New STM Dean will discuss book on American Catholic Revolution
by Kathleen Sullivan
Published: Oct. 21, 2010
School of Theology and Ministry Dean Mark Massa, SJ, will discuss his
new book, The American Catholic Revolution How the Sixties Changed
the Church Forever and how what happened in the 1960s can be
translated for the predominate number of STM students born after
Vatican II at his inaugural dean's address on Nov. 3 at 4 p.m. in
the Heights Room of Corcoran Commons.
In American Catholic Revolution, Fr. Massa chronicles the changes in
the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council and American
Catholics' responses to those changes. The changes which included
modifications to the Mass such as the use of English instead of Latin
and a repositioning of the priest and the altar were "exciting but
unnerving," said Fr. Massa, who specializes in church history. "There
was a bit of trauma felt by those in the pews. They were led to
believe that the way they worshipped was eternal. And then it changed."
Fr. Massa explains that while Catholic core beliefs and faith are
timeless, the way Catholics worship and the structure of the Mass are
not. The conflicts that have arisen among Catholics since Vatican II,
he writes, can be traced to differences between those who want the
Church to be timeless and those ascribing to historical
consciousness, the awareness that everything in history changes.
The book highlights noteworthy people and issues since Vatican II,
such as the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, the anti-Vietnam war
protests of the "Catonsville Nine" and laicization of the Immaculate
Heart of Mary sisters of Los Angeles.
There is still debate among practicing Catholics over many issues in
the Church even 45 years after the end of Vatican II. But Fr. Massa
sees debate as a good thing: "It means that the faith is alive and
people take it seriously. It's only when it turns acrimonious that's
Terms such as "conservative" and "liberal," or "right" and "left,"
don't do the debate justice, adds Fr. Massa. "We need to diffuse and
depoliticize the debate in the tradition of [Cardinal] Avery Dulles, SJ."
Fr. Massa says that history tells us that ripples from Vatican II are
still coming. "It can take years, centuries to see changes," he
remarked. One aspect of the Second Vatican Council that Fr. Massa
feels has not been completely fulfilled is "empowering the laity to
A native of Ohio, Fr. Massa assumed the deanship of STM this past
summer. He was previously at Fordham University where he served as
Karl Rahner Distinguished Professor of Theology and founded and
directed the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies.
He is a member of the American Society of Church History, the
Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Studies
Association. He also is the author of several publications, including
the award-winning book Catholics and American Culture: Fulton Sheen,
Dorothy Day, and the Notre Dame Football Team.
Registration is required to attend Fr. Massa's Nov. 3 lecture. See