Lesson 6: The Aftermath of the Council, II


Subjects

The development of ecumenism. The changing religious scene. Heightened awareness of the Third World. Inculturation. Radical cultural and social change. How does the church respond?

The "coming of age" of American Catholics. The symbolic importance of the Kennedy presidency.

New public issues -- abortion, homosexuality, government sponsorship of contraception, etc.

The Church's social teachings in the context of the collapse of Marxism and the resurgence of "free market capitalism."

The meaning of religious liberty in a pluralistic society.

Suggested Readings

  • John XXIII -- Mater et Magistra, Pacem in Terris.
  • Paul VI -- Populorum Progressio.
  • John Paul II -- Sources of Renewal, Redemptor Hominis, Dives in Misericordia, Laborem Exercens, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, Centesimus Annus, Familiaris Consortio.
  • Hitchcock, Catholicism and Modernity.
  • McInerny, What Went Wrong.
  • Ratzinger, Ratzinger Report.
  • Stacpoole, Vatican II Revisited.

Suggestions for Review

1) How did the general culture change shortly after the Council, and how did that affect authentic understanding of the Council's teachings?

2) Discuss specific controversial issues from this point of view, e.g. abortion, homosexuality, divorce, contraception.

3) Discuss how the fact of religious pluralism in society has led to the conclusion that there are no certain truths. What is the teaching of the Council on that subject?

4) How has the religious landscape changed since the Council, in terms of such things as the resurgence and spread of Islam, the resurgence of evangelical Protestantism in the United States, the decline of the "mainline" churches, etc. Discuss this in the light of the Council's teachings concerning ecumenism.

5) It has been said that the most important line of division within Christianity now runs through the various churches. To what extent is that true? Is it true with respect to the Catholic Church? Was this one of the consequences of the Council?

6) Discuss the role of the media in shaping the public's understanding of the Council, both during and after its meetings. Trace the way in which the Council was reported in, for example, Time magazine, the New York Times, or other major publications. Was this reporting accurate? What overall impression of the Council did it give?

7) Study the reports of "Xavier Rynne" and Robert Blair Kaiser as examples of journalism designed to go beyond information in order to affect the course of the Council itself and its popular understanding. What were these reporters' agenda, and how did they attempt to achieve them?

8) Discuss the political career of the Kennedy family. Can they be seen as personifying Catholic social thought? What was their overall symbolic importance for American Catholicism?

9) What guidance did the Council give as to social and economic justice in the world?

10) Discuss the social encyclicals of John XXIII, Paul VII and John Paul II in this context.

11) Is there a distinctively Catholic vision of the good society, as found in today's society, as found in the conciliar documents and the papal encyclicals?

12) Study the movement known as Liberation Theology, using the work of Gustavo Gutierrez, Jon Sobrino, Ernesto Cardenal, and others. To what extent was the movement compatible with authentic Catholic social teaching?

13) What is the view of the "free market" according to Catholic social thought?

14) To what extent did the Council address the fact that the Church is now found in all cultures of the world and is no longer solely Western?

15) Discuss the concept of "inculturation" in Third World cultures from the standpoint of conciliar teaching.

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