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Vatican II Studies Unit

Call for Proposals

Sacrosanctum Concilium: Emblem of Conciliar Reform after 60 Years

The renewal of Vatican II was experienced most immediately and visibly through the reform of the liturgy. Similarly, resistance to this reform continues to be the harbinger of all other debates surrounding the role and perception of Vatican II in contemporary Catholicism. As we mark the 60th anniversary of Sacrosanctum concilium in 2023, we invite paper proposals addressing: the implementation of the liturgical reform of Vatican II, especially in multi-cultural and racially diverse Catholic contexts, in its historical and contemporaneous expressions, and from Latin and Eastern rite Catholic perspectives; the relationship between criticism of the liturgical reform and criticism of Vatican II in militant Catholic groups, including reactions to pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes; the ecclesiology implied in the Constitution on the Liturgy and the work of the post-conciliar commission for the reform of the Roman Rites; the influence Catholic reforms on the renewal of the liturgy in other Christian churches, including the role of the Consultation on Common Texts and the Common Lectionary.


Rahner’s World Church and Decolonization Today

In his 1979 essay, “Towards a Fundamental Theological Interpretation of Vatican II,” Karl Rahner contends that the council must be understood as the “first official self-actualization” of the church as “world church,” while acknowledging that the it must become inculturated throughout the world to realize this identity in the fullest sense. His thesis includes an interpretation of the changing epochs of Christian history. We invite proposals that explore the continuing significance of Rahner’s interpretation for understanding Vatican II and its reception; Vatican II’s rethinking of the church-world relationship; the nature of epochal shifts and disruptions in human history and their implication for the social location, self-understanding, and mission of Christianity; the growing importance of decolonization for the full inculturation of the church in the contemporary context.

Statement of Purpose

This Unit gives scholarly attention to the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), one of the most significant events in the history of the Catholic Church — an event that had wide-ranging implications for other faiths, other Christian churches, and for the wider world alike. This Unit has a double focus: first, deepening the understanding of the history of Vatican II, its link with movements of renewal in Catholic theology and in the Church in the decades prior to Vatican II, and the history of the reception of the Council, and the redaction history of the different documents of the Council; second, a strong theological on both to the hermeneutical issues connected to methods of interpreting conciliar teaching and its ongoing reception in a changing context. By looking more closely at the past, our Unit hopes to promote greater conciliarity and synodality in the Christian churches in the present. In this second mandate of its presence within the American Academy of Religion, the Vatican II Studies Unit turns its attention to the reception of Vatican II within the various social and cultural contexts of the Americas and elsewhere, and to its continuing influence in the changing context of twenty-first century global Christianity.


Steering Committee Members


Review Process

Proposer names are visible to chairs and steering committee members at all times