Robert P. Imbelli
Liturgical Press, $19.95, 122 pp.
The Second Vatican Council isn’t over yet, in the view of Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, a systematic theologian recently retired from Boston College, and a longtime contributor to Commonweal. In the preface to this short but valuable and handsomely produced book, Imbelli looks back to the ressourcement and aggiornamento that characterized the efforts of the council, which returned to the early sources of the faith in order to rediscover a deeper sense of tradition, intending to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in a way that addressed the aspirations and concerns of contemporary women and men. Imbelli believes that the council “was able to hold these two movements of rediscovery and renewal in creative tension, channeling the centrifugal forces that could pull them apart.” He notes that the “reception,” and thus the event of the council, is continuing today.
In Imbelli’s view, however, the creative tension that the council embodied has often slackened. Ressourcement thus risks becoming antiquarianism, and aggiornamento can slip into cultural accommodation. Partial and partisan readings of the council’s documents have given rise to fragmentation and polarization. He sees these temptations as symptoms of a more severe...