Vatican II - Voice of The Church
Vatican II - Voice of The Church

Vatican II: Of Happy Memory - and Hope?

By Nicholas Lash

My generation - those who have personal experience, as adults, of preconciliar Catholicism - have a unique responsibility. We who were brought up in the Church of Pope Pius XII know that it was a world neither of tranquil certainties and quiet obedience disrupted by dissent, nor a dark place of clerical oppression from which the Council set us free. But like others of this generation, for most of my adult life the constitutions and decrees of the Council, and the spirit which animated them, have been the benchmark by which to judge the reform of Catholic pastoral practice. And those of us who had personal experience of the context in which the Council came to birth, and of its dynamics as a historical event, still have a unique contribution to make to the assessment and evaluation of its outcome - not least because, in a few years' time, the Council will be nobody's living memory.

To what extent are we succeeding in implementing the programme of reform initiated by the Council? To answer that question, it is not primarily the period between 1962 and 1965 we should look at, but that from 1965 to the present day. Our concern, in other words, is with what biblical scholars would call the Wirkungsgeschichte of the Council - the history of its effects. How far have we realised, or failed to realise, the programme of reform which it initiated?

The Achievements

The identity of the vast majority of Catholic Christians is formed and finds expression principally at Mass on Sunday. It is here, in the way we celebrate the Eucharist together, and relate what we are doing there to what we do and undergo elsewhere, that the doctrine of the Church expounded in the Council's Constitution Lumen gentium, the doctrine of God's word in Dei verbum and the account of Christianity's relationship to secular society in Gaudium et spes do or do not take shape, find flesh. In this sense, the state of the liturgy is the first and fundamental test of the extent to which the programme, not merely of the decree Sacrosanctum concilium but of all the Council's constitutions and decrees, is being achieved.

In 1968, the Catholic Truth Society in London invited me to produce a replacement for its standard catechetical pamphlet on the celebration of the Eucharist, What Is He Doing at the Altar? I entitled the new text, What Are We Doing at Mass? The pastoral, missionary and political implications of that shift in the identity of Christian agency are incalculable. It is the structured community that is the Church - God's gathered people - which celebrates the Eucharist, not merely the person presiding over the celebration. There are many weaknesses in liturgy today: the banality of so much that we sing, the uneven quality of translations, the poverty of so much preaching and our failure to make the liturgy what Paul VI called a 'school of prayer', among others. But to dwell on these would risk distracting our attention from what is the Council's single most profound and significant achievement.

Notwithstanding the continued nervous isolation of Russian Orthodoxy, the transformation in our relations with other Christian traditions has been hardly less comprehensive. Although full communion and common ministries with the Churches of the Reformation remain a distant dream, the depth of mutual understanding and respect, and the extent of pastoral collaboration that we have already achieved, would have seemed unthinkable a few years before the Council opened. (As recently as 1950 one of the English Catholic bishops referred, in the pages of The Times, to the Archbishop of Canterbury as 'a doubtfully baptised layman'.)

The third great achievement of the Council is a shift towards the preferential option for the poor. Some years ago, I was present at a lecture that the father of liberation theology Gustavo Gutiérrez gave to an enormous crowd of students at Boston College. The Peruvian spoke of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero on 24 March 1980, and of his funeral a week later. 'I was at that funeral', he said, 'during which 40 other people were killed. Can you name any of them?' The students, of course, could not. 'Those', said Gustavo, 'are the poor.'

One reason why it is difficult to generalise about the extent to which the Church is becoming converted to the preferential option is that those who work with and for the poor are often as invisible as the poor themselves. But even if we cannot easily measure it, without doubt the Council's impulse in this direction has borne impressive fruit.

The phrase 'preferential option for the poor' was coined at the 1968 conference at Medellín in Colombia, where the bishops of Latin America gathered to apply conciliar teaching to that continent. Reflecting on Medellín some 20 years later, Archbishop Michael McGrath of Panama said that the Latin-American Church was committed 'not only' to 'a preferential option for the poor in economic and political terms', but that 'this option' was to be applied 'first of all to the evangelisation of the poor, so that with them and from their point of view we can carry out the evangelisation of the entire community'.

