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Monday, May 25, 2015

Vatican II Revisisted

What Critics Get Wrong About the Significance of Vatican II
Drew Christiansen | May 22 2015
French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran opened a four-day conference at Georgetown University Thursday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican II quoting the late French President Charles de Gaulle. Reflecting on the significance of the council, the cardinal recounted, the general told the apostolic nuncio to Paris, the council was “the most important event of the century, because you can’t change the prayer of a million men and women without affecting the balance of the planet.”

“Without pronouncing dogmatic sentences,” the cardinal said, “the Second Vatican Council expressed its teaching on many questions which occupy the conscience and activity of man.”


Georgetown University church historian John O’Malley, S.J., took direct aim at the mistaken belief that a pastoral council is less weighty than a dogmatic.
 “If, indeed, we look at the number and importance of Vatican II’s teachings,” Father O’Malley said, Vatican II is not Council Lite but the very opposite.” He went on then to identify the council’s teaching. Among those he listed were:
  • what God has revealed is not a set of propositions but (Christ’s) very person;
  • Sacred Scriptures is inerrant only in what “serves to make the people of God live their lives in holiness and increase their faith”;
  • the purpose of church is to promote the holiness of its members;
  • “‘the people of God’ is a valid, crucially important and, moreover, traditional expression of the reality of the church”;
  • the church has “the responsibility of exerting itself for the well-being of the world”;
  • “the dignity and excellence of political freedom”;
  • freedom to follow conscience in choice of religion; and
  • “the dignity of conscience, ‘that most secret core and the sanctuary of the human person.’”
These teachings are not constitutive doctrines, like the Trinity and Incarnation, “but they are nonetheless,” said O’Malley, a historian of both the Council of Trent and of Vatican II, “truths of the utmost importance for understanding…what it means to be a Christian in the world today.


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