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Vatican II in Ireland, Fifty Years On

Essays in Honour of Pádraic Conway


Edited By 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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17 A New Style of Church and Theology After Vatican II


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17 A New Style of Church and Theology After Vatican II

Debates abound and grow more divisive about the interpretation and implementation of Vatican II, its letter and spirit, its continuity and discontinuity with prior Councils and the earlier Christian tradition. Fresh light, at least for me, has been shed on these debates by other contributions in this collection. I have no desire to repeat or to evade the debates in this short reflection. In seeking some further understanding of Gospel and church in the light of Vatican II, I will be guided not just by its debates and documents but by my own “faith-wrestling” with “poetry and politics”, as I sometimes describe the wider if secular sources of “revelation”, which have preoccupied me for a life-time. One of the fruits of that struggle has been a growing acceptance of the significance of “style” or form in appreciating a particular art object, scientific discovery, communications or political system. While context and content are important they are always interdependent with, and sometimes simply dependent on, the style and method involved from which they may never be separated, without serious loss to the observer or participant.

Literary and art critics, writers and artists, very properly to my mind, emphasise the primacy of form in discerning content or meaning. The form shapes even determines the content for many. I encountered, to me, an unusual example of this in preparing a few thoughts...

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