Notwithstanding the reverses in Latin America during the present pontificate, and the Vatican's attempts to curb what it regards as the 'political' errors of liberation theology, I suspect that future historians will judge John Paul II to have been committed to the notion of evangelisation 'with and from [the] point of view of' the poor.

The Council put things in the right order in other ways, too. In 1985, one of the English bishops, shortly before leaving for Rome to take part in the Synod convened to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the end of the Council, asked me what I thought were important clues to the quality of our remembering of what the Council sought to do. I suggested that one such clue lay in the importance which people attached to the sequence of chapters in the Council's two dogmatic constitutions, Dei verbum and Lumen gentium.

In the case of Dei verbum, the Council treats first, in Chapter 1, of God's being and act, God's utterance, the Verbum Dei; and only then, in Chapter 2, does it go on to consider what we are to do about the Word that has been spoken to us, and about the responsibility of those who teach us to 'listen' to that Word, to 'guard' and to 'expound' it. (The Catechism, deplorably, begins, not with God, but with our 'search' for God.)

In the case of Lumen gentium, Chapter 1 insists on the irreducible diversity of biblical and patristic images of the mystery of God's gathering of humankind, the mystery of the Church. Chapter 2 nevertheless privileges one such image: that of God's 'people' on the move through history. Only in Chapter 3 does the Council consider the structures and offices that this pilgrim people need.

The Failures

In his 1966 Sarum Lectures, Bishop Christopher Butler gave a lengthy and careful analysis of Chapter 3 of Lumen gentium. It is in this chapter that the Council had struggled to incorporate the narrowly juridical teaching of Vatican I on papal primacy into its own larger view of episcopacy. 'What matters in the end', said Bishop Butler, 'is the successful achievement of the Council's intentions.(1)

In the distance between the theory and practice of collegiality, those intentions have, thus far, been dramatically frustrated. I do not believe that anybody, as the Council ended, foresaw the possibility that, only 37 years after the promulgation of Lumen gentium, the Church would be far more rigorously and monolithically controlled by Pope and Curia than at any time in its history. The Church has paid a heavy price for John Paul II's lack of interest in administration. And with hindsight, it was naive of the bishops to suppose that the Roman Curia - many of whose most senior members had been key players in that handful of bishops who had resisted the reform programme, line by line - would suddenly and easily surrender power.

To have an idea of just how new is the twentieth-century centralisation of ecclesial power, we need only go back to the early nineteenth century. In 1829 there were 646 diocesan bishops in the Latin Church. Of these, 555 owed their appointment to the State, about 67 had been elected by diocesan chapters or their equivalent, while only 24 had been appointed by the Pope. Not until 1917 (in the new Code of Canon Law) was it claimed that inherent in the papal primacy was the right to appoint bishops throughout the Catholic Church. Power swiftly taken is not as swiftly abandoned.

Until the mid-nineteenth century, such centralisation was logistically impossible to achieve even if it had been desired. It took a very long time for messages to get from Rome to Paris or Vienna - to say nothing of Cape Town or Bombay. With the coming of the railways, the world became much smaller, a process which accelerated dramatically in the century that followed with the coming of air travel, television and the internet. Centralisation and micromanagement have grown along with technology, unimpeded by a countervailing principle.

'The most striking accomplishment of the Council', noted that shrewd commentator 'Xavier Rynne', writing in 1966, 'has unquestionably been the proclamation of episcopal collegiality, the principle that the bishops form a college and govern the Church together with the Pope who is their head.' Moreover, he went on, 'the new doctrine is bound to influence the exercise of [papal] authority in practice, particularly if Pope Paul's plans for the reform of the Roman Curia and the establishment of the Synod of Bishops are fully carried out'.(2) Which, of course, they were not. The Curia remains unaccountable to the episcopate, and the Synods, in their present form, have become little more than further instruments of papal power.

