Stories of Vatican II: The Human Side of the Council

Time mag’s award winning Vatican II reporter

As the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s historic Second Vatican Council approaches in 2012, author and journalist Robert Blair Kaiser—one of the last surviving eyewitness of Vatican II—offers an acute, informed account of this historic event, full of stories about the men and women who fought to update the Church. He will be available for talks in India, from 15th September to 1st October, 2012.

Kaiser spent 18-hour days conducting interviews in an effort to illuminate what was going on inside and around the Council hall—which was closed to the press—and report it to the world. He shares delightful anecdotes about his experiences, including how he made friends among the Council’s leaders, many of whom ended up in his home every week for Sunday supper, including more than 70 bishops from around the world, the Church’s most prominent theologians, and a half dozen Protestant and Jewish observers. (Hans Kung of Germany, for example, was usually the last one there, drinking Rusty Nails and commenting on the Council’s ups and downs; the Jesuit Archbishop T.D. Roberts, retired of Bombay, came to dinner one night and stayed as Kaiser’s house guest for two years.)

With a unique perspective as both a reporter and a witness, Robert Blair Kaiser illuminates the work of the Council between October 1962 and December 1965, while putting those events into context with the major problems confronting the Church, and the world at large, today.

Kaiser believes that the Council helped us all be more real, more human, and more loving; that it helped us realize that the world was a good place. He recalls what kind of Church we lived in before Vatican II, and what the Council did to change that—irreversibly.

Robert Blair Kaiser is an American author and journalist, best known for his writings on the Catholic Church. A former Jesuit, Kaiser left the Society of Jesus three years shy of ordination to pursue a career that took him to the pinnacles of American journalism. Throughout the Second Vatican Council, Kaiser was Time magazine’s reporter in Rome and the preeminent reporter on the Council in the English-speaking world. For his work on the Council, Kaiser won the Overseas Press Club Award for best foreign reporting on foreign affairs. His book Pope, Council, and World: The Story of Vatican II was a #1 bestseller in London and Dublin.

In addition to his reportage on Vatican II, Kaiser covered religion for The New York Times and CBS Television News, as well as the most recent papal election for Newsweek. He has published 15 books, five of them on the Church during and after Vatican II. One of the few men still living who took an active role in the Council, Kaiser has become an internationally recognized commentator and lecturer on the meaning of Vatican II.

Read Kaiser’s recent article:



Filed under Robert Blair Kaiser, Vatican II reporter

6 responses to “Stories of Vatican II: The Human Side of the Council

  1. Kaiser could be keynote speaker to an elite body of the diocese – say all the commission members along with all the priests and religious, plus the CAB, ICYM, AICUF, YCS, CLC etc…
    Let us not waste the occasion of Kaiser’s visit with just one lecture, attended half-heartedly…
    Let him guide and inspire while each commission, youth group and religious or diocesan body evaluates its own vision and performance.

    Why not a day long stock taking event?
    This is in deed a fitting and serious way to launch the YEAR OF FAITH in the archdiocese… even in the Bengal region…
    Though time is short… we can still sell the idea to others in the 12 regions.

  2. Dominic Emmanuel

    Who has invited him and how long is he going to be in India? And is he landing in Delhi? His programme may be chalked out well in advance and I dont think he will be available just on call, would he? It would be also not fair to him to treat him on an ad hoc basis? Would be happy to get more details on his visit though.
    Dominic Emmanuel

    • Your contact is Gaston Roberge SJ, St. Xavier’s College, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata 700 016, India. Tel: 91 33 2255 1165
      Mobile No. NEW as on 3 August 2012: 8902175533

  3. Father Anand Muttungal

    It is a great idea to listen a person who actively observed the meetigs as a journalist. I wish him all whho would attend his programme best wishes.

    May God bless

  4. I.P.Sarto

    glad to read the inside story of Vatican II from an eye witness. I hope to listen to him when he gives a talk in Calcutta. It is a good time to relook at the Vatican II when we commemorate the Year of Faith.
    Thanks Paul for forwarding the link

  5. Gaston Roberge

    I am happy to inform you that St. Xavier”s College will invite Kaiser to give one of his talks for Kolkata at St. Xavier”s itself. We may invite in our Auditorium (of 500 places) some people of other religions to give the meeting an interreligious aura. Our Principal would like the event to be on Saturday, 15 September, at 6 pm.

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