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Thursday 28 May 2015


This recent book considers how the documents of Vatican II have been distorted through exaggeration, and how Newman's own anticipation of their teachings provides a corrective hermeneutic.

Fr. Ker analyses the post-conciliar Church and the need for the New Evangelization in light of Newman's work. 

He looks at the so-called charismatic dimension of the Church, an important rediscovery that has also been largely ignored or misunderstood in the years after the Council.

Often described as 'the Father of the Second Vatican Council' Newman anticipated most of the Council's major documents, as well as describing the seven notes or criteria for the development of doctrine in keeping with the original deposit of Faith.

Ker offers illuminating commentary both on the teachings of the Council and the way these have been implemented and interpreted in the post-conciliar period. He does so applying Newman's seven notes to both the documents and to Newman's own personal development and entry into full communion with the Catholic Church.

This book is the first sustained attempt to consider what Newman's reaction to Vatican II would have been. As a theologian who on his own admission fought throughout his life against theological liberalism, Newman is best described, Fr. Ker maintains, as a conservative radical.
At the time of the First Vatican Council, Newman adumbrated in his private letters a theology of Councils, which casts much light on Vatican II and its aftermath.

A noted Newman scholar, Ian Ker argues that Newman would have welcomed the reforms of the Council, but would have seen them in the light of his theory of doctrinal development, insisting that they must be understood not so much changes as developments in continuity rather than in discontinuity with the Church's tradition and past teachings.

Fr. Ker holds that Newman would have endorsed the so-called 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' with regard to Vatican II; a hermeneutic first formulated by Pope Benedict XVI and now endorsed by his successor, Pope Francis I. He further insists that Newman rejects both 'progressive' and ultra-conservative interpretations of the Councils while noting that Newman increasingly saw the essential and balancing role of the Petrine ministry in the enunciation of developed doctrine. 

Newman believed that what Councils fail to speak of is of great importance, and so in a final chapter Fr. Ker considers evangelization — a topic notably absent from the documents of Vatican II. This critical element is looked at in the face of secularization.  The development of the New Evangelization is looked at in light of Newman's overall contribution to theology and ecclesiology.

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