There are areas today in which the Church is dangerously polarised, and the Council is often blamed for this. Is such blame justified? That a body of human beings comprising, at least nominally, one-sixth of the human race, should display a vast diversity of temperament and attitude and opinion is both inevitable and desirable. A Church in which there were no serious disagreements would be dead. Disagreement about things that matter deeply to the disputants may create tensions but does not, of itself, do damage to the bonds of charity or threaten sacramental unity. Polarisation, in contrast - the dramatised simplification of disagreement to the point where there appear to be, for all practical purposes, two and only two approaches or opinions possible (and these two locked in mutual incomprehension and distaste) - threatens truth and charity alike.

On almost every issue considered at the Council, there was, it is true, a fairly clear division between majority and minority opinion. But for all the influence it wielded, in numerical terms the minority was very small indeed. Consider the figures: Lumen gentium was approved by 2151 votes to 5, Dei verbum by 2350 to 6, and Gaudium et spes by 2309 to 75. These are not the acts of a polarised episcopate, nor of a Church seriously divided.

Pope John XXIII had called the programme of reform for which the Council was convened aggiornamento, a bringing-up-to-date. Paul VI, in contrast, preferred to speak of rinnovamento, or renewal.(3) The scholars meanwhile used a French word, ressourcement, meaning the refreshing of Catholic thought, liberating it from the arid juridicism of late neoscholasticism, drawing once again upon the richness of its biblical and patristic sources. The journalists, for their part, unsurprisingly but unhelpfully preferring political terminology (which increasingly, in the English-speaking world, meant the language of American politics), spoke of the majority at the Council as progressive or liberal, and the minority as conservative.

The confusion resulting from all this is succinctly illustrated by the following remark from a recent biography of Cardinal Ratzinger: 'To put all this into political terms, aggiornamento was a liberal impulse, ressourcement more conservative.'(4) Yet ressourcement is not an alternative to aggiornamento, but the means of its achievement. As Yves Congar said in 1966: 'True reform implies an appeal from a less perfect to a more perfect tradition, a going back to the sources.'(5) In the second place, it was misleading to describe as conservative a group of people whose principal ambitions were to sustain the thought-patterns of nineteenth-century scholasticism and the neo-ultramontane institutional innovations of the twentieth century.

The Problem with Open Windows

On the larger issue, those who seek to hold the Council responsible for polarisation in the Church today underestimate the extent to which the attitudes of Catholics - bishops included - are shaped behind the gospel's back, as it were, by the seismic shifts that there have been, in recent decades, in social and economic structures, attitudes and expectations.

Does this mean that the Council came too late? If what was needed in the 1960s was aggiornamento, when did the Church begin to fall behind the times? Bernard Lonergan's answer was: in the late seventeenth century: 'When modern science began, when the Enlightenment began, then the theologians began to reassure one another about their certainties.'(6)

Confronted by a Western culture increasingly hostile, both institutionally and intellectually, Catholic Christianity tried to pull up the drawbridge, seeking security in disengagement from the world of which it formed a part. This stance could not last indefinitely. The pressures which began building up in the nineteenth century came to a head during the beginning of the twentieth. The Modernist crisis marked the painful and often tragic beginning of a rich and fruitful renaissance of Catholic life, thought and spirituality, which came near to fruition in the 1960s.(7)

But in many ways it came too late, sowing the seeds of its own dissolution. The condemnations of 'Modernism' dangerously delayed all programmes of renewal. For decades the Church remained in a state of siege, fully alerted to the danger of attacks as much from within as without. With the forces of renewal marginalised and suspect for half a century, the official expression of the reform movement, when it came in the form of the promulgation of conciliar documents, was greeted by many Catholics with bewilderment and incomprehension.

