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  • Paolo VI "Nel Cono di Luce del Concilio." Discorsi e documenti (1965–1978)
  • Frank J. Coppa
Paolo VI "Nel Cono di Luce del Concilio." Discorsi e documenti (1965–1978). Edited by Marco Vergottini. [Quaderni dell'Istituto Paolo VI, Brescia, 26.] (Rome: Edizioni Studium. 2006. Pp. xxiv, 475. €40,00 paperback.)

The ecclesiastical career of Giovanni Battista Montini before he became Pope Paul VI in June 1963, has been divided into a number of stages, including his work with university students from 1926 to 1933; his collaboration with Eugenio Pacelli, later Pius XII, in the Vatican Secretariat of State from 1934 to 1953; and finally his service as archbishop of Milan from 1954 to 1963. During this last period he was actively involved in the work of the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), an engagement he continued during the first years of his pontificate. His thought, activity, and writings during a good part of his life have been catalogued and published in the twenty-five Quaderni of the Istituto Paolo VI of Brescia, which serves as the international center for his study and documentation. The present publication—Volume 26 in the Quaderni series—focuses on Paul's thoughts, documents, and writings on the Second Vatican Council from December 1965 to June 1978, in the aftermath of its conclusion.

The editor of the present volume provides a useful Introduction (pp. v–xxii) to the 120 speeches, pronouncements, and other documents Paul issued on the Council following its closure. Among other things,Vergottini's introduction notes the continuity of these postconciliar references with those made by Montini/Paul VI before and during the Council, and published earlier by the institute. It also places the documents and discourses which follow in perspective, clearly revealing Pope Paul's postconciliar concerns about the implementation of its program and policies. In these pages the editor indicates that although Pope Paul appreciated the importance and far-reaching influence of the Council on his papacy, the Church, and the faithful, he was aware of the dissension it created and the problems confronting the implementation of its decisions. These concerns are amplified and supported by the 154 shorter references made by Paul VI to the Council from December 1965 to November 1977, included in the appendix of the volume (pp. 403–54).

Consistent in his support of the Council and its conclusions, Paul VI was also constant in his concerns about its reception. A week after the Council's closure, this Pope revealed his satisfaction with its work, while expressing his fears that its efforts might be subverted. Despite its historic importance and decisive impact upon the Church, he observed early in the proceedings that there were those who judged it an ephemeral event and sought to return to [End Page 317] the preconciliar attitudes and practices. He deemed this attitude illogical, unworthy, and dangerous. On the other hand, he disagreed with those who called for a "permanent council," desirous of continuously discussing and debating the lasting truths, doctrines, and fixed laws of the Church, which he found equally destructive (pp. 9–10).Paul's support of the work of the Council in providing Catholicism's aggiornamento or updating (pp. 15–16) pleased liberals and progressives in the Church. At the same time the Pope noted that this renewal did not challenge or change Catholic doctrine but amplified and clarified its message (p. 28), reassuring the traditionalists and conservatives.

In October 1966, alluding to the hopes and promises raised by the Council, Paul asked whether the promises of the Council had been fulfilled. His cautious response was a qualified yes, but at the same time he recognized that much more still had to be done (p. 89) for its full implementation. In the dozen remaining years of his pontificate, Paul strove to achieve this objective. Near the end of his life and pontificate in June 1978, Paul indicated as much, acknowledging that his papacy had been dedicated to the fulfillment and implementation of the Council (pp. 399–400), a contention supported by the documents in this collection. Unquestionably the publication of this and other volumes by the Istituto Paolo VI has contributed to the positive assessment of Paul...


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