"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)


I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, ordained on December 18, 1963. After having taught nearly full-time for 45 years–three at the College of New Rochelle, ten at St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, and thirty-two at The Catholic University of America, I am now retired and able to devote myself to continued research, writing, and lecturing. I assist at Sunday Masses at St. John the Evangelist Church, Goshen, N.Y.

In my teaching and writing I have concentrated on ecclesiology, modern Catholic theology, the thought of John Henry Newman and of John Courtney Murray, and the history and theology of the Second Vatican Council. I am the editor of the English edition of the five-volume History of Vatican II.



  1. Fr Joseph Komonshak

    I loved the selection of limericks from John O’Loughlin msc the former Bishop of Darwin. I worked as a priest in his diocese for a number of years before he died. I have copies of many of the limericks you listed. Among his papers are letters from a number of the leading bishops of the day who seem to have stayed in touch with him after the Council. I recall Fulton Sheen and the Archbishop of Westminster among others. In fact Fulton Sheen quotes a couple of John O”Loughlin’s limericks in one of his books.

    Nice to see somebody else has found this rather unique side of Vat II life.

    Fr Tim Brennan msc -Sydney Australia

    Comment by Brennan Timothy — October 4, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

  2. Fr Joseph,

    I have often looked up your name since John Allen paid you the tribute of being the one who
    challenged his writing the most with your “manichean” charge.I hope that you enjoy your retirement and still have the
    time to pass on what little wisdom life and God have given you.As for Vatican 2, I sometimes read the documents and find some of
    them a little outdated in prose but beautiful.My own favourite piece of humour was from Ottoviani when he was asked about collegiality
    said that the first instance of it in the Gospels was when all of the Apostles acted as one in “deserting the Lord”.

    Comment by David Power — October 13, 2011 @ 4:17 pm

  3. Father Komonchak,
    Greetings. I would like to research further the role of the community in vocational discernment. It seems that much of vocation promotion today is based on the sense of one’s interior, personal feeling of a “call”. I’d like to learn more about the days when the local community decided who was best suited and put that man forth for ordination (even forcibly.) What would you recommend in English? Feel free to email me at bpinter@regis-nyc.org. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Brian B. Pinter

    Comment by Brian B. Pinter — October 19, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

  4. Dear Father Komonchak,
    A blessing to have found your site. I discovered your article in pdf form on American Bishops’ suggestions for V II. Am attempting a biography of one of those Bishops, Henry J. Grimmelsman, S. T. D., and I would be grateful to you for any information or advice you might have. What you have noted about him intrigues me–and harmonizes with what I know about him so far. Ultimately, he was called as a Father, expert in Sacred Scripture.

    Thanks for any direction you might be able to give and

    God bless you.

    Comment by TJM — March 22, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

    • I’m afraid I don’t have any other information about Bishop Grimmelsman apart from what I mentioned in my article. Did he leave any papers? Correspondence with folks back home? Etc.

      Comment by komonchak — March 22, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  5. Fr. Komonchak, I have been trying to do some research on on Giuseppe Dossetti for a course I am teaching ,but having a very difficult time finding any of his writing in English. I have not even been able to find a quality biography. A colleague, Sr. Colleen Mallon, suggested I contact you since you’ve written on him in Italian. Any leads you might be able to offer, would be most appreciated.

    Comment by Ann Garrido — August 27, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    • Prof. Garrido: I don’t know of any translations of Dossetti’s work into English, and not much secondary literature either. I have some information on him and his views of the Council in an article in Cristianesimo nella Storia which I will make available on this blog, if I haven’t already done so.

      Comment by komonchak — September 3, 2012 @ 11:10 am

      • I would be so grateful! Thank you.

        Comment by Ann Garrido — September 5, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  6. Dear Father Komonchak,

    Thank you for providing a translation of Humanae Salutis. I am a newly ordained priest who is preparing for the year of faith and I am glad that I got to read the English translation. Thank you for the work you have done in your priesthood. May God grant you many years.

    Comment by Anthony Urban — August 29, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

  7. Joe:
    Is there any source which lists all the official religious members of the Council?
    Also, is there any way to tell where the meeting of national bishops took place during the council.
    I am thinking of doing some research on the role of Salvatorians (bishops, periti, etc.) at the Council and also
    where our Motherhouse in Rome near the Vatican at the top of the Via Conciliazione was the scene of any
    gatherings of the German bishops or other groups during the council.
    Bob Nugent, SDS

    Comment by Robert Nugent, SDS — October 10, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  8. Dear Father JAK,
    I read your piece on Tracy Rowland with great interest, and found it very helpful.
    Do you have more work on the RO movement?
    Very happy to have found this site of yours.
    Merry Xmas
    Jude, Singapore

    Comment by judechua — December 18, 2012 @ 1:45 am

  9. What a blessing to have discovered the West Nyack Fire Siren, quite by chance, this Veterans Day. Thank you for posting your father’s work. I grew up in West Nyack and heard much about the Komonchaks from my older brother Laurens “Goldie” Goldsmith. He died 10 years ago. How he would have loved reading about these men he knew and loved. I have sent a link to this to my other brother, David, who, I am sure, will also enjoy it. Many thanks. Merrilee Goldsmith Brown (my Dec. ’44 birth is noted in the Jan. ’45 Siren!)