Pointing the way, albeit hesitantly, towards an eventual transformation of structures, the documents presupposed for their understanding a transformation of consciousness which was too often lacking. Moreover, fundamental shifts of culture did not wait upon the re-engagement of Catholicism with those secular worlds which it had for so long viewed with baleful suspicion. As a result, even when the conciliar message did begin to get through to the Catholic community as a whole, it seemed not to speak to the felt concerns and expectations of increasing numbers of people.

This account goes some way, I believe, to help explain the sadness, even the bitterness, of some of those (such as Louis Bouyer and Cardinal de Lubac) who had worked tirelessly to bring about the renewal which the Council sought, only to find themselves in a situation far more anarchic and confused than anybody had expected. Culturally, ethically and politically, we live in most bewildering times; but it is not Catholicism that is, as Cardinal Ratzinger complains, collapsing, but the citadel that we erected to protect us from the tempests of a changing world.

Did the Council come too late? No, it came just in time. But it came too late for renewal to be achieved without considerable confusion, misunderstanding and distress.

The Crisis of Authority

To conclude these reflections on the failure of the Council, it is necessary to say something on two topics which were kept off the conciliar agenda: birth control and priestly celibacy.

Pope Paul VI will surely go down in history as one of the truly great popes of modern times. It is all the more painfully paradoxical that, if there is one event which triggered the contemporary crisis of authority in the Church, it is his rejection of the official report (not, as it is sometimes erroneously described, the 'majority report') of the Commission which he had convened to consider the question of birth regulation and his promulgation, on 25 July 1968, of the Encyclical Humanae vitae.

As with birth control, so with priestly celibacy. Many of the bishops wished the Council to consider the matter, but Paul VI insisted on reserving it to himself and, in 1967, issued the Encyclical Sacerdotalis coelibatus.

Whether or not Paul VI was well advised, in the circumstances of the time, and in view of the pressures to which he was subjected, to reserve these two questions to himself is for the historians to decide. The really striking thing to notice, however, is the disturbing frequency with which questions of sexual behaviour are decided, in the Church, not on the basis of doctrinal or ethical considerations, of what human beings should or should not do, but on account of problems of authority.

The point of crisis was probably reached for many, said Professor John Marshall, a member of the Commission, around 23 April 1965. It was now that 'the four theologians of the minority group acknowledged they could not demonstrate the intrinsic evil of contraception on the basis of natural law and so rested their case on authority'.(8)

In recent decades, the failure to tackle questions of sexual behaviour on their own terms - and in terms which honestly confront the damage done to men and women by the sexual misbehaviour of the clergy - has led, in many parts of the Church, to the scandal of widespread clerical concubinage and, most recently, to damaging revelations of the extent to which ecclesiastical authorities have covered up and condoned the sexual abuse of minors.

If ever there were a time when the Church needed to treat questions of sex and gender honestly, it is surely now - not simply for its own sake, but for the sake of the society in which the gospel of God's friendship is to be proclaimed. In a culture increasingly corroded by destructively egocentric individualism, a culture which finds lifelong commitment not simply unsustainable but well-nigh unintelligible, the Catholic tradition of the primacy of relations, of the centrality and possibility and fruitfulness of the gift of lifelong friendship - both in the form of love given and exchanged in marriage and in the form of celibacy freely undertaken in witness to the kingdom - has so much to offer that we surely dare not squander it by preoccupation with the fear of change.

Unfinished Business

Questions concerning how the gospel of the crucified and risen one is effectively to be proclaimed, in solidarity with and from the standpoint of the poor, the weak and the disadvantaged, are vastly more important than questions of Church structure. Nevertheless, inappropriate structures frustrate appropriate evangelisation. There are, at present, few more urgent tasks facing the Church than that of realising the as yet unrealised programme of Vatican II by throwing into reverse the centralisation of power which accrued during the twentieth century, and restoring episcopal authority to the episcopate,

