Articles on Vatican II - Fifty years Later
It is often said that the Church thinks in terms of centuries and that it often takes that long for the Church to "catch up" with what the rest of the world has already realized.
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The Second Vatican Council was, at its heart, a missionary council. Pope John XXIII had convoked the council, among other reasons, to discuss how to present the Church's teaching more effectively to the modern world.
In November, the Vatican published a book entitled Interreligious Dialogue in the Official Teaching of the Catholic Church (1963-2013). While the book is not likely to become a bestseller, its publication is a significant event.
During the period prior to the start of the Second Vatican Council, there was no pressure for or interest in issuing a conciliar statement on relations between Christians and Jews.
Cardinal Augustin Bea, a German Jesuit Scripture scholar who served as the first head of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity, must go down as one of the great heroes of the Second Vatican Council.
The closest vote at the Second Vatican Council was over whether to discuss the Virgin Mary in a separate document or to include that discussion as part of its document on the Church.
In the preparations for the Second Vatican Council, Blessed John XXIII asked that a document be prepared on the veneration of the saints.
When the Second Vatican Council spoke of the universal call to holiness, it raised another issue. If, because of our baptismal consecration, we are called and empowered to be holy, where do religious orders fit into the picture?
The role of the laity was one of the least-debated topics at the Second Vatican Council. Popes Pius XI and Pius XII had already laid out a vision of the laity as serving on the front lines of the Church – those who take the Church’s teaching and apply it in the secular sphere.
One consequence of the Second Vatican Council was that it seemed to make everybody busier. More people became involved in more ministries, and the number of meetings exploded. Where the Church had previously been disengaged from the issues of contemporary society, it now seemed to have an opinion about everything.