Friday, 26 August 2011

A guide to reading up on Vatican II

"I had reason and occasion to educate myself about Vatican II during the past year and a half while working on a book, and I found it a tremendously affirming, stimulating, and inspiring exercise," writes Ken Trainor at US Catholic.

"With the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II looming next year (October 11, 2012), everyone has just enough time to rediscover this long-ignored and/or taken-for-granted council.

"In fact, I urge all Catholics--conservative, moderate and progressive--to read up on this amazing convocation, called by many the most important religious event of the 20th century. I think you’ll find it has much to say to us still, not just in the documents themselves, but in the actions that produced those documents. There is much, much more to the story of Vatican II than the documents themselves, though more conservative Catholics will try to tell you otherwise," Trainor argues pointing to a list of valuable books for reading up on Vatican II.


One man's guide to reading on Vatican II (US Catholic)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Pope John's secretary recalls the 'four pillars' of Vatican II

Recalling the announcement of Vatican II by Pope John XXIII, Bishop Loris Capovilla, who was the pontiff's personal secretary, has outlined what he calls "the four pillars" of the Council.

“We know today more than ever who we are and where we are going (Lumen Gentium), what language we should speak and what message we should convey (Dei verbum), how much and how hard we should pray (Sacrosanctum concilium), what attitude we should adopt towards the problems and tragedies of contemporary humanity (Gaudium et spes),” Bishop Capovilla, 95, said on the 52nd anniversary of the announcement of the Council, CNA reports.

“These are the four pillars that sustain the building of renewed pastoral ministry and encourage us to listen to God’s voice, to speak to God as his children, and that oblige us to dialogue with all the components of the human family,” he concluded.

Bishop Loris Capovilla also described how the media announced the Council before Pope John had a chance to inform the cardinals, according to an article published Jan. 25 by L’Osservatore Romano.

He noted that the then-Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Domenico Tardini, wrote the following on his calendar for Jan. 20, 1959: “Important audience. Yesterday afternoon His Holiness spent time in reflection and set in stone the agenda for his pontificate. He came up with three ideas: a Roman Synod, an Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) and an update of the Code of Canon Law. He wants to announce these three things next Sunday to the cardinals after the ceremony for the feast of St. Paul.”

Bishop Capovilla said on that Sunday, Jan. 25, 1959, the Pope got up and prayed, but after celebrating Mass, “He remained kneeling longer than usual.”

He then went to the ceremony for the feast of St Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The ceremony ran longer than scheduled, and before he could announce the convening of Vatican II, the press embargo on the announcement expired. The council was then “broadcast by the media before the Pope could communicate it to the cardinals,” the article said.

The Pope still addressed the Roman Curia, “with trembling and a bit of excitement,” about his plans to hold “a twofold celebration: a diocesan synod for the city and an ecumenical council for the universal Church.”

Bishop Capovilla said the council was given three clear directives: to promote interior renewal among Catholics, to raise awareness among Christians of the reality of the Church and of the tasks she is charged with carrying out, and to call on bishops, with their priests and the laity, to assume responsibility for the salvation of all mankind.

The bishop said that 52 years after announcing the council and 46 years after its conclusion in 1965, four Popes have continually emphasized that it was “an event willed by God” and led by “an old man who rejuvenated the Church” at a time when many thought John XXIII was going to be a “transitional Pope.”

“If Vatican II has not yet achieved its goals, this means that our conversion is a task yet to be fulfilled,” he added.


Personal secretary of John XXIII recounts Vatican II announcement (Catholic News Agency)

Monday, 8 August 2011

What future for Vatican 2?

Thomas Worcester, S.J., a Professor of History at the College of the Holy Cross, and a specialist in religious and cultural history, recalls the impact of Vatican II in a piece for the Huffington Post.
For Catholics in the U.S. and elsewhere another significant anniversary is on the horizon: that of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. How it is remembered -- or not remembered -- may be very important for the Catholic Church in the coming decades. Do this in remembrance of me: Catholic worship is centered on ritual remembrance of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Absolutely central to Catholic practice is this remembrance, and Catholics are also a people of tradition: we say that we value what has been handed on over the centuries, from the early church to today. Anniversaries offer a special way in which traditions may be once again received and celebrated.

Public anniversaries are distinguished from family and personal events such as birthdays or anniversaries of marriage or ordination. But even the public anniversaries are also experienced in individual and personal ways. Seen in the light of 2,000 years of Christianity, Vatican II remains quite a recent event, within the lifetimes of older Catholics. Those in their mid-fifties or older will have personal memories of the Council -- at least of how it was reported by the press -- and of its aftermath, and these memories may be revivified by the 50th anniversary.

- Thomas Worcester SJ


What future for Vatican II? (Huffington Post)


Loyola University Chicago

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Comblin reflects on Vatican II

In this article, Vatican II: 50 years later, the late Father Jose Comblin reflects on the Council.
The history of the reception of Vatican II was determined by a totally unexpected event. 1968 is a symbolic date for the greatest cultural revolution in the history of the West, greater than the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution, because it affected all life values and all social structures. In 1968, there was much more than a student protest. There was the beginning of a new value system and a new interpretation of human life.

Vatican II responded to questions and challenges of western society in 1962. The issues addressed, the proposed answers, discussions on church structures, ideas about liturgical reform, had all been prepared by theologians and pastoralists, especially since the 30s in the Central European countries -- France, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and the fringes of northern Italy. European society, destroyed by war, was rebuilt and the church occupied a prominent place in society. It was the government in Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland and it had an interest in the government of France. In fact, it had lost touch with the working class, but the latter was already declining numerically because of the evolution of the economy towards services. The number of practicing Catholics was declining, but not so as to attract attention. The church had a faithful clergy, sufficiently enlightened bishops, although not very social reformist, but identified with the Christian Democrat parties. The great problem of the Church was the tension between the sectors most committed to the new society and the Roman world of Pius XII, supported by the Churches of the least developed and most traditional countries such as Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Italy -- especially south of Florence, and the Catholic peoples of Southeast Europe. The problems were structural and neither dogma nor traditional morality was enough.

In 1968, a total revolution began abruptly that affected all dogmas and all traditional morality as well as all the institutional structures of the Church and society as a whole. In 1968, Vatican II would have been impossible because there would have been no one or hardly anyone to understand what was happening. Vatican II responded to the problems of 1962, but had nothing to respond to the challenges of 1968. In 1968, the Council would have been a conservative Council frightened by the radical cultural transformations that were beginning.

- Jose Comblin (Translated by Rebel Girl)


Vatican II: Fifty years later
(Iglesia Descalza)

This text was published posthumously in “A Cincuenta años del Concilio Vaticano II: verdaderas luces y urgentes desafíos”, Alternativas – Revista de análisis y reflexión teológica, no. 41, 2011, Editorial Lascasiana, Managua, Nicaragua, pp. 11-24.