The need for collegiality is crucial to the vision of the Council. When we speak of the 'universal' Church, the 'Catholic' Church, we refer, in the first place, to that gathering, by God's redeeming grace, of all the just 'from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect'.(9) What we usually call 'the Church' subsists as a kind of sacrament or symbolic enactment of this eschatological gathering, this assembly, congegatio or ecclesia. More concretely, as Lumen gentium puts it: 'This Church of Christ is truly present in all legitimate local [gatherings] of the faithful ... united with their pastors.' Each celebration of the Eucharist, each parish or diocese, are not, therefore, merely fragments or small parts of some vast multinational corporation. They are the universal Church in its particular existence - in this time and at this place. Thus it is that, where episcopal office is concerned, Lumen gentium insists that every bishop is 'the vicar of Christ', and that bishops are not 'to be regarded as vicars of the Roman Pontiff', as branch managers of 'Church International PLC'(10).

But, of course, the universal Church in each particular place will be a community of limited experience and resources. It can only draw on so much holiness, scholarship and wisdom. It will necessarily be a fragile group of sinful men and women in continual need of strengthening and enrichment, of education and correction, from all those - of every age and race and culture - with whom it exists in communion. In other words, the strengthening of bonds of solidarity, of koinonia, at every level - local and regional, national and international - is indispensable for the health and liberty of each particular instance and expression of the Catholic Church.

It is worth bearing in mind that the initial impulse behind the Ultramontane movement in early modern Europe was to strengthen the bonds of union between German and French dioceses and the See of Peter in order to ensure the freedom of the Church from state control. To the extent that, in our own day, the bishops of the Church succeed in taking back their own episcopal authority (within, and not 'above', their Churches, I need hardly add) through the development, at every level, of appropriately collegial instruments, the indispensable vocation of the Holy See will become clearer: as 'sheet-anchor', 'rock' or 'court of last appeal'. This vocation of the See of Peter is (as Luke's Gospel says) to 'strengthen [his] brethren' (Luke 21.32). It is to facilitate and enable, not to control and dominate through power over all appointments and the issuing of endless streams of 'orders' and 'instructions'.

One of the most striking developments in Catholic life since the Council ended has been the flourishing of 'movements' such as Opus Dei, the Neo-Catechumenate, Communion and Liberation, and so on (11). According to one commentator, Cardinal Ratzinger has said that these movements 'cannot be reduced to the episcopal principle, [but] represent a new justification for the Petrine ministry' (12). In view of the enthusiasm with which Roman support for the movements, thus rationalised, is being prosecuted in the closing years of the present pontificate, it is impossible not to fear that they are being used as instruments subversive of that recovery of episcopal authority for the importance of which I have been pleading.

The ministry of women remains, quite evidently, seriously underdeveloped. If one sets aside the question of women's candidacy for the sacrament of order(13), it is sometimes unclear whether the underdevelopment in question is specifically of women' s ministry or, more generally, of the ministry of the laity. Suppose, for example, someone were to argue that there should be women nuncios or women in charge of Roman congregations. If such suggestions were resisted on the grounds that the nature of these offices is such as to require their exclusive occupancy by priests or bishops, then it would be clear that the opposition was to these offices being held by laypeople, rather than specifically by women.

For most of the Church's history, it has been maintained that women cannot hold high office in the Church because (to put it at its simplest) running things is what men do. It is instructive, in this regard, that when the Declaration Inter insigniores of October 1976 stated that 'the Church desires that Christian women should become fully aware of the greatness of their mission: today their role is of capital importance both for the renewal and humanisation of society and for the rediscovery by believers of the true face of the Church', the only vocations through which this mission might be exercised were specified as martyrdom, virginity and motherhood. Moreover, the evidence of the patristic and medieval authorities appealed to by recent pronouncements asserting the impossibility of ordaining women suggests that almost the only arguments adduced against their ordination in the past were variants on two themes: we cannot do it because Our Lord did not do it, and we cannot do it because running things is what men do.

