Catholic Church of Montreal > News > Topics > 50th Vatican II > The Second Vatican Council: Two Visions Later

The Second Vatican Council: Two Visions Later

Fifty years after the Council's inauguration, the hearts of many Catholics rejoice. The event has changed the face of the Church throughout the world, has given wings to the People of God, and has once again placed the Gospel at the forefront of the spirit contained in the teachings of the Church. To celebrate this anniversary, the world's bishops will head to Rome to attend the Synod on the New Evangelization, beginning on the anniversary of the Council's inauguration, October 11, 2012.

By Mario Bard, collaborator

On one side, however, others question the results of this extraordinary event, whose harshest critics claim can no longer lead the Church into the 21st century; they have even called for a third Council. On the other side, other hostile critics have accused the Council of misrepresenting the Church. Between the two positions there are other, more nuanced opinions that seem at first sight to be opposed. Here is a brief look at them.

More work to be done

On one hand, there are the partisans of an even more radical reform of the Church and its structures, following the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, considered to be a rupture from the former ecclesial lifestyle. Jose Comblin, liberation theologian and follower of the "theology of the spade," who died in March 2011, explained - in a posthumously published document that was shared with the Movimiento Teologia para la Liberación movement (Chili) in July 2011 - that other reforms must be undertaken in accordance with the following points:« -The return to the Bible as a permanent reference point for ecclesial life above all further doctrinal elaboration, above dogmas and theologies

  • The affirmation of the people of God as active participants in the life of the Church, both in the testimony of faith and in the organization of the community, with a legal definition of rights and remedies in cases of oppression by the authorities.
  • Affirmation of the Church of the poor.
  • Affirmation of the Church as service to the world and without seeking power.
  • Affirmation of a more intimate ecumenical involvement between Christian churches.
  • Affirmation of the meeting between all religions, or non-religious thought.
  • A liturgical reform that uses symbols and words understandable to contemporary men and women. The commissions formed after Vatican II left many words and symbols that are completely meaningless for Christians today and an obstacle to the mission."

In those circles, there is a call to return to what Father Joseph Moingt calls the "great intuitions of the Second Vatican Council" in his book Faire bouger l'Église catholique, recently published by Desclée de Brouwer.
Another way of saying the Church, in continuity

On the other hand, there are those who maintain that the Council is not a rupture, but continuity. They refer back to the opening address made by John XXIII on October 11, 1962, which stated that, "The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. (...)"
The "good Pope John" added: "In order, however, that this doctrine may influence the numerous fields of human activity, with reference to individuals, to families, and to social life, it is necessary first of all that the Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world, which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate. (...)"

In his homily from September 3, 2000, during the beatification of "papa Giovanni" as the Italians still affectionately call him, John Paul II revisited the passage by saying: "The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world."

Standing in Saint Peter's Square, in front of more than 80,000 people, he also said: "It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history: Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity."

What are your thoughts?

Leave your comments below. We would very much like to read them. Share your memories and opinions on the subject, in 300 words or less.In addition, here are some links that may provide food for thought.Please remember to always respect others' opinions. Thank you!

Interesting Links:

In our section of new releases, a book by Most Reverend Paul-Émile Charbonneau, the only Canadian Council father still alive.
Un même souffle de vie - Les Béatitudes de Jésus Le concile Vatican II

The Council's opening address (in Italian)

A French blog about the Council's 50th anniversary

Gilles Routhier, a Council specialist from Quebec

Anecdote: Pope John leaves Rome!

The decline of Christianity. Does it have a chance?


Please add 3 and 3.*