Vatican II was a seminal council, both an end and a beginning. It left behind intuitive perceptions in need of precise articulation and pointed to theological values in need of structural support. Bearing in mind that Vatican II was the conclusion of one era and the opening of another, Ladislas Orsy insists that the task of the church is to continue—with both creative insights and critical debates.
- Creative insights, though never the final answer, are the indispensable stages of development that emerge as we undertake the holy exercise of trying to imagine the best possible state of the church.
- Creative insights demand that we think anew our perceptions of some challenging aspects of reform: the people of God, unity of Christians, communion, development, freedom, role of the laity.
- Creative insights emerge within the crucible of the debating community—the sensus fidei at work to discern the true from the false with regard to such challenging things as infallibility and indefectibility of the church, synodality, collegiality, ecumenism.
Receiving the Council is a gift from a highly renowned and deeply respected canon lawyer and theologian who was an eye witness to Vatican II. It is filled with well-articulated questions and intelligent insights as well as prudent proposals for good structures in the "house of God" that is the church.
Ladislas Orsy, SJ, is a professor of law at Georgetown University, where he teaches Roman Law, History of Philosophy of Law, and Canon Law. During the council he was professor of canon law at the Gregorian University in Rome, then taught theology at Fordham University and canon law at The Catholic University of America. He is the author of Theology and Canon Law as well as eight other books and more than 200 articles. The main intent of his writings is to keep the spirit of the council alive.
In adopting a positive role of the Holy Spirit working to influence organic developments within the Church, Orsy articulates an ecclesiology that is at once theologically sophisticated an pneumatologically grounded, optimistic without being naïve, and unifying without turning a blind eye to the work ahead, particularly in the field of ecumenism.
There is a great deal in this short book to ponder. I have said nothing, for example, about his fascinating remarks on the concept of `laity'. It is not always easy going, but it ought to be read. Among many liberal Catholics, canon law, and by extension canon law lawyers, do not have a good reputation. This is a book which will change their minds.
Orsy is one of the foremost authorities on canon law. He combines a great mind with a great heart and great faith to humanize a topic that by all rights should bore us to tears. This is an amazing book, even if you have no familiarity with canon law. You'll never look at Vatican II the same way again.
Ken Trainor, U.S. Catholic blog, The Examined Life
An ideal way for the upcoming generation of ecclesiologists and canonists to show its appreciation for this scholar would be to imitate his courage and dedication.
This book may not present what is normally expected from canon lawyers. But it makes clear that the work and vocation of canon lawyers are not restricted to making scholarly commentaries on church law, but also includes raising a prophetic voice in relation to the future of the church.
Bijdragen: International Journal in Philosophy and Theology
[Orsy's] insight and wisdom are as strong as ever . . .[Receiving the Council] is a fitting tribute to the man and his work . . .
. . . the outstanding value of Orsy's book is in the rich theological and human landscape within the Orsy writes.
Orsy's treatment is throughout sober, precise, responsible, and hopeful, but always sharp. . . . This book is a shining example of the best practice.
National Catholic Reporter