Vatican II and Catholic Higher Education: Guest in Its Own House?
Paper presented at the “Vatican II and Catholic Higher Education: Leading Forward” conference held at Sacred Heart University October 13-15, 2022.
Almost exactly sixty years ago to the day, pope John XXIII opened Vatican II, the greatest religious event in the 20th century and an epoch-changing council like only Trent before, with a speech, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, which single-handedly redirected the agenda of the council and arguably also the course of Church history. Even though Vatican II deserves to be celebrated, anniversaries often have the unstated purpose to administer symbolic sedation. So, this conference is not a celebratory moment, rather an opportunity to reflect on the state of the reception of the council especially in Catholic colleges and universities. In these remarks, I will try to offer two kinds of reflections, historical andtheological, from the particular point of observation of Catholic higher education in North America, as a contribution to the history and theology of the reception of Vatican II in the Western hemisphere and in the global Catholic Church. I will try to provide, in other words, not just an historical analysis, but also a theological analysis with some constructive proposals about Vatican II and Catholic higher education. The first section will be on Vatican II and Catholic universities from Vatican II to today; a second section on the particular situation of today; a final part will suggest some initial proposals for a new phase for Vatican II in Catholic higher education.