Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yves Congar and Vatican II

I liked this article by Fr. Robert Barron about Cardinal Yves Congar's experience of the Second Vatican Council:
One of the most theologically fascinating and just plain entertaining books I've read in a long time is Yves Congar's My Journal of the Council.

Catholics of a certain age will recognize the name, but I'm afraid that most Catholics under the age of 50 might be entirely unaware of the massive contribution made by Congar, a Dominican priest and certainly one of the three or four most important Catholic theologians of the twentieth century. After a tumultuous intellectual career, during which he was, by turns, lionized, vilified, exiled and silenced, Congar found himself, at the age of 58, a peritus or theological expert at the Second Vatican Council...

During the entire course of the Council, from October 1962 to December 1965, Congar kept a meticulous journal of the proceedings, which includes not only detailed accounts of the interventions by various bishops and Cardinals, but also extremely perceptive commentaries on the key personalities and the main theological currents of the Council. Several times as I read through the journal, I laughed out loud at Congar's pointed assessments of some of the players: "a bore," "useless," "talks too much." But what most comes through is -- if I can risk employing an overused and ambiguous phrase -- "the spirit of the Council," by which I mean those seminal ideas and attitudes that found expression in the discussions, debates and texts of Vatican II.

In the pages of Congar's journal we hear of a church that should be more evangelical and open to the Word of God, of the dangers of clerical triumphalism, of the universal call to holiness, of a liturgy that awakens the active participation of the faithful, of the need for the church to engage the modern world, etc. Attending meeting after meeting and engaging in endless conversations with bishops and theologians, Congar was indefatigably propagating these ideas, which we now take to be commonplace and the permanent achievement of Vatican II.
Read the whole thing!

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