    Comment by Merrilee Brown — November 11, 2014 @ 11:48 pm

    • Thanks for the note, Merrilee. I’m glad that you found the newsletters so interesting. They offer a series of “snapshots” of life in the little town during the Second World War, and for that reason help us understand a little bit of history. Tell your friends about them.

      And I’d love to hear what other people think of them.

      Joe Komonchak

      Comment by komonchak — November 12, 2014 @ 11:32 am

  10. Dear Father: How might one contact you regarding permissions for some of your translations? Thank you in advance!

    Comment by James Vogel — August 27, 2015 @ 2:29 pm

    • Mr. Vogel: I am preparing an edition of these texts, with introductions, to be published next year.

      Comment by komonchak — September 5, 2015 @ 9:59 am

  11. Dear Father Komonchak,
    I have noticed with interest your translations of the preparatory schemas for Vatican II which were rejected by the council fathers in favor of more modern and flexible frameworks which better represented the state-of-the-art in Catholic theological circles at that time. The schemas encapsulate the conclusions drawn by the Curia using the Manualist Methods that predominated in the Church’s official doctrinal expressions up to that point. As such they are a window into the mind of the most conservative elements in the Church prior to the council.

    I am an interested layman and I have sought translations of these schemas over the last 30 years to gain some insight into the actual theological developments that occurred as a result of VCII. I found the Schema on the Blessed Virgin to be most helpful with its large catena of references to the Papal writings outlining the view of the BVM at that time.

    In the places where your translations are current on display on the web, it indicates that you are planning to complete translations of all of the schemas which is to be published soon. Is there a date when we may expect to see this publication made available? What is the title of the book and which publisher will produce it. This is a book I await very eagerly.

    Arthur C. Sippo MD, MPH

    Comment by Arthur C. Sippo MD, MPH — April 20, 2017 @ 11:32 am

    • Dr. Sippo: Thanks for your kind post and for your interest in my translations of the preparatory schemas. I have been working on introductions to the texts, and have to resist the temptation to provide so extensive a background for them that the introductions will be far longer than the schemas themselves! The work is bogged down at the moment, but I hope to get back to them soon so that the book can appear next year. Your interest is motivating me!

      Comment by komonchak — April 21, 2017 @ 3:53 pm

  12. Dear Fr. Joseph, I am trying to reach you by email about your translation of Chenu’s “Une école de théologie”; would you please send me a quick email at christophe.chalamet@unige.ch? Thank you! Christophe

    Comment by Christophe Chalamet — June 21, 2017 @ 4:13 am

  13. Thank you so for publishing the original degrees of Vatican Council II in English. Do you plan to translate all of the original decrees of Vatican II? God bless you & the work you do for the Church!!

    In Domino et Domina,

    Christoper Bates, MDiv.
    Ithaca, NY

    Comment by Christopher Bates — October 21, 2017 @ 12:59 pm

    • I have a contract for a book to be completed by July 1, 2018. It will include translations of the doctrinal texts prepared for Vatican II, but not of other texts.

      Comment by komonchak — October 29, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

  14. I value your online English translations of John XXIII speeches prior to and at the opening of the Vatican Council. Is there a good English translation of his closing speech? Is there a particularly good book or article on his contribution to Catholic acceptance of “historical consciousness?” Sincerely, Joe

    Comment by Joe Reid — April 16, 2018 @ 3:52 pm

  15. Dear Father Komonchak

    I’m extremely grateful for your translations of the texts surrounding the Second Vatican Council. Especially helpful was the translation of De Ecclesia (the one prepared primarily by Tromp). Two questions:

    Do you know of an English translation of the “second draft” prepared principally by Gérard Philips and became the new working document?

    My second question is extremely specific. Do you know if there has ever been a translations into English of Lumen Gentium at particular stages as it progressed? (the Philips draft presumably being the first). In particular one which included the original version of what would become LG12 (the section on charism incorporated as a result of Suenen’s famous speech), as I understand this paragraph was re-written before promulgation. Due to the extremely specific request, I am not expecting a response in the affirmative! In which case, could you point me to the part of the Acta in which this original article could be found?

    I offer a genuine thank you for all you have done, and are continuing to do for the Church. It is appreciated. God bless.

    Comment by John S — August 29, 2019 @ 7:11 pm

    • I don’t believe there is an English translation of the second draft of the De Ecclesia, although I do have a detailed outline of it if you should find that useful.

      Nor do I know of a translation of LG in the various stages of its history. As for no. 12, on the charisms, the best place to see what changes were made in it is to consult the Alberigo-Magistretti “Synopsis historica” at pp. 54-55. which has the draft as sent to the bishops in the spring of 1963 as well as the draft as amended between Nov. 1963 and Jan 1964, after the observations of the bishops. On p. 444-45, you will find in the same volume the doctrinal commission’s explanation of the reasons for the new paragraph on charisms, and on p. 509 you can find the few final responses to proposed amendments to no. 12.

