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Will Vatican II ever be Vatican 2.0? – Part I

In Religion on October 31, 2012 at 1:42 am

What is Vatican II?

After World War II, the Vatican under the leadership of Pope John XXIII, convoked in 1962 a meeting of over 2500 Catholic Bishops from across the world.  This meeting is commonly referred to as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II for short.  In the last 500 years, there have been only three such ecumenical councils of such magnitude and importance:  Council of Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II.  Needless to say, Vatican II was an important gathering of bishops.

Last month, October 11th, we celebrated Vatican II’s 50th anniversary.  I reflect on what the fuss was all about back then and it it had any desired impact on Christendom.

Why did they meet?

Pope John XXIII did not have a specific crisis to solve.  They were not meeting to solve any particular burning issue of the day.  In the words of John XXIII, Vatican II aimed

…to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.”  

The world was rapidly changing in front of them.   New divisions, alliances gave rise to new boundaries.  The church had to go through a tectonic shift in ideology to be relevant to a globalized citizen.  Vatican II wanted to reach out to all people in a new way that has never been done before.  Pope John XXIII called this updating of church ideology as aggiornamento.  A remarkable change in attitude, considering it’s previous rejection of modern, liberal life as heresy. 

What did Vatican II accomplish?

After three years of deliberations, Vatican II came out with some new directions.  Some of the documents developed new directions and underscored these important ideas for a modern world:

  1. building ecumenical bridges, especially across the  Christian-Jewish faiths
  2. permitting Mass to be celebrated in regional local languages instead of only in Latin
  3. defining the church as the people of God. Emphasis on the active role of laypeople
  4. make the church more effective in proclaiming the Gospel to the modern world.  Bring to light the positives in modern culture
  5. all Catholics to remain effective messengers of Gospel values in a pluralistic public square.

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