2014-02-21 10:24:38

Vatican II effect in the US: an historical perspective

(Vatican Radio ) How did the Catholic Church in the United States react to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. How did it receive the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. And again how were the Popes of this Council, Blessed John XXIII and Pope Paul VI perceived by the American Catholic faithful?

That's what historian and well known author, Jesuit Professor Gerald Fogarty tells us in an interview with Veronica Scarisbrick. She begins by asking Father Fogarty whether the Catholic Church in the United States was considered progressive at the time of the Council. It appears the situation was not so clear cut : "..It was viewed as progressive but behind the scenes there was resistance: it began with the liturgy and carried through on social teaching. Resistance that had already begun in 1961 with John XXIII's social encyclical 'Mater et Magistra' when a group of conservative Catholics said: Mater yes, Magistra no"... What's interesting though is, there's been a dissertation recently done on this in Germany, how the American Church influenced the first ever social encyclical seventy years. That’s to say Pope Leo XIII's 'Rerum Novarum' dated 1891. Because American Catholics mainly belonged to the working class so therefore they formed labour unions supported, so therefore the American Church. supported labour unions, the right to strike and things like that. However by 1961 American Catholics were mainly middle class so they couldn't see the point of this and it's for worse since then as now you have many, many Catholics who argue the Church shouldn't be involved in the social world at all. But initially probably the American Church was looked at as being progressive but behind it there was still not much development of theology. There was development and when I say development I mean people becoming outstanding theologians and a real concern for theology. And in my opinion that's stopped now, there's no one field that really stands out as would have been true twenty five years ago. "
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