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THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL

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THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
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  INTRODUCTION.  The First Vatican Council was adjourned in 1870, following the solemndenition of papal infallibilit! "nl a part of its tas# had been accomplished,but it was destined ne$er to meet again! %ope %ius &' died in 1878, and $epopes had come and gone before the (econd Vatican Council was proclaimedb %ope )ohn ''&&&! This *1st and most recent ecumenical council of theCatholic Church too# place at the Vatican from "ctober 1+* through-ecember 1+.! /lessed )ohn ''&&& announced his intention to con$ene the (econdVatican Council shortl after his election as pope in 1+.8! hen as#ed wh hefelt a council was needed, the pope said he wanted to bring a gust of freshair2 into the Church, to throw open the windows of the Church so that we cansee out and the people can see in!2 3e is reported to ha$e dramaticall 4ungopen a window to illustrate his point! /ecause the First Vatican Council had been cut short nearl a hundredears earlier, it failed to deal with man of the pastoral and dogmatic issuessrcinall planned on the agenda! The pope belie$ed 5 and man agreed withhim 5 that this had left the Church ill6euipped to deal with the social,economic, political and technological challenges of the modern world! 3e had no intention of changing Catholic doctrine rather he sought toappl it di9erentl and ma#e it #nown more widel! &n his time he sensed thatnew was were needed to communicate Christian doctrine to re$eal theinherent attracti$eness of the :ospel, while protecting its integrit! 3e said inhis address to the bishops at the opening of the (econd Vatican Council in1+*, ;Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more e<caciousl! /lessed )ohn died a few months into the council! =pon his election,howe$er, %ope %aul V& immediatel announced that the council would continueunder his leadership! Vatican && resulted in 1 major Church documents  Four constitutions  Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Sacrosanctum Concilium  and :audium et (pes! Three Declarations  Gravissimum Educationis, nostra Aetate, and Dignitatisumanae ! Nine Decrees   Ad Gentes, Presbyterorum Ordinis , Apostolicam Actuositatem , Optatam Totius, Perectae Caritatis, C!ristus Dominus, "nitatis#edintegratio, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, $nter %iri&ca ! >an within and outside 1  the Church $iew these documents as the most pastoral and signicantdocuments in recent Christian histor! Chapter 1HISTORICAL CONTEXT OF THE SECOND ATICAN COUNCIL. Vatican && came during a series of e$ents both in the world and thechurch! 1.1The !orl"  There was the rst and second world war, and man Catholics weresaing that we need to address this $iolence and create a peacefulcoe?istence! "f course after the war then came the cold war and now ou hada whole section of @urope cut o9 from the rest! After that there was also a militant atheism, an o<cial atheism practicedin the (o$iet =nion! "f course atheism has been there for a while but now ouhad a political atheism, go$ernment sponsored atheism and how is the churchgoing to address that! &n 1+B., the war would e$entuall come to an end after ears of ghtingand man li$es lost! ations had been left torn apart and life had becomealtogether changed! The great empires were dismantled and ou had the riseof new independent states! Colonialism was o$er! (o now ou had localchurches in di9erent countries especiall in Africa and Asia, who were nowha$ing to deal with their own local go$ernments, some of which were friendlto the church some were not! From the Dorean ar E1+.0 to the construction of the /erlin all E1+1to the nuclear missile crisis in Cuba E1+*, the world seemed to ha$e bac#editself into a corner! &t is true that the oung president elected in o$ember of 1+0 in the =nited (tatesG )ohn F! Denned, a CatholicGaroused enthusiasmand opened up the prospects for renewal, but it is di<cult to #now howsignicant this was for the decision of the elderl pope! 1  &n the areas characteriHed b a strong Christian presence, in the orthern3emisphere, there was a widespread con$iction that the churches had nochoice but to support the anti6communist e9orts of the estern bloc! /ut thiswas o9set b a growing sense of disuiet nourished b the con$iction that the 1 :! A I/@J&:", A /rief 'istory o Vatican $$ , /A:I"J@, T3@"I":&CAI %=/I&CAT&"(& &-&A, *007, **  centuries6old reciprocal support between political institutions and churches wasin deniti$e decline! The modern $ersion of Christendom seemed less and lessa rele$ant and con$incing model! 1.#The church &t was not onl what was going on in the world but also what was goingon in the church! / most measurable criterion, the church in the late 1+.0swas in a $er good health! &f were to ta#e the =nited (tates as an e?ample ,thechurch was in a 4ourishing state! The rate of church attendance was $er high,there was an abundance of religious $ocations, most parishes had a school! &twas spirituall health as well, people were de$out, people were generalltring to li$e up to the teachings of the church!  The *0th centur has of course been a missionar age! And so at the endof the fties the church was growing rapidl in Asia and in Africa! &t was soonseiHing to be a predominantl western church! estern @urope had traditionall been the heart of the church and hereperhaps the situation was not uite good! There were western @uropeancountries, we can mention &reland for e?ample, (pain, where le$els of churchattendance and de$otion was e?tremel high but in some countries perhapsFrance was the notable e?ample, leaders of the church were rather worriedabout what the saw as a measurable decline! There the rate of churchattendance was lower and it seemed to be getting lower all the time! 1.