Master Class on "Councils and Popes: Who's in Charge?"

Oct 12, 2018
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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John O'Malley, SJGeorgetown University

Registration is required. Open to current university students and faculty. A PDF of the assigned readings will be provided.

The purpose of the seminar is to deepen understanding of the historical course of the relationship between councils and popes through an examination of four key texts published at four key moments in the ongoing dialectic between these two institutions. Our time together will be spent on a close reading and discussion of the texts, trying to understand them in their historical contexts. We will read them also with an eye to their possible relevance to the situation of the Catholic Church today. In recent years, for instance, the word synodality has entered our ecclesiastical vocabulary. Synod is the Greek form of the Latin word for council. The two words are, therefore, synonyms. What should this mean for us?


  • The Council of Constance, 1415
  • The Four Gallican Articles, 1652
  • Pastor Aeternus, Vatican Council I, 1870
  • Lumen Gentium (Chapter three), Vatican Council II, 1964


  • Council of Constance: Francis Oakley, The Conciliarist Tradition (Oxford, 2003).
  • Gallican Articles: Richard F. Constigan, The Consensus of the Church and Papal Infallibility (Catholic UP, 2005).
  • Pastor Aeternus: Austin Gaugh, Paris and Rome: The Gallican Church and the Ultramontane Campaign (Oxford, 1986). John W. O’Malley: Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church (Harvard, 2018).
  • Lumen Gentium: John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Harvard, 2008).


1:30pm   Coffee & Tea
2:00pm   Session I
3:25pm   Break
3:35pm   Session II
5:00pm   Wine & cheese reception
6:00pm   End

John O'Malley also gave a lecture on October 11 and participated in a symposium on October 13.

John W. O’Malley, S.J. is University Professor Emeritus of Theology at Georgetown University. A member of the Midwest Jesuit Province, he received his PhD in History from Harvard University in 1965. He has received many academic honors, including twenty honorary degrees, eight best-book prizes, and in 2016 the Centennial Medal from the Graduate School of Harvard University, “the school’s highest honor.”  From 1979 until 2006, John O’Malley was Distinguished Professor of Church History at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology and since then has been at Georgetown University.  In 1995, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science and in 1997 to the American Philosophical Society. His best-known book is The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press, 1993, now in twelve languages. His most recent books with Harvard Press are: What Happened at Vatican II, 2008; Trent: What Happened at the Council, 2013; Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church, 2018; and When Bishops Meet: An Essay Comparing Trent, Vatican I, and Vatican II, 2019.