Vatican II? Not the pope’s summer residence

October 8, 2012

The teachings of the Second Vatican Council are neither optional nor second-class, but must be seen in the proper context, the former prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said Sept. 26 as he opened a conference at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

The talk by Cardinal William Levada was the first at a Sept. 26-29 conference on Reform and Renewal: Vatican II After Fifty Years.

He began by recounting a conversation in which a colleague recalled asking high school students if they knew what Vatican II was.

“The pope’s summer residence?” one student suggested.

Levada credited his audience at Catholic University with a much greater understanding of the 1962-65 council but said some confusion and misunderstandings remain, such as whether the council was doctrinal or pastoral in nature and whether its legacy should be seen in the letter of the council – the documents it produced – or in its spirit.