It’s been a half a century since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, more popularly known as Vatican II, and the impact continues to reverberate across the Church and the world. But what does this mean for the next 50 years? What has the post-Vatican II generation inherited and how will they carry the council forward?
Dr. Gary Adler, director of research for the Institute, was invited to join a national group of highly respected group of his peers in early March at the Center for Religion and Culture at Fordham University to consider these and other questions around what it means to be Catholic in the 21st century.

John McGreevy, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame and former IACS board member, began the conference by arguing that Vatican II opened the Catholic Church to the world at the precise moment that a decades-long decline of institutional strength began in the American Catholic Church. Scholars of Vatican II have often noted these sorts of intended and unintended consequences. But what of the yet-to-be seen consequences?
During a session Dr. Adler moderated on the agenda of “Catholic intellectuals” in the next fifty years, four presenters discussed the continuing conflicts at local levels of Church authority, the challenge of new technology to spiritual awareness, the continuing need to orient towards the global poor, and the growing specter of human-made climate change.
According to Dr. Adler one stark theme is quite clear: the post-Vatican II generation of scholars feels free of internecine conflict of the past and do not anticipate a Vatican III to address these topics. The challenge for this generation of Catholic scholars is demonstrating the vitality of thinking with the Church, even for those scholars of many disciplines trained and working well outside of it.

For more information, and to hear excerpts from the conference presentation, please visit Fordham News website at