Church historian to address impact of and divisions over Vatican II

Written by Ann Rodgers on .

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 R. Scott Appleby, a well known historian of American religion, will speak Wednesday September 19, 2012 on the legacy of Vatican II and the different lenses through which it is viewed in the Catholic Church today.

Dr. Appleby is a professor of history and director of the Kroc Center for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. His talk at 7 p.m. in the Kearns Spirituality Center, 9000 Babcock Blvd., McCandless, is sponsored by the Association of Pittsburgh Priests. The APP is a generally liberal, independent advocacy group that includes a handful of ordained clergy from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, as well as  laity and sisters.

Vatican II, which brought all the bishops of the Catholic Church together for a series of meetings in 1962-1965, reviewed and reinterpreted a great deal of church teaching . This fall marks its 50th anniversary.

Today in the United States, Canada and much of Western Europe the church is divided between varying visions of what Vatican II was expected to accomplish. On one end of the spectrum, liberal Catholics saw it as a turn away from autocratic structure that accorded lay Catholics greater rights and a voice in a church that they believed would be open to democratic change. On the other end of the spectrum, more traditional Catholics saw it primarily as an effort to explain old beliefs in new ways, but that changed nothing fundamental. Plenty of Catholics fall somewhere in between those two points of view -- and some schismatics on the far right regard the entire council and the popes that led and followed it as fradulent.

One battleground for these views has been the new translation of the Mass, whose literal rendering of sometimes awkward Latin wording is regarded by liberals as reneging on a promise to make the Mass readily understandable in each culture and by conservatives as a return to the roots of Catholic spirituality.

Dr. Appleby’s talk is entitled “The Contested Legacy of Vatican II.” He will review the turmoil in the church immediately after Vatican II and how that continues to play out today. The requested donation for the talk is $15. For more information, call Fr. John Oesterle at 412-232-7512 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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