After being educated by the Jesuits at Turnhout, Schillebeeckx entered the Dominican Order in 1934. He studied theology and philosophy at the University of Louvain. In 1941 he was ordained to the priesthood. From 1943 onwards he taught at Louvain on Thomas Aquinas and thomism. From 1945 to 1947 he studied at the Dominican study centre Le Saulchoir near Paris, where Marie-Dominique Chenu and Yves Congar introduced him to modern theology. During these years he also studied at the Sorbonne. In 1952 he defended and published his doctoral thesis, De sacramentele heilseconomie (The redeeming economy of the sacraments). The Catholic University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands made him a professor of dogmatic theology and history of theology in 1958. His inaugural lecture Op zoek naar de levende God (Searching the living God) introduced Dutch theologians to the Nouvelle Théologie founded by Chenu, Yves Congar, Hans Urs von Balthasar and others.
During the Second Vatican Council, Schillebeeckx's articles influenced some of the major proposals for constitutions, documents which were distributed to all participants for discussion, debate, and approval. In this way his influence was far greater than that of a formal peritus, a status the Dutch bishops had not granted to him. In 1965, together with Chenu, Cardinal Congar, Karl Rahner, and Hans Küng he founded the new theological journal Concilium, which promoted "reformist" thought. Schillebeeckx admitted “we have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards.” Most Reverend Aloysius S.J. Wycislo, Vatican II Revisted, Reflections By One Who Was There, p. x, Alba House, Staten Island, New York
In the late sixties and early seventies Schillebeeckx turned from thomism to exegesis. He confronted such debated questions as the position of priests and the obligation to celibacy. He was an influential participant at the National Pastoral Council (Landelijk Pastoraal Concilie) held at Noordwijkerhout from 1968 to 1970. At the sessions of this synod, the Dutch bishops, intellectuals, and representatives from many Catholic organisations tried to implement what they perceived as the major progressive objectives of the Second Vatican Council. He was by then known as the leading Dutch-speaking contemporary theologian.
Schillebeeckx's books on Jesus gained a wide readership. His orthodoxy was called into question by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he had to go to Rome to explain his views. Schillebeeckx was accused of denying the resurrection of Christ as an objective fact of faith. Even so, he was mentioned as a candidate for the cardinalate.
Schillebeeckx continued to publish after his retirement. A major study on sacramental theology is still expected to appear. He was the first theologian to win the Erasmus Prize (1982). His oeuvre, surveyed in several bibliographies, has been the subject of many studies and controversies.
The Language of Dissent: Edward Schillebeeckx on the Crisis of Authority in the Catholic Church.(SHORTER NOTICES)(Book Review)
Sep 01, 2005; THE LANGUAGE OF DISSENT: EDWARD SCHILLEBEECKX ON THE CRISIS OF AUTHORITY IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. By Daniel Speed Thompson....