$Currents o% Rene!al.  There were also currents of renewal going on before the Vatican &&council! /etween 1+*0 and 1+0 there was an attempt b man scholars toreturn to the sources of CatholicismK (cripture, the Fathers of the Church, theliturg, and philosoph! These attempts ga$e rise to a renewal that reshapedthe face of Catholicism at the (econd Vatican Council! There was the &o"ern 'i(lical &o)e*ent  which was made possible in:erman b the critical, historical, and literar methods of in$estigating biblicalte?ts! The Catholic Church was suspicious about these studies, but the turningpoint came in 1+BL, when %ope %ius '&& wrote an encclical called Divino A(ante Spiritu ! &n this, the %ope ga$e Catholic scholars the freedom to use themethods srcinating in :erman that the had formall been forbidden to use!Catholic biblical scholarship began to 4ourish! L   There was also the Litur+ical &o)e*ent  which was an attempt to trto reco$er the liturgical riches of the Church! &ts roots are to found in the/enedictine monasteries of :erman, (witHerland, and France, which hadbegun to encourage a more acti$e participation in the >ass b the lait! Thestudies produced in this subject were to bear fruit in the Vatican CouncilMsConstitution on the (acred Iiturg! There was also the rise of the Ne! Theolo+, ! For too long the Catholictheolog fa$oured in Jome had been limited to the philosoph and theologinherited from the >iddle Ages! The >odernist McrisisM at the turn of the *0th!centur was an attempt to brea# out of this approach and enter into dialoguewith modern thought! (ome scholars in France and :erman in the 1+L0Ms,MB0Ms, and M.0Ms tried to loo# at things in a di9erent wa! A wide range of scholars li#e N$es Congar, 3enri de Iubac, )ean -aniOlou, and >arie6-ominiueChenu in France Darl Jahner and "tto (emmelroth in :erman and 3ans =rs$on /althasar in (witHerland, all tried to return to the biblical and liturgicalsources that had formed the ChurchMs understanding in its rst thousand ears!(ome attended the (econd Vatican Council, where their wor# was to help shapea number of the CouncilMs documents! The nouvelle theologie  as it wascalled, was to set the tone of the Catholic theolog of the second Vaticancouncil! The contribution of se$eral -ominicans was indeed inno$ati$e beforeduring and after the second world war, the called for a theolog that wasoriented towards the sources of Christian faith and not Ee?clusi$el towards asstem based on scholasticism! *   1.-ope ius XII  The o<ce of the %apac was also at a $er high le$el in terms of prestigeand authorit! &n the late 1+.0s! &n 1+L+, pope ius XII  had been elected! 3ehad come to the papal throne as an highl e?perienced Vatican diplomat! 3espent a number of ears in :erman during a $er troubled times! 3e becamethe papal secretar of state, he had tra$elled widel! ;3e e$o#ed $enerationfrom Catholics, man of whom considered him a saint, and he commandedrespect from most othersP L ! 3e had a relati$el long reign nineteen ears! 3ewas a man of Aristocratic birth, aristocratic bearing! (o when %ius ?ii died in *  )! > @TT@%@&:@, )ouvelle T!eologie, )e* T!eology+ in!eritor o modernism,  precursor o Vatican $$ , @ N"JD, TQT CIAJD &T@JAT&"AI, *010, 'iiiB  1+.8, an objecti$e assessment of the church would ha$e said, he left it in a$er good hands, it was in a 4ourishing condition!&t is e$ident that pope %ius '&& had thought of con$o#ing a council! @$enin his teaching %ius '&& was laing a ground wor# for change in the Church! 3ewrote encclicals that helped to prepare the wa for the (econd Vaticancouncil!&n late )une 1+BL, %ope %ius '&& issued the most important *0th6centurdocument on the Church prior to the (econd Vatican Council E1+*6., namelhis encclical letter on the R>stical /od of ChristR Mystici Corporis Christi  which   represented the most signicant shift in ecclesiolog Ethe theologicalunderstanding of the nature and mission of the church since the Counter6Jeformation of the late 1th and earl 17th centuries! The church, theencclical said, does not consist of the hierarch alone but of all the baptiHed,lait as well as clerg and religious! And all of them are called to holiness! B 3e did open Catholic theolog to the fruits of modern biblical scholarshipwith another encclical published later the same ear, Divino afante Spiritu ER&nspired b the 3ol (piritR, which Catholic biblical scholars embraced withenthusiasm! %ius begins his letter b praising %ope Ieo '&&&Ps 18+L encclical Providentissimus Deus , which sought to safeguard the (criptures against$arious modern readings Ecollecti$el referred to as higher criticisms2! Ieowas concerned about the use of the historical6critical method in interpreting(cripture and declared that true science will ne$er contradict (cripture properlunderstood!And in 1+B7 his encclical Mediator Dei   ER>ediator of :odR preparedthe wa for the liturgical renewal and reforms promoted b Vatican &&! >ediator-ei, suggests new directions and acti$e participation instead of a merelpassi$e role of the faithful in the liturg, in liturgical ceremonies and in the lifeof their parish! The encclical also emphasiHes the importance of the@ucharistic cult! The encclical condemned certain e?cesses of liturgical reform L  )! " P>AII@N, 3istor of the %opes, IA33A>, A (3@@- Q AJ- /""D, *010, *8*!B K httpKSSwww!catholiccourier!comScommentarSfather6mcbrienS1+BL6encclical6helped6prepare6the6wa6for6$atican6iiSsthash!a)Lt(L8!dpuf .
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