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Vatican II in Ireland, Fifty Years On

Essays in Honour of Pádraic Conway


Dermot A. Lane

This book commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, which concluded in 1965. A selection of essays by distinguished Irish theologians offers an objective assessment of the historical reception and pastoral implementation of Vatican II in Ireland with the benefit of half a century’s hindsight. The authors discuss from a variety of different perspectives the theological significance of the Council for the self-understanding and reform of the Catholic church, both in the past and for the future.
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15 The Future of Collegiality


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15 The Future of Collegiality

Vatican II still has the capacity to stand in judgment over the state of the church today. This is because the Council did its work well and was so thoroughly and enthusiastically received that it effected a total transformation of the landscape of Catholicism, regrounding liturgy and theology in a broad biblical vision, opening paths of ecumenical and interreligious understanding, and establishing a new framework for Catholic life and thought that has proved impossible to overturn.

Yet in some respects the Council, by its incompletion, also stands in judgment on itself. Inconsistencies, weakness, and vagueness in the “letter” of its texts force us to elicit its “spirit,” or its dialectically necessary continuation. To remember Vatican II is to hear the voice of something struggling to be born, and to renew the hope that this something, the “new order of human relationships” promised by John XXIII in his opening speech (“Gaudet mater ecclesia”), can become a reality in the church and the world. The church was to become a model of human community, a place marked by joyful discussion and sharing, a network of hospitality, in which everyone could exercise their particular role in an enriching collaboration with the others. On that basis Catholics could undertake a new creative outreach to other churches and religions and to the secular world. Pádraic Conway contributed much in the fifty years accorded him to shape that “new...

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