      I don’t have the Acta Synodalia at hand to give you the equivalent pages for what is found in the “Synopsis historica.”

      Comment by komonchak — August 29, 2019 @ 8:31 pm

      • [I posted a response yesterday but it seems not to have come through?]

        Thank you for your quick reply, and for providing the relevant references.

        If you could send me the detailed outline of the De Ecclesia second draft that would be helpful.

        I really appreciate it. God bless

        Comment by John S — August 30, 2019 @ 7:48 am

        • Your first request did come through. I will send the text as an attachment.

          Comment by komonchak — August 30, 2019 @ 9:57 am

  16. Dear Fr. Joseph,

    Thank you for the website with so much useful information, particularly about Vatican II. In one of your articles you mention the good scholarly work which has been doing regarding the Vatican II Antepreparatory contributions made by the Bishops and Universities. Would you mind naming some of the sources which you think are the most helpful in this area. Thank you.

    Fr. Joseph Thomas
    Princeton, NJ

    Comment by Joseph Thomas — October 17, 2020 @ 3:31 pm

    • The best synthetic account of the proposals for a conciliar agenda submitted by bishops and universities remains that of Etienne Fouilloux in the first volume of the History of Vatican II. I know that many particular studies have been published since that cover various countries, regions, and even continents, but I have not kept up on this literature in recent years. Surveys of works on Vatican II such as those compiled by Massimo Faggioli and Gilles Routhier would almost certainly include some of these studies.

      Comment by komonchak — October 19, 2020 @ 10:16 am

  17. Dear Fr. Komonchak,

    My name is Todd Walatka and I’ve been teaching at Notre Dame for the past 10 years. I’ve taught regularly on Vatican II and have published on the reception of the council in Latin America–I’ve used your work many time in my classes!

    I was hoping to set up a phone conversation to discuss your project on the conciliar drafts and speeches from Vatican II. I had been working on a similar project (using drafts in upper-level undergraduate and graduate classes on Vatican II here at Notre Dame) and just saw that you have been putting a book together. Would you have time for a chat? My contact information can be found on my faculty page: https://theology.nd.edu/people/todd-walatka/

    Comment by Todd Walatka — April 13, 2021 @ 5:50 am

  18. Dear Father Komonchak,
    I am an old student of yours from CUA (2009). I’ve been working on a manuscript on Vatican II’s mariology and would like to include your translation of the 1962 schema de Beata Maria Virgine. Has it been published with your other translations of the Vatican schemata yet?

    Thank you for the wealth of resources you’ve made available in English translation.
    God bless you, Father! I hope to hear from you soon.
    -T. Nguyen (13nguyen@cua.edu)

    Comment by Nguyen — October 24, 2021 @ 10:01 pm

    • The text and translation of the draft on the Blessed Virgin Mary are found in the post “The Council that might have been.

      Comment by komonchak — October 25, 2021 @ 10:58 am

      • Wonderful. Thank you for your reply, Father!
        It was suggested to me to include a translation such as yours in the appendix of my book, contracted with CUA Press. Would you be amenable to this? I can share more details via email 13nguyen@cua.edu

        Comment by T. Nguyen — October 25, 2021 @ 11:22 am

  19. Father Komonchak,
    In the interview with Kenneth Woodward in America magazine he asserts the following “fact” as part of a question related to abortion. “…what defense can be made of Catholic politicians who support and advance abortion rights, which is so clearly contrary to the social teachings of the church since at least the second century? Where in the second century is there a church statement about abortion? Thanks for any clarification you can provide, Joe Reid

    Comment by Joe Reid — June 26, 2022 @ 2:53 pm

    • Mr. Reid: I think the reference is probably to the “Didache”, a text perhaps as early as the first century, which forbids abortion and infancticide, proscriptions that also appear in the “Letter of Barnabas,” another very early text.

      Comment by komonchak — June 29, 2022 @ 8:42 pm

      • Dear Father Komonchak,

        Thank you very much for your, as usual, prompt request to questions or requests. I am sure you don’t remember me but as a member of the 1966 class of NAC I well remember you. This October about 20 members of our class are holding a reunion in Saint Paul, Minnesota to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our arrival in Rome and the opening of Vatican II. George Thompson and Bob Hickey will not be present but we will also celebrate their memory and that of our other deceased classmates and friends. Thanks again for your response and your extensive contribution to our understanding of Vatican II and the meaning of being Church. Sincerely, Joe Reid

        Comment by Joe Reid — June 30, 2022 @ 3:09 pm

  20. Dear Fr. Komonchak,

    I greatly admire your comprehensive history of Vatican II and how it came about. I do have one question: was Vatican I ever formally closed? I see references on the web to John XXIII closing it in 1960 but I can’t find any documentation. Also I was under the impression that “only a Council can close a Council”.

    Comment by Dan — September 27, 2022 @ 1:40 pm

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