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Lecture discusses Vatican II reforms

Caroline Stickell | Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Members of the Saint Mary’s community heard author James Carroll speak at the 2012 Christian Culture Lecture on Tuesday night.
The Christian Culture Lecture series, held in conjunction with the Department of Humanistic Studies, presents a preeminent figure in the humanities. The speaker explores an aspect of the Christian dimension of Western culture.

Carroll, an award winning nonfiction and fiction writer, gave a lecture titled “The Reforming Dimension of Christianity in Western Culture and Beyond.”

Carroll has written many notable books; among them are his memoir, “An American Requiem” and his novels, “The City Below” and “Secret Father,” both of which were named Notable Books of the Year by The New York Times. In the most current version of “Vatican II: The Essential Texts,” published earlier this month, Carroll and Pope Benedict XVI wrote introductions to the text.

In the lecture, Carroll addresses the need for reform that the Second Vatican Council addressed, as well as the role of Vatican II 50 years later.

“We must reconcile the challenge of bringing one’s traditional faith with all its treasures into the age of reason,” Carroll said.

Carroll explored the reformations brought out of Vatican II and the place the council holds in today’s world, not only for Christians but for all people.

“Believers of all stripes have a moral obligation to examine that ways that religion abets violence and to change these ways,” Carroll said. “The obligation to do this is universal.”

Carroll explored the way secular culture can trivialize belief. He said the reforms in Vatican II were needed “to the core of the Church.”

Carroll said Vatican II represented a landmark shift in the Church’s attitudes.

“The Church’s worldview changed and static scholasticism developed into active participation and exploration of faith,” Carroll said. “The doctrine was extensively developed and the Church’s perspective of truth changed.”

The 50th anniversary of Vatican II, Carroll said, still marks a beginning and not an end.

“The changes Vatican II brought to our Church go deep into the Christian imagination. When there is resistance to Vatican II, this is good news because people understand how deep the changes to our faith go,” he said.

Carroll closed with a call for Christians to follow the authentic and loving Jesus.

“The first followers of Jesus did not follow doctrine, but discipleship. [The disciples] imitated Jesus more than worshipped him,” he said.
“The key to the true meaning of Christianity and the reform of Christianity is through the imitation of Jesus. The capacity for transcendence lies in every human person.”