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Vatican II: 50 Personal Stories by William Madges and Michael Daley (review)
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Vatican II: 50 Personal Stories. Edited by William Madges and Michael Daley. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012. 300300 pp. $28.00.

inline graphic As we continue to commemorate the fiftieth anniversaries of Vatican II's sessions and documents, it is important to capture the voices of those who were there and who lived the Council's implementation in order to understand where we were, where we are, how we got here, and how to keep moving forward. Toward that end, William Madges and Michael Daley have revisited their Vatican II: Forty Personal Stories (Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 2003). They have added eleven new voices and dropped one. Some entries were reprints or adaptations from other publications or addresses, but most were fresh for the first volume; a number have since been updated, too. This volume continues to benefit from the editors' organization of the material into parts connected to the council's major themes: contexts; liturgy; ecclesiology; revelation, scripture, and tradition; ecumenism and interreligious dialogue; and world issues and social justice.

Readers will have their favorites; it is fair to say that the large majority of voices are progressives, which makes Michael Novak's 2001 essay stand out all the more since it is the rare dissent from the rest of the volume's tone and direction. Joan Chittister's voice remains prophetic, but because her entry reprints the original, it cannot benefit from remarks we'd like to hear on the current state of relations between the Vatican and American women religious. The paradigm shift to change as the new normal is told in a compelling way by Bruce T. Morrill, which represents one of the essays added since the first edition. Ladislas Orsy grabs us when recounting the story of Pope John XXIII's response to a curial complaint that the bishops would run away with the council. "They too have the Spirit," John is reported to have said. Orsy reminds us in his 1999 CTSA talk modified here that "creativity flourishes in a climate of trust." Rosemary Radford Ruether, in a new essay for this collection, continues and captures well the tensions described by Orsy in her offering, "The Conflict of Ecclesiologies in the Legacy of Vatican II." [End Page 100]

Even those essays that haven't been updated bear testimony to the fact that Vatican II is a living council, and so various essays offer evidence of where things stood at a particular moment in time, which is a valuable insight for students and teachers keen on tracking the development of Vatican II's implementation. The inevitable mixture of nostalgia, excitement, disappointment, and hope reminds us that the history of reform needs to take a long view. This collection is not the definitive story, but will be a resource for future researchers, acting as it does as a kind of oral history captured on paper. An interesting task for students or parish discussion groups might be to take a few selections and compare the 2003 and 2012 versions, especially those that have a few more thoughts in the latter paragraphs representing further reflection on another ten years of Vatican II's dynamic pilgrimage. [End Page 101]

Christopher M. Bellitto
Kean University
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