We present a new series of personal reflections on contemporary issues in the light of Vatican II. The first reflection, Change at the Top, marks the first anniversary of Pope Benedict's resignation and focuses on the implications of this event.
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Welcome to Vatican II - Voice of the Church
The mission of this website is to promote and explain the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) which was the most significant event in the modern era of the Catholic Church. The Council was instrumental for renewal in the self-understanding of the Church, its inner life and its relationship to other Christian traditions, other religions and the world. Those participating in or who lived through the time of the Council felt a profound, exhilarating sense of renewal and virtually experienced a new Pentecost. Pope John XXIII set the tone when opening the Council:
The Church should never depart from the sacred treasure of truth inherited from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and the new forms of life introduced into the modern world.
With the passage of time, and now at the fiftieth anniversary of the years of the Council, there is a widespread feeling that the VaticanII legacy is being lost. Even to speak positively about the Council is to incur suspicion in some quarters. It would be well to recall the words of Pope Paul VI speaking soon after the close of the Council to establish its status:
Whatever were our opinions about the Council's various doctrines before its conclusions were promulgated, today our adherence to the decisions of the Council must be whole hearted and without reserve; it must be willing and prepared to give them the service of our thought, action and conduct. The Council was something very new: not all were prepared to understand and accept it. But now the conciliar doctrine must be seen as belonging to the magisterium of the Church and, indeed, be attributed to the breath of the Holy Spirit. (Paul VI to the Roman Curia, 23 April, 1966)
Whilst the Second Vatican Council took place in the 1960's it has lost none of its relevance nearly fifty years on and should still be centre place in the consciousness of the Church. As Blessed John-Paul II wrote on the eve of the new millennium:
…there [in the Council] we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning
The website benefits from articles and essays by those who experienced the Council first-hand and especially Cardinal König of Vienna and the English Benedictine Christopher Butler. Both were distinguished scholars, Council fathers and members of the influential Council Theological Commission.