Presented by Mary Lou Burke
July 7, 2002
SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
Pope John XXIII called for a Church Council on January 25, 1959, and this would be the twenty-first council in the history of the Church. The Council opened on October 11, 1962, with meetings each Fall, and concluded n December 8, 1965. This meeting brought together over 2,500 leaders of the Catholic Church. This was Blessed Johnís solution on how an ancient Church could survive in a world undergoing social, political, technological and cultural transformation. Changes in communication and transportation alone were enormous.
The Council issued four Constitutions, nine decrees, and three declarations. Since the Council ended many changes have been implemented and continue to impact our lives, Living in Godís world today.
- The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) brought the most visible changes, Latin texts were translated in modern languages, more active participation of the faithful, simpler rites, the change in the position of the altar and the priest facing the congregation.
- The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ( Lumen Gentium) shifted the emphasis from the Church as a pyramidal structure to a Church of all the baptized, called to holiness and they have a role in the mission of the Church. Mary is the model and mother of the Church.
- The Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio) noted a change in attitude and practice as regards other Christians. The goal was the reunion of all the separated brethren whose status as true ecclesial communities was recognized.
- The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) stated that the Church has a distinctive contribution to make to human dignity, human community and human activity by interpreting the signs of the times in light of the gospel. It shows a spirit of love and concern for the whole human family, an emphasis on Blessed Johnís big heart.