is "not to be excluded," Father Lombardi said, that Pope Francis will publish his first encyclical before the end of the year. Lombardi noted that Emeritus Pope Benedict had prepared a portion of the text for an encyclical on faith, for this "Year of Faith," so that will likely be the theme of Francis's first encyclical. "Scholars will have to parse out, some day, perhaps, the way Pope Francis uses the material already prepared by Benedict: how much Francis keeps, how much he changes, how much he sets aside." that Benedict has had second thoughts about G et S and Francis seems to be enthusiastic about it, the new hybrid encyclical should prove very interesting indeed.

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