The Second Vatican Council

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The Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council, otherwise known as Vatican II, radically changed the dynamics of the Catholic Church as it was known. Vatican II was a meeting of the world’s bishops for four sessions between October 11, 1962 and December 8, 1965. When Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council in 1962 (What are Catholics to think of Vatican II), some people in the Church were fearful of possible changes, but the majority of Catholics welcomed the opportunity to change with open arms. Vatican II was the first major step toward the “full, conscious and active participation” by the laity in the Church’s liturgical life. (Vatican II liturgical changes) The theme of the Second Vatican Council was “aggiornamento” which literally means “getting up to today”. (Vatican II: The Vision Lives On) Vatican II could be considered the most significant event of the modern era in the Catholic Church. Although there were some drawbacks, it had many positive impacts on the Catholic Church.

The founder of Vatican II, Pope John XXIII, was born in a small Italian Village in 1881 with the name of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) He was one of thirteen children in his family who worked as sharecroppers and were very poor. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Angelo Roncalli and his family lived a very humble life and that shaped him into the man that he became. Roncalli was pleasantly shocked when he was named pope and humbly accepted his new role in the Church. Angelo Roncalli was ordained a priest on August 10, 1904, elected a Cardinal by Pope Pius XII on January 12, 1953 and named pope on October 28, 1958. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Already an old man when he was named pope, many thought that Pope John XXIII would be simply an “interregnum” or “stop-gap” pope especially having to follow the great pontifical reign of Pius XII. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Nobody expected Pope John to do much as pope and they just thought we would be a temporary pope. Pope John XXIII proved to be a strong, active pope and his influence was felt around the world, as he was loved by all men. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Many people respected and loved Pope John that they called him “Good Pope John” or “Blessed John”. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Blessed John XXIII shocked the world when he called the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, just four years after he was elected pope. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) The pope saw major problems in the Catholic Church and decided it was time to do something about it. “Pope John has told us that the first idea of the Council came to him in connection with the problems concerning all men and particularly that of peace.” -Cardinal Bea (The True Spirit of Vatican II) Pope John XXIII expressed the hope that it would be a means of spiritual renewal and reconciliation of the Church to the modern world, and service to the unity of Christians. (Vatican II After Fifty Years)

Many people were very enthusiastic when Pope John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council including Pope John Paul II when he said, “Vatican II is a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.” (Quotes on Vatican II) Before Vatican II, previous councils had almost always been convoked for a precise question to which they were to provide an answer, but this time there was no specific problem to resolve. (Pope Benedict XVI’s Recollection of Vatican II) There was not one major concern that everybody knew about, but it was more like a evaluation for the Catholic Church to see where they were at. There was a total of 2,860 council fathers, or world bishops, that participated in Vatican II. (Vatican II and the Church in the Modern World) Pope Benedict XVI remembers the procession of more than 2,000 bishops into St. Peter’s...
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