Remi De Roo: Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop – Book Review

Remi De Roo: Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop. Novalis Toronto, 2012 (176 Pages), details the memories of Bishop Remi De Roo, from Canada who attended the Second Vatican Council as a relatively young bishop. Although, the book will be more interesting for those in Victoria, British Colombia, where Bishop De Roo served as a bishop, the book does contain several gems.

Several of the gems are from the details of his experiences of living through Vatican II which show the biases and insights of the period.

Bishop Remi De Roo describing time during the Second Vatican Council in Rome. “After the Eucharist, the Sacred Scripture, in the form of a richly adorned Lectionary, were enthroned for the veneration of all in attendance. The book was incensed and surrounded with candles. This provided us with a daily reminder that the “real presence” has a variety of forms, as we would later proclaim in our Council teachings. It is worth recalling that an Ecumenical Council is primarily an act of worship, and that the entire Church stands under the light of Revelation. This is a far cry from the sociological interpretation that the mass media so frequently attribute to the Council, considering it as a debating club or reporting mainly on events that had a controversial component or angle.” (Page 38)

Another aspect of the legacy entrusted to the laity as well as the clergy was the call to perfect holiness. During my seminary days, the topic of mysticism was approached with caution. We used the term sparingly to describe saints of long ago. Returning to our sources of the ancient Christian meditative tradition, and discovering that believers have experienced mysticism throughout the centuries, was another awakening. Along with it came a deeper awareness of “divinization,” a concept that the Eastern Church has always held dear, and that is found in the writings of ancient saints. There is nothing more central to a fuller understanding of baptism and confirmation than this call to the divinization of all that is human.” (Page 154)

For students of Vatican II, the above quotes should be enough to prove the worth of the books insights into the era of the Council.

Bishop Remi De Roo, does have some controversial beliefs. (These ideas are also detailed in this other book review –

Of these controversial items was the financial scandal he was involved in, which he apologized for. On top of that was allowing an Anglican deacon to read the gospel during a mass (Page 95). In my opinion this is scandalous. Anglican ministers do not have valid orders and so should not be performing any part of a Catholic Mass. Even if they did have valid orders, it would still be a scandal to the faithful and blur the lines between true faith and a melting pot of true religion.

Bishop Remi also hints at his support of woman’s ordination and the ordination of married men to the priesthood in the book. Fortunately, although Bishop Remi may not have gotten the idea completely, the book details how both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI corrected him on these issues. Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict have definitely settled the issue of woman’s ordination. There is no reason we should be continuing this discussion other than explaining the Church’s position.

Overall, it was a good read as long as the author’s biases are known as one reads.


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