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Insider tales from Vatican

Robert Blair Kaiser

Fifty years ago, the Second Vatican Council had convened to take decisions about the workings of the Church. One of the last living persons privy to the Council is coming down to St. Xavier’s College to speak about it next week.

Robert Blair Kaiser, American author and journalist, had been deputed by Time magazine to cover the Council, which started on October 11, 1962 and ended on December 8, 1965.

He will address an audience at the St. Xavier’s College auditorium on his experiences and the human side of the Council.

“It is a unique opportunity for everyone not just because they get to hear one of the most famous journalists, but because they get to hear about the Council,” said Father Gaston Roberge, a senior professor of the college.

Father Roberge, along with Sunil Lucas, president of SIGNIS India (Catholic association for radio, television and cinema) and Father C.M. Paul, has been instrumental in organising the visit.

Calcutta would be Kaiser’s first stop in India. He will also speak at the Conference of Religious India, Bengal at Loreto College and Morning Star College, Barrackpore. He will also visit Shillong, Pune, Mumbai and Delhi.

The talk, titled ‘Steps to a Church of the People for the People’, will be held on the Park Street campus on September 15 at 6pm, followed by a felicitation ceremony and a dance presentation by a student of the college.

The invitation cards for the event will be available at the reception desk of St. Xavier’s College.

“We want to felicitate him and show him our gratitude for his work during the Council,” said Father Roberge.

Kaiser, who had been a Jesuit for 10 years but left the Jesuits three years before he was to be ordained, has also been a journalist with The New York Times and has published 13 books, four of which deal with Catholic Church reform.

“For me, this talk by Kaiser is not a show; it is a religious event, not to project Catholic activity, but humanity,” said Father Roberge. “After centuries, the Pope had called upon members of the Church for a kind of renewal that looked at the power structure and the lack of democratic life within the Church as well as the obsession with rational thinking that reduced faith to dogmas. We will get to see a picture about the human side of that Council from Kaiser.”