Collins urges college students to study Vatican II documents

Cardinal Thomas Collins

Cardinal Thomas Collins

March 4, 2013

TORONTO – The teachings of the Second Vatican Council may be more than 50 years old but they shouldn't be regarded as irrelevant on today's post-secondary campuses, said Cardinal Thomas Collins.

"Vatican II is very important for all of us and certainly it is important on Catholic university campuses," said Collins, the archbishop of Toronto.

"It is important to study the texts of the documents because that is where we really find Vatican II; that's really where the Holy Spirit speaks to us through what was actually written."

Collins recently discussed Vatican II with students at Toronto's University of St. Michael's College.

He told students that one of the major misconceptions is that everything pre-Vatican II was thrown out and that everything post-Vatican II is new, a concept he referred to as the lens of rupture.

"That is an absolutely wrong-headed approach," and can steer students away from reading the documents of the council, said Collins.


Vatican II should be perceived through "the lens of continuity," he said. That means understanding that Vatican II built upon the concepts developed over almost 2,000 years of the Church.

"The idea that somehow the Catholic Church sort of pitched what it had been doing for 1,965 years and suddenly put in something that is better is just false," said the cardinal. "A very important thing is to have an understanding of that."

Alexander Zappone, who's enrolled in St. Michael's Christianity and Culture concurrent teacher education program, grasps this.


"It is a collection of documents which contain the beauty of a rich intellectual tradition being passed on to a new generation," said the member of the religious and community affairs commission.

The commission organized the cardinal's talk.

Collins said reading Vatican II documents should result in a deeper understanding of the motives behind the actions of Christ which in turn should help readers live a similar way regardless of their faith.