Journet’s Blind Spot

Why a Great Theologian Feared Vatican II

On Saturday mornings, Charles Journet, (more commonly known simply as Abbé Journet) would take the train from Fribourg to Geneva to teach a course on church history. He would usually stay overnight in Geneva and celebrate the 11 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Church—until the local bishop put a stop to that. Although some people came from far away to listen to Journet’s hour-long sermons, the locals of the parish found that his Masses were much too long and complained about it. If Journet was hurt by the bishop’s decision, he didn’t let it show. In fact he seemed oblivious to whatever concerned only himself. In those years just before the Second Vatican Council, Journet was among the most prominent intellectuals in the church, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he presented himself; there wasn’t a self-important bone in his body. He was the founding editor of the review Nova et Vetera, which was recognized as one of the better theological journals, and he was a close friend of the famous philosopher Jacques Maritain and his wife Raïssa. Journet was in his seventies when I first met him. He was one of several professors of...

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About the Author

Jerry Ryan joined the Little Brothers of Jesus in 1959. He lived and worked with them for more than two decades in Europe and South America. He and his family now live in Massachusetts.