Award-winning author Rev. John O'Malley, S.J. to offer a gripping account of the Second Vatican Council at Fairfield University Center for Catholic Studies event


 

Image: John O'MalleyGeorgetown University Professor Rev. John W. O'Malley's widely acclaimed books and articles have illuminated readers' understanding of the history of the Jesuits, Vatican II, Saint Ignatius Loyola, popes, and early modern Catholicism.

Anthony Grafton, professor of history at Princeton University, calls Fr. O'Malley, a Jesuit priest, "the dean of American historians of Christianity," while Rev. David Tracy, professor emeritus of Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago, has classified him as a "great scholar."

On Wednesday, November 4 at 8 p.m., Fr. O'Malley will be at Fairfield University to discuss his most recent book, "What Happened at Vatican II" (Harvard University Press, 2008). The University's Center for Catholic Studies is sponsoring the event, free and open to the public, which will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

In describing the book, critics employed such words as "illuminating" (The Wall Street Journal), "gripping" (The Tablet) and "superior" (Washington Post Book World). Fr. O'Malley, an expert on the religious culture of early modern Europe, will explore the intricacies of Vatican II - the historic ecumenical council of the Catholic Church which met in four sessions between 1962 and 1965. When he set out to write the book, he decided what was vital and missing from library shelves was a work that laid out all the ground rules of the council. "You will never understand the council unless you understand what led up to it," he said.

"How the bishops took charge of the agenda and radically reshaped the outcome is a story of bold confrontations, clashing personalities and behind-the-scenes maneuvers, all recounted in colorful detail by Father O'Malley," wrote Peter S. Steinfels in a New York Times review of the book. "A majority of bishops seemed primed for change, yet the path to final agreement was strewn with obstacles, whether from the stalwarts of the status quo or papal interventions. This is a tale with plenty of cliffhangers."

Fr. O'Malley is also the author of "The First Jesuits" (Harvard UP, 1993), awarded both the Jacques Barzun Prize and the Philip Schaff Prize. It has been translated into nine languages. He also wrote "Four Cultures of the West" (Harvard UP, 2005), which received honorable mention for a Catholic Press Association Book Award.

Fr. O'Malley is known for his lively lectures and dynamic classes. He has lectured throughout Europe and North America, and has taught at Oxford and Harvard. Before Georgetown, he was a Distinguished Professor of Church History at Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

Fr. O'Malley, who is a past president of the American Catholic Historical Association and of the Renaissance Society of America, has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among many other organizations. He received a doctorate in history from Harvard.

Among his monographs are "Praise and Blame in Renaissance Rome," which received the Marrow Prize from the American Historical Association; and "Trent and All That," the recipient of the Roland Bainton Prize from the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. Fr. O'Malley's soon to be published book is entitled "A History of the Popes" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2009).

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 23, 2009