Duomo Press: Featured Book

Excerpts: What’s Been Going On for next
the Past Couple of Hundred Years


john xxiii
   Pope John XXIII

quoteThree Italian Independence Wars shrunk the size of the Papal States. The final blow was delivered in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, when Italian artillery breached the Aurelian Walls of Rome and Italian soldiers entered the city.


The years after Vatican I and before Vatican II were marked by two world wars and by the ongoing tension in the Church between the papacy’s anti-modernist bunker mentality and the scholarship that was beginning to illuminate anew the history of the Church and its theology. … Intellectual life in the Church oscillated between progress in scholarship and a series of papal condemnations of the theologians who were wrestling with the questions raised by that scholarship.


The Council Fathers discussed issues such as the nature of the Church, the nature of the liturgy, religious freedom, the role of the bishops, the relationship of the Catholic Church to other faiths, the proper approach to Scriptural analysis and interpretation, and the relationship of the Church to the modern world. Discussions were quite visceral, not only in the debates but behind- the-scenes.


During the Council, the bishops, acting collegially, turned Vatican II into the most significant religious event of the twentieth century. Once the Council ended, however, structures were not in place to maintain the power and voice of the bishops. An ongoing collegial mechanism for episcopal communication, feedback, and consensus simply no longer existed. As a result, fifty years later, the issues of sex and power, which the Council failed to address, have not been addressed by the full body of bishops. It should not be surprising that these are the very issues that continue to roil the Church today.