Vatican II Notebook (HARDBACK)
Fifty years after Vatican II, historians are still discovering documents and letters that offer important insights into the Council’s meaning. This brief journal written by Marie-Dominique Chenu, masterfully edited by Alberto Melloni, is such a document. It reveals the decisive role Chenu played in several initiatives that shaped the Council’s character; but, more importantly, it brings to light the dynamic networking of bishops and theologians that lay behind the Council’s achievement of so much in so few years. Covering the years 1962-1963, Chenu’s Notebook allows readers to feel the drama of the Council’s opening period. Chenu was a French Dominican friar, a renowned historian, and a theologian with extraordinary creative insight. He shaped the Dominican study center, Le Saulchoir, as its director and as an influential professor from the late 1920s until he was removed by the Vatican in 1942 (for writing a theological program for the school that sounded much like the future Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World). He influenced two generations of scholars with his rare combination of scientific excellence and pastoral wisdom. At the Council, he promoted and drafted its great Message to the World that was the Council’s first published statement. In it, many of Chenu’s key intuitions became part of an official church statement about its hope for the future: attention to the ‘signs of the times’, the integration of science and technology into the Church’s pastoral message, and commitment to justice and the care of the poor. His Vatican II Notebook is an exciting peek into great moments in a great man’s life.
‘This journal offers insight into a remarkable theologian who both pioneered modern medieval studies and worked with important pastoral movements. He said that Vatican II brought a new direction for the idea of the human person and of the reality of history. At the Council he showed how the Church can live in an era of change amid new theologies conceived for new cultures.’
Thomas O’Meara OP
‘At the Second Vatican Council, as much debate went on outside the council hall as inside it. Marie-Dominique Chenu made a significant impact on this wider conversation that was so vital for the success of Vatican II. He drafted speeches for bishops and, although not a formal member of any drafting commission, he often discussed the key issues with bishops and theologians who were. Chenu’s council journal gives a lively account of this participation and captures the dramatic atmosphere of the council’s first two sessions. With its critical introduction from Alberto Melloni, this book is a significant addition to the English translations of participants’ diaries, so essential for interpreting the spirit and letter of the council. This journal is essential reading for any student of Vatican II.’
Australian Catholic University
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