Church history tells another story. Consider Fontevraud, in whose great abbey church lie Eleanor of Aquitaine, her husband Henry II of Anjou and England, and their son Richard Coeur de Lion. Fontevraud, for centuries the largest monastic complex in the world - containing priests, lay brothers, lay sisters, contemplative nuns, invalids and social outcasts - was, from its foundation in 1101 until its dissolution at the French Revolution, uninterruptedly governed by the abbess of the community of contemplative nuns.

The question of the ordination of women - as the Pontifical Biblical Commission advised Pope Paul VI when he sought their advice on the matter - cannot be decided on the basis of New Testament exegesis. The historical evidence is if anything even more fragile. The question has never previously been raised on the assumption (now agreed on all sides) of the social equality of men and women. It is a new question, and new questions need time, attentiveness, sensitivity and careful scholarship; they cannot be foreclosed by fiat.

In 1979, Karl Rahner argued that the fundamental theological significance of the Council lay in the fact that it marked 'the beginning of a tentative approach by the Church to the discovery and realisation of itself as world-Church'(14). He saw three great epochs in Church history, the third of which has only just begun. There was a short period when Christianity was still a form of Judaism; another period, lasting nearly two thousand years, when it was (with few exceptions) the Church of what became European culture and civilisation. The third period was now beginning, 'in which the Church's living space is from the very outset the whole world' (15).

Rahner's argument was not about geography, but about culture. At Vatican I, there were bishops from Asia and from Africa, but these were missionary bishops of European or American origin. Vatican II, in contrast, really was a first assembly of the world-episcopate.

In order for the Church truly to be a world-Church, on this account, it has to become a Church which - while never ceasing to keep alive the memory that it grew from Jewish roots and flourished, for many centuries, in European soil - will be genuinely at home in all the diverse cultures of the world.

Such genuinely pluralist inculturation of the gospel will, of course, profoundly influence not only liturgical styles and forms of theological argument but also patterns and structures of Church order and of ministry. There will, as Rahner sees it, be no future Christendoms: he saw the Church of the future as a Diaspora-Church, a little flock, pusillus grex. This situation, he insisted, must not be interpreted - either in practice or in theory - in sectarian terms, in attempted insulation from the contexts in which the gospel is to be proclaimed (16).

At least in its broad outline, Rahner's argument seems to me persuasive, and it raises two issues of immense importance for the future of the Church. In the first place, there is the question of the relations between Christians and (for example) Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. In Western culture, since the seventeenth century, it has been customary to see these peoples as specific variants of the genus called religion. There are many reasons for believing this interpretative framework to be misleading (17), but the question raised by Rahner's argument is this: do these other peoples now also find themselves required, on their own terms, to understand themselves as, and to live as, world-peoples? I simply raise the question, the answers to which would, I suspect, be very different in each case, with very different implications for the pattern of our quest, as Christians, for deeper mutual understanding and collaboration.

In the second place, it is clear that a Church becoming a world-Church, increasingly diverse in structure, in thought-forms, in liturgical expression, would need to sustain, with even more attentiveness and energy than has been the case thus far, the bonds of common faith, and hope, and charity. But, if the Church is truly to be a world-Church, a Church that is equally at home in every corner of the world, then the principal instrument for sustaining koinonia, for deepening the global bonds of faith, and hope, and charity, will be the collegiality of the worldwide episcopate (sub et cum Petro, by all means). Such communion of the world-Church can certainly not be sustained by structures of control from a single Roman centre, aided and abetted by movements of (for the most part) parochially Mediterranean origin and character.

In 1995, John Paul II, through the encyclical Ut unum sint, asked bishops to engage with him in dialogue about the reform of the papacy. One of those who responded was John Quinn, the former Archbishop of San Francisco. In the Conclusion to his study on The Reform of the Papacy, the archbishop said there were two great problems above others: centralisation and the need for reform of the Roman Curia (18).

