(N.B.:these are some very sketchy thoughts.)
I bought today the second volume (in the original hardcover edition) of Fr. Francis X. Murphy’s original book(s) on the Second Vatican Council. Fr. Murphy’s “Letters from the Vatican Council” published in the New Yorker and collected and expanded in his books framed the interpretation of the council for many or most American ecclesiastics. He popularized (or is at least blamed for popularizing) many of the ideas traditionally associated with the Council in modern American (non-traditionalist/conservative) Catholic thought particularly that of the paradigm of John XXIII’s aggiornamento being as much a neccesary updating. He also framed the Council as a debate between liberals and conservatives, something I think clearly breaks down when you realize that both Ratzinger and Kueng were “liberals” at the council. That’s why so many people today have to read Ratzinger as having moved to the right, because their view of him is focused on his having been a liberal peritus at the Council. If you find it hard to read Ratzinger as having moved to the right, which I do, then you can look back and say that the analysis of the council as having been a debate between liberal and conservative wings might have to be rexamined.
I’m still looking for volumes 1 and 4 of the work and have only sampled it, so I
don’t have a lot more to say on it.
Another thought. John Paul II was one of the Council Fathers, and Benedict XVI was only a peritus. That makes him the first Pope since 1958 who was not a member of the council.