History of Vatican II,ed. by Giuseppe Alberigo; English version ed. by Joeph A. Komonchak (review) Vol. I:Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II: Toward a New Era in Catholicism
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 84, Number 4, October 1998
- pp. 719-722
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- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS719 historical background for Egan's book includes many familiar places and events—Yalta, Potsdam, the Iron Curtain, the Indian Partition, the World Refugee Year, the Hungarian Revolution, the Berlin Wall, and the Vietnam War. Against this backdrop, from her own personal experience with CRS, Egan recounts the saga ofthe refugees. The journey begins with a group of Polish D.R's resettled on a hacienda at Santa Rosa, Mexico, and moves on to a wartime refugee office in Barcelona, to a D.P. office in Hoechst, Germany, to an Escapee Reception Camp near Nuremberg, to a lamasary of exiled Tibetan monks at Varanasi, India, to a Maryknoll-run refugee center in Hong Kong, to the CRS office in Saigon. Along the way Egan introduces the reader to the individuals who comprise the refugee world—parentless children and childless parents, families , the elderly, and, in the case ofVietnam, whole villages. There are several pitfalls in writing about the postwar refugee problem. One is that the text will devolve into a tiresome mass of meetings, organizations, legislation , and, worst of all, acronyms—NKVD, NCWC, CRS, CRALOG, UNRRA, AJJDC, IRO, PCIRO, and USEP among others. Another is that the reader will be either overwhelmed by or inured to the sorrow and suffering as the numbers reach staggering proportions. Miss Egan leads her readers past these dangers by effectively following two approaches to her story. For one, she always balances the refugee plight with the positive aspects of the story. Thus, we learn of the hospitality of the local Mexican government and people as the Polish refugees slowly integrate into their new surroundings. We see the selfless co-operation that grows between the charitable agencies of different religious groups, and between these groups and the various governmental organisms and nongovernmental agencies. We are impressed with the heroism and sense of esprit de corps exhibited by the CRS workers who, like Miss Egan herself, sacrifice whole portions oftheir lives on behalfof suffering humanity. Most of all,we see the refugees as Miss Egan saw them, not as numbers, but as individuals with names and faces and stories that engage us. For Whom There Ls No Room has secured a place among the historical literature of the postwar era by putting a human face on the plight of the refugees. Raymond J. Kupke Florham Park, Newfersey History of Vatican II, Vol. I: Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II: Toward a New Era in Catholicism. Edited by Giuseppe Alberigo; English version edited by Joeph A. Komonchak. (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis; Leuven, Belgium: Peeters. 1995. Pp. xviii, 527. $80.00.) CarlJoseph Hefele alone was able to write the history of provincial and general councils to the mid-fifteenth century in seven volumes, and Hubert Jedin alone was able to write the history of the Council of Trent in four volumes 720BOOK REVIEWS (bound as five), but apparently no single historian is capable ofwriting the history of the Second Vatican Council. Giuseppe Alberigo through the Istituto per Ie Scienze Religiose in Bologna has been promoting research and publication on this council for many years, and the resulting books and articles have been useful to him and the other four contributors to this volume. It would have been helpful to readers, however, to append a bibliography of these and other previously published works, and a stricter editorial control would have prevented repetitions and overlapping in the five chapters. In the first chapter Professor Alberigo himself takes up "The Announcement of the Council," concluding that the decision to convoke it was entirely John XXILTs own, "a free and independent decision," "the fruit of a personal conviction of the pope" (p. 1 3). In fifty-four pages he sketches the pontiff's earlier life, reviews the reactions to the announcement in Catholic circles and among nonCatholic Christians, in the diplomatic sphere and in the press, and traces the development of the defining of the character ofthe council (ecumenical, pastoral, and turned toward the modern world but still in many respects traditional). The author speaks of "the suffocation from which contemporary Christianity was suffering" (p. 43)—a description that hardly rings true for American Catholicism ,which was expanding in every way...