My own view is that these two problems in fact boil down to one. There is not the slightest possibility that the Roman Curia will reform itself to the extent of surrendering its control and rendering itself accountable to the episcopate. Only the world-episcopate, with the pope, can effectively instigate and supervise the necessary reforms. It would be premature to convene a general council for this purpose. A renewal of regional councils, as a regular feature of Church life, would be a great step forward. But the history of synods in Rome since Vatican II and the sustained campaign to rein in the authority of episcopal conferences demonstrate that the curial stranglehold is at present so complete that there is no serious possibility, without curial reform, for effective worldwide recovery of the ancient tradition of regional councils.

What we need, and what (in my judgement) it is not unrealistic to hope for, is the election of a pope who, broadly sharing Archbishop Quinn's diagnosis of the problem, establishes a commission, which the pope would chair, whose members would be perhaps 40 or 50 diocesan bishops, drawn from every corner of the world, and which would be advised by officials of the Roman Curia, and by historians, theologians and canon lawyers from outside Rome (many of whom, of course, might be laypeople, women as well as men). The task of this commission would be to draw up proposals for the transfer of governance in the Church from pope and Curia to pope and bishops, through the establishment of a standing synod whose members would be diocesan bishops and whose work would be assisted by the offices of a curia so reformed as to function, not as an instrument of governance, but as a service of administration. The work of this commission, when completed, would then be submitted to the worldwide episcopate for comment and, presumably, revision, before receiving from the pope its final ratification. The centralised control from which we suffer, and which has contributed so greatly to the present crisis of authority, was built up in less than 100 years. It could be put into reverse in less than 10.


  1. Christopher Butler, The Theology of Vatican II (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1967), p. 113.
  2. Xavier Rynne, The Fourth Session (London: Faber Faber, 1966), p. 257. Xavier Rynne was later identified as F. X. Murphy.
  3. Rynne, Fourth Session, p. 258.
  4. John L. Allen, Cardinal Ratzinger (New York: Continuum, 2000), p. 57.
  5. See Informations Catholiques Internationales (1 January 1966), P. 55.
  6. Bernard Lonergan, 'Theology in its new context', in William Ryan and Bernard Tyrrell (eds), A Second Collection (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1974), pp. 55-67 (55).
  7. Nicholas Lash, 'Modernism, aggiornamento and the night battle', in Adrian Hastings (ed.), Bishops and Writers (Wheathampstead: Anthony Clarke, 1977), pp. 51-79 (52).
  8. From a 1968 article in The Times by John Horgan, 'The history of the debate', in Peter Harris et al., On Human Life (London: Burns & Oates, 1968), pp. 7-26.
  9. See Lumen gentium, art. 2, quoting from a homily by Gregory the Great.
  10. See the debate between Cardinals Kasper and Ratzinger especially Kasper's article in Stimmen der Zeit (December 2000), translated as 'On the Church', The Tablet (23 June 2001), pp. 927-30.
  11. See series of reports on the movements in The Tablet (March-April 1997 and January 2001).
  12. Gordon Urquhart, 'A dead man's tale', The Tablet (22 March 1997), p. 367.
  13. See Nicholas Lash, 'On not inventing doctrine', The Tablet (2 December 1995), p. 1544.
  14. Karl Rahner, 'Basic theological interpretation of the Second Vatican Council', Theological Investigations, vol. XX (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1981), pp. 77-89.
  15. Ibid., pp. 82-3.
  16. Rahner, 'Structural change in the Church of the future', Theological Investigations, vol. XX, pp. 115-32 (128-9).
  17. See Nicholas Lash, The Beginning and End of Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 3-25.
  18. John R. Quinn, The Reform of the Papacy (New York: Herder, 1999), p. 178. See also Lash, 'A papacy for the future', The Tablet (11 December 1999), pp. 1678-9.

This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author and publishers. It is a chapter in a new book: Theology for Pilgrims by Nicholas Lash from Darton, Longman and Todd published 21 April 2008; £14.95. Available from and most religious and online booksellers.