Review: An Unfinished Council: Vatican II, Pope Francis, and the Renewal of Catholicism

An Unfinished Council: Vatican II, Pope Francis, and the Renewal of CatholicismAn Unfinished Council: Vatican II, Pope Francis, and the Renewal of Catholicism by Richard R. Gaillardetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Over fifty years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, large amounts of the church reform called for by council participants remains incomplete and, in some cases, the church could appear to have gone backwards. But all is not lost; it is still possible for the church, the missionary pilgrim People of God, to recover something of the intent of the council and emerge renewed and reformed to continue the fundamental mission that is the reason for the church’s existence.

In this accessible and engaging volume, Richard Gaillardetz seeks to examine the ways in which the Second Vatican Council came to be in the life of the church, its context and content, and to probe some of the reasons why much of the exciting potentiality of the council’s work remains “unfinished”. The challenge, Gaillardetz argues, still exists for the church to embrace the fullness of the council and to implement it for the sake of the mission rather than seeking to disengage from the modern world.

Gaillardetz in one sense provides a resetting of the ecclesiological context in which the work of the council needs to be unfolded, the reality of a secular world with all its challenges and opportunities. Deeply saddened by the polarisation within the church – a symptom of the polarisation in the wider society – Gaillardetz argues for the embracing of the virtue of humility by the church as church and a development of a noncompetitive framework in which theology can be undertaken as the life of the church progresses.

This work contains a mine of absolute theological gems which give the reader pause for thought and wondering. I would highly recommend this work to any one within the church who wishes to see both the work of the Second Vatican Council brought to fruition and who understands that what was is no longer.

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