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Publisher's Summary

Join celebrated Church historian John O'Malley in exploring the biggest meeting in the history of the world.

The Second Vatican Council concluded 50 years ago, but it is a livelier topic today than it has been for decades. Basic questions are being asked. What did the Council do? Was it properly implemented? Are its decisions being systematically "rolled back"?

Good questions, but to answer them good information is needed. Such information is precisely what these 12 insightful lectures provide. You will discover the story of the Council from its convocation by Pope John XXIII in 1959 to its conclusion in 1965. They reveal a dramatic clash between a large majority (85% to 90%) and a small but determined minority. Why did these two groups take their positions so passionately, who were their protagonists, and how did Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI respond?

Explore the issues that rocked the Council. How should the Church deal with non-Christian religions, such as Islam? What is the true nature of the liturgy? How is the Church to deal with the "new churches" emerging in Africa and Asia? Is freedom to choose one's religion compatible with Catholicism? Is there any limit to the authority of the Roman Curia? Why did Pope Paul VI remove certain topics from the agenda?

These lectures will give you the orientation you need to understand one of the most important events of the 20th century, to appreciate the problems it faced, and to grapple with the questions being asked about it (and the Catholic Church) today.

©2009 Now You Know Media Inc. (P)2009 Now You Know Media Inc.

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Fantastic survey!

The most unutterably ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard as a Catholic has come from the mouths of other Catholics ranting against Vatican II and the errors they mistakenly believe came from it.

When asked if they have ever read any of the 16 documents of the Council, invariably they say no, but then go off on a tangent about how some tragically bewigged neocon online told them (insert subject) was all the fault of Vatican II. Often this turns in the direction of a sedevacantist conspiracy theory filled with speculation and calumnies against Paul VI which simply defy rational belief.

Please, criticize all you like! But read the documents and know what you're talking about. (Lumen Gentium is not a lightbulb). Especially in these days of irresponsible media claims about the factions in an increasingly divided Church, we have a responsibility as Catholics to know the truth about our faith's teachings and history, along with giving attention to that which needs deep reform today. I believe a reassessment of the true nature of Vatican II, as opposed to mad distortions of it, would be helpful in healing the divisions in the Church and bringing back a spirit of unity.

Father O'Malley does a fantastic job presenting the bewildering, unwieldy enormity of the Second Vatican Council in a whirlwind tour you're sure to enjoy if you have an interest in recent Church politics and history. Being a good Jesuit, he doesn't waste your time or his words getting to the essential points, from the introduction in which he sets the stage for this greatest of meetings to the four major periods into which he breaks down the process. However, you need to have an interest in this because it is complicated nonetheless. I highly recommend it to every Catholic.

Schadenfreude Alert: In about a month, Pope Paul VI will be raised to the altar as Pope Saint Paul VI. I can't wait. Tragically bewigged ranters, buy yourself a large grappa and deal with it.