Vatican II Studies Unit
Theme: The Contributions of John O’Malley, SJ, to the Critical Study of Vatican II
Unregistered Participant, Presiding
Saturday - 9:00 AM-11:30 AM
The works of John W. O’Malley, Jesuit historian of Georgetown University, have greatly contributed, thanks also but not only to his internationally acclaimed book "What Happened at Vatican II" (2008) to the critical understanding of conciliar events. His recent book on Trent (2013) and his book on Vatican II represent a major shift in the understanding of the modern conciliar tradition. His forthcoming book on Vatican I promises to give us a new view of the conciliar tradition between Trent and Vatican II. The 2017 session of the Vatican II Studies group reflects on O'Malley's work and its consequences for the scholarship and interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, and on the relevance of historical-theological studies for Roman Catholicism.
Style is Substance: John. W. O'Malley's Contribution to the Study and Interpretation of Vatican II
This paper explores the substantial contribution of John W. O’Malley to the understanding of the event of the Second Vatican Council and to the critical interpretation of its teaching. His many contributions to the study of conciliar history, including the Councils of Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, invite serious reconsideration of many widely-held suppositions. O’Malley’s attention to the rhetorical style of Vatican II’s teaching provides a significant key to an adequate interpretation of its documents. Further, his writings invite us to rethink the place of Vatican II within the broad trajectory of religious and cultural history. In particular, O’Malley’s reconsideration of Jedin’s characterization of the Council of Trent as a moment of “Catholic Reform / Counter-Reformation” in favor of an expression of “Early Modern Catholicism” suggests the possibility of considering Vatican II as a coming of age of Catholicism within the context of modernity.
A Tale of Two Translations: Rhetorical Style and the Post-Conciliar English Translations of the Mass
This paper will compare and contrast a selection of texts from the English translation of the Missale Romanum, that of The Sacramentary (1974/1985) and the corresponding texts of the current translation, the Roman Missal, the most recent English translation (2010), along with each translations’ principles and procedures outlined in Comme le prévoit (1969) and Liturgiam authenticam (2001), respectively the first and fifth instructions from the curial offices concerned with implementing the Second Vatican Council’s liturgical reforms. The paper will examine how the style of these two sets of instructions on translation, along with that of the ritual text translations they produced, compare with the rhetorical style of the council as described by John O’Malley, and will conclude with a theological consideration of the implications of such a rhetorical approach to matters of liturgical praxis.
What happens when we see them through the lens of the Council? John W. O’Malley, “parishization,” and Vatican II
The historiography of progressive Catholic intellectuals from the first half of the twentieth century tends to veer in the direction of the Second Vatican Council, where many did have an impact. Drawing on two distinct insights from John W. O’Malley – the power of studying the Church humanistically and the concerns over what he called “the parishization” of Catholicism -- I want to ask: what are the perils and rewards for seeing early twentieth-century progressive Catholics as precursors to Vatican II? Does it risk enacting what O’Malley called a kind of “parishization” of their activism and work? When we dig in, humanistically, to their lives and ideas, does their gradual absorption into the Council have a narrowing, or an enlarging, effect? To think through these questions, I offer examples from a community men and women who worked in France and Egypt to forge a more humane understanding of Islam between 1930-1960. Interested primarily in unearthing Islamic mystical texts and practices, they also laid the foundations for many changes later promulgated at Nostra Aetate, but what do we gain and lose from this emphasis?
Pope Francis as an Interpreter of Vatican II: On Implementing the Council’s Style and Substance
One of the contributions by John O’Malley to Vatican II studies is his focus on the “style” of the council’s rhetoric in its documents, as well as the “style” of church it promotes through the substance of its teachings. Unlike his two predecessors, Pope Francis does not often explicitly refer to Vatican II, nor cite detailed passages from its documents. Nevertheless, the pope’s vision for reform of the Catholic Church brings to the fore many of the more significant shifts in style evident in the council debates, in its symbolic gestures, as well as in its final documents. The paper will examine a selection of such elements and show how Pope Francis both embodies those elements in his papal “style,” and brings them explicitly into a new theological synthesis, a synthesis that is thoroughly grounded in a comprehensive interpretation of Vatican II’s vision.