As the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council approaches, the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies at Mercyhurst College has invited three scholars to assess the impact of Vatican II on today’s church. The panel, titled “Fifty Years Later: Vatican II & Beyond,” will be held Monday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the college’s Walker Recital Hall, located in the Hirt Academic Center. The program is co-sponsored by Mercyhurst’s Office of Mission Integration. It is free and open to the public.
In 1959, Pope John Paul XXIII announced plans to convene a council of the entire church, a move he characterized as opening the church’s windows to let in a breath of fresh air. The word he used to describe it was “aggiornamento,” an Italian term roughly translated as “updating.”
The council met annually from 1962 to 1965, continuing after Pope John Paul’s death and the election of Paul VI, and issued major documents on issues ranging from the celebration of the liturgy to relationships with other Christian religions.
Though decades have passed since the Council ended, debate continues about what the Council did and what its actions meant for the church.
The panelists will explore the topic from several different angles. The Rev. Scott Detisch, Ph.D., will discuss “The Virtue of Communion – The Unclaimed Legacy of Vatican II.” The council’s Constitution on the Church (Lumen gentium) described the Church as a sacrament of communion with God and the unity of all humankind, he says, yet current divisiveness suggests the church has failed to embrace this teaching.
Now approaching the 25th anniversary of his ordination, Fr. Detisch serves as pastor of Holy Cross Church in Fairview and has been a long-time professor of systematic theology at Gannon University and Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y. He is currently adjunct professor of systematic and sacramental theology at St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe, Ohio.
Paula M. Kane, Ph.D., who holds the Marous Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, will speak on “Chutes and Ladders: A Game for Catholic Women Since Vatican II.” She teaches both Religious Studies and History, including courses on American religious history; popular religion; Catholicism in the Americas; immigration and ethnicity; and religion and film. In 2001 she co-edited Gender Identities in American Catholicism, a documentary collection using unpublished archival materials to illustrate how religion shaped men and women into certain behaviors and roles in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Paul V. Murphy, Ph.D., director of the Institute of Catholic Studies at John Carroll University, will address “Mission and Identity in Catholic Higher Education.” Murphy also serves as professor of history and assistant to the president for university mission and identity at John Carroll.
He says the documents of Vatican II can shed light on challenges that face Catholic colleges and universities trying to maintain their Catholic identity while still participating in a pluralistic society, such as the apparent tension between academic freedom and Catholic identity and the increasingly lay character of institutions that were founded by religious communities.
A question-and-answer period will follow the three presentations.
For more information about the panel discussion, contact Dr. Mary Hembrow Snyder, director of the Center for Mercy and Catholic Studies, at 824-3105.