Keeping the World Awake to God: The Challenge of Vatican II

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Keeping the World Awake to God: The Challenge of Vatican II

January 12, 2012 - January 14, 2012

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Pope John XXIII’s convocation of the Second Vatican Council, in his apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis (December 25, 1961), this conference wishes to ponder the novelty of Vatican II read through the lens of what Pope Benedict XVI has affirmed as a “hermeneutic of continuity.”

The main purpose of the conference is thus to provide an authoritative grille de lecture for approaching the Council as a whole in its significance for the Tradition and in relation to the current “signs of the times.” The letter of the conciliar documents, taken as a whole, contains a hermeneutical center radiating outwards from the doctrine contained in Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium and illuminating the Council’s teaching on mission, inter-religious dialogue, modernity, religious freedom, and the like.

Rightly understood, Vatican II sought to recover a sometimes unnoticed constitutive principle of the Tradition: the catholicity of God’s self-revelation in Christ. Christ is “catholic,” because he reveals God in revealing man (and creation and the order of being tout court) and vice versa (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22; and Dives in Misericordia,1, reading the Council’s christological integration of theocentrism and anthropocentrism). The Council is novel, then, as a rereading of the Tradition in light of its catholic form, which is not merely “formal,” but a unity of form and content: Christ as the Incarnate Word of the Trinitarian God (Dei Verbum, 2).

Benedict XVI recently wrote that “John XXIII made a great, unrepeatable gesture in entrusting to a general council the task of understanding the word of faith today in a new way. Above all, the Council took up and carried out its great mission of defining in a new way the Church’s purpose as well as her relation to the modern era, and also the relation of faith to this time with its values. . . . I think that our major task now . . . is first of all to bring to light God’s priority again. The important thing today is to see that God exists, that God matters to us, and that he answers us. And, conversely, that if he is omitted, everything else might be as clever as can be–yet man then loses his dignity and his authentic humanity and, thus, the essential thing breaks down. That is why . . . as a new emphasis we have to give priority to the question about God” (Benedict XVI, Light of the World, 65).

The conference, then, will focus on the theme of catholicity, with its implicit “hermeneutics of continuity,” specifically in terms of the priority of God affirmed by Benedict XVI: that God exists, that he matters, and that man’s dignity and indeed very intelligibility is lost when the patterns of cultural life disregard or abstract from the divine reality. The forgetfulness of God and the forgetfulness of being—of the meaning and worth of creation—are indissolubly linked and can only be overcome together.

This conference is co-sponsored by Communio: International Catholic Review.


Thursday, Jan. 12
   7:00 p.m. Carl Anderson, Opening Remarks
   7:15-8:30 Francis Cardinal George: The Significance of Vatican II
   8:30 Reception
Friday, Jan. 13
  9:00-10:30 a.m. The Second Vatican Council and the Catholic Contribution to Metaphysics
Speakers: D.C. Schindler and Adrian Walker
Moderator: Michael Gorman
  11:00-12:30 The Catholicity of the Council
Speakers: Rev. Roch Kereszty, O.Cist. and Rev. Antonio López, F.S.C.B.
Moderator: Chad Pecknold
  12:30-2:00 Lunch
  2:00-3:30 Holiness, World, and the Meaning of Work
Speakers: Giorgio Buccellati and William Portier
Moderator: Rodney Howsare
  4:00-5:30 John Paul II’s Reading of Vatican II
Speaker: Rev. Jaroslaw Kupczak, O.P.
Moderator: David L. Schindler
Saturday, Jan. 14
  9:00-10:30 a.m. Religious Freedom and American Culture
Speakers: David L. Schindler and Gerard Bradley
Moderator: John Garvey
  11:00-12:30 Family and the Identity of the Person
Speakers: David Crawford and Nicholas Healy
Moderator: Joseph Atkinson
  12:30-2:00 Lunch
  2:00-3:30 Vatican II, the Body, and Christian Universalism
Speakers: Rev. José Granados, dcjm and Margaret McCarthy
Moderator: Rev. Paolo Prosperi, F.S.C.B.
  4:00-5:30 God, the Church, and Scientific Intelligibility
Speakers: Larry Chapp and Michael Hanby
Moderator: Andrew Sodergren


January 12, 2012
January 14, 2012
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