Review: The Rising Laity: Ecclesial Movements Since Vatican II

The Rising Laity: Ecclesial Movements Since Vatican IIThe Rising Laity: Ecclesial Movements Since Vatican II by Massimo Faggioli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Historian and theologian, Massimo Faggioli, brings his intellectual weight to the question of the rise of the so-called ‘new ecclesial movements’ in the life of the Church, particularly from the perspective of his native Italy. Tracing their development from before the Second Vatican Council, Faggioli concludes his study with an examination of the place of these movements in the contemporary pontificate of Francis.

Challenging the long-prevailing view, often held by the movements themselves, that they are the ‘fruit’ of Vatican II, Faggioli highlights the way in which the post-Vatican II pontificates, particularly those of John Paul II and Benedict XVI have used support for the movements to subtly shift the understanding of what truly happened at the Council. This reclaiming of the ‘spirit’ of the Council, which Faggioli suggests was contrary to the ecclesiological developments of the Council, placed the movements in a privileged place within the Church of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Faggioli contends that the contemporary pontificate of Francis, with its refocusing of ecclesiological understanding on the primacy of the traditional parish as the place of mission, has challenged the movements’ existence as being the Church rather than being part of the Church.

Well written, well referenced, and well argued, this book is a must read for those who seek to understand the developments in contemporary ecclesiology and to do so from a historically sustainable position.

From the back cover:
The rise of the laity in the Catholic Church is at the same time one of the successes of Vatican II, one thing that all Catholics take for granted, and one item still on the agenda of Church reformers today. The “new Catholic movements” are the most relevant embodiment of this new phenomenon in a Church become global, but also one of the least researched fields by Catholic scholars. The case of the new Catholic movements is a key element in the effort to understand the Catholic Church in transition, like the Church of Pope Francis.

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