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Liturgical Press

A Council That Will Never End

Lumen Gentium and the Church Today

Paul Lakeland

A Council That Will Never End
A Council That Will Never End

eISBN: 9780814680919, E8091

Details: 192 pgs,
Publication Date: 10/01/2013
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Lumen Gentium, Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, changed how the church thinks about the laity, holiness, baptism, and even the nature and purpose of the church itself. In A Council That Will Never End, the highly regarded ecclesiologist Paul Lakeland marks the fiftieth anniversary of this document's promulgation by taking up three major themes of the constitution, analyzing the text, and identifying some of the questions with which it leaves us. These themes are

  • the role of the bishop in the church and the ways Lumen Gentium's teaching relates to various tensions in
    today's church
  • the laity and in particular the mixed blessing of describing them in the category of "secularity"
  • and the relationships between the church and the people of God and what they tell us about the ways in which all people are offered salvation.

Lakeland is convinced that Lumen Gentium leaves much unfinished business (as any historical document must), that attending to it will take us beyond much of the now sterile ecclesial divisions, and that the ecclesiology of humility it implies marks the way that theology must guide the church in the years ahead.

Paul Lakeland is the Aloysius P. Kelley, SJ, Professor of Catholic Studies and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University. He is active in the American Academy of Religion, the Catholic Theological Society of America, and the Workgroup for Constructive Theology. He is the author of Church: Living Communion (Liturgical Press); The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church; and Catholicism at the Crossroads: How the Laity Can Save the Church.

eISBN: 9780814680919, E8091

Details: 192 pgs,
Publication Date: 10/01/2013


"Paul Lakeland has produced another groundbreaking study which will inspire and energize so many throughout the church and academy alike. In this period of significant anniversaries concerning Vatican II, A Council That Will Never End is a self-consciously forward-looking book that draws on the inspirations of the past in order to serve the church of the future. The focus on Lumen Gentium is intended to bring alive a vision of what the church truly is, can be, and must be. It wrestles with the unfinished business of that document and of the council in general in a refreshingly honest and constructive fashion. This book should be required reading in all courses exploring ecclesiology, recent church history, and ecumenism."
Gerard Mannion, Amaturo Chair in Catholic Studies, Georgetown University

This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the challenges of being Catholic today. In this concise, engaging, and delightfully readable volume, Lakeland provides a commentary on Lumen Gentium that sheds light not only on the Second Vatican Council but also on the current situation and the contemporary issues facing the Catholic Church. Even while probing some of Catholicism's most neuralgic debates with his characteristically honest and insightful judgment, Lakeland's tone of patient hope and good humor inspires rather than polarizes. I know of no better answer to the question of whether the Second Vatican Council still matters than A Council That Will Never End.
Mary Doak, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, University of San Diego

This volume offers a perceptive reading of one of Vatican II's most important documents, Lumen Gentium, balancing an appreciation for the document's enduring contributions with an acknowledgment of its inevitable inconsistencies. Combining fresh theological perspectives with a dry wit and a perceptive reading of the state of the Catholic Church today, Lakeland uses Vatican II as a springboard for diagnosing what ails the church today. He concludes with a bracing call for a more humble church focused on its mission in the world.
Richard Gaillardetz, Joseph McCarthy Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology, Boston College

A Council That Will Never End is a vigorous analysis of Lumen Gentium as well as a candid and thought-provoking appraisal of church life in North America today. Some will find it too forward-looking, yet Lakeland's vision of a church less self-referential and more humble in its outreach to the world certainly resembles major emphases of Pope Francis's dream for tomorrow's church.
Don MacDonald, OFM, Worship