Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Vatican II!

Catholic University of America (CUA)  in Washington, DC, sponsored a four-day symposium titled "Reform and Renewal: Vatican II After Fifty Years," September 26-29, 2012.

Keynote speakers included Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father John O'Malley, SJ, historian and professor of theology at Georgetown University, and Monsignor Paul McPartlan, professor of systematic theology at CUA.

Their talks and subsequent workshops offered a positive interpretation of the Second Vatican Council and highlighted the many encouraging consequences resulting from the Council's teaching.

Cardinal Levada echoed Pope John Paul II's assessment that Vatican II was "the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century...a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning."

His Eminence noted the many developments in theology that preceded the Council and which became part of the Council's teaching, such as the liturgical movement, Patristic revival, and the biblical movement, "sparking a ressourcement in theological and historical disciplines."

The text of Levada's talk is online at

Father O'Malley's focus was on "The Hermeneutic of Reform: From Gregory VII to Benedict XVI," proposing that the reforms of Vatican II were motivated by and developed from a combination of resourcement (a return to the past to correct the present), aggiornamento (Pope John's term for renewal), and development (the theology proposed by John Henry Cardinal Newman in the 19th century).

O'Malley added, "When Pope Benedict XVI proposed a hermeneutic of reform for interpreting Vatican II, he stepped away from the sharp dichotomy of rupture/continuity that he had earlier insisted upon. Historians, surely, must welcome the new category. They know that the sharp dichotomy of rupture/continuity is never verified in historical events, which are always a mix of the old and the new. An event as radical as the French Revolution did not destroy the deep bond that contributed to define what it meant to be French."

The text of O'Malley's talk is online at

Monsignor McPartlan addressed the issue of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, insisting on the primacy of charity in ecumenism and observing that we need less arguing and more praying if we are to achieve a sense of unity.

Other CUA professors spoke to the apostolate of the laity, the liturgical and theological developments, religious freedom, Gaudium et spes, renewal of moral theology.

Over 500 participants attended one or more of the four day's sessions, many clergy and religious, seminarians and lay people, some students at CUA, and a few attendees from other parts of the country.

The tone of the symposium was positive, though some speakers (Cardinal Levada among them) acknowledged that some of the Council's initiatives have yet to be realized.

It is encouraging to see that other Catholic universities (e.g., Georgetown, October 11-12, 2012, as well as Saint Louis University, Saint Joseph's University) are not letting the Council's anniversary go unnoticed. Parishes across the country are also commemorating the golden anniversary, using the jubilee as an occasion for reviewing the letter and the spirit of the Council and recommitting to the direction set by this 21st ecumenical council of the Church.

It is good to know that fifty years later, Mother Church is still rejoicing that the Second Vatican Council, "by the singular gift of Divine beside St. Peter's tomb" was solemnly opened by Pope John XXIII on October 11, 1962.

Happy Birthday!

1 comment:

  1. The greatest blessing of the council was our wonderful Catechism of the Catholic Church which was designed to put out the correct and complete record of how our actual teaching were impacted by Vatican II and all that had come before. It gives those who care about the Church the opportunity to align their belief with these actual teaching rather than many errors of teaching which some were promoting.