VATICAN II - VATICAN II The first Vatican Council,...

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VATICAN II The first Vatican Council, 1869-1870, was called by Pope Pius IX and by the decisions and theological mood that came forth from the Council everyone assumed that it would be the last such council ever held. Especially symbolic and formative for the Church was the naming of Papal Infallibility as an article de fidea . When Pope Pius XII (1950) proclaimed the dogma of the bodily assumption of the Virgin Mary to be official and binding Church teaching – without recourse to counciliar ratification – it seemed clear that Catholic Church Councils had gone the way of the dinosaur. When Pope John XXIII announced his intention to call a new Ecumenical Council (1962) the Protestant reaction was one of open surprise; Roman Catholic reaction was more guarded but no less startled. John XXIII announced that he sought to open the doors and windows of the Church in order to let fresh air and new light in. The Italian word, aggiornamento , “up-dating” became a sort of by-word for Vatican II. Pope John XXIII announced his intention to call an “ecumenical” council, “ecumenical” in Catholic theology, refers to a meeting of accredited representatives of the entire Roman Catholic Church – throughout the world. But in the larger theological context of the mid-1960s and the World Council of Churches “ecumenical” took on a different meaning, referring to all Christians throughout the world. Vatican II began as a council that intended to be “ecumenical” in the traditional Roman Catholic sense of that term, but it quickly became “ecumenically oriented” in the sense that the Council looked to a future in which a divided Christendom might be more united. The council was primarily concerned with the inner life of Roman Catholicism. But the Church also recognized that what happened at Vatican II would have far reaching effects for the life of all of Christendom. One of the first indications of this unprecedented inclusiveness was an invitation to all people all over the world to send in suggestions about topics the Council should discuss. The invitation was sent through official Roman Catholic channels but it went out to many non-Catholic groups as well. This openness at the planning stage was also manifested in other unprecedented steps: 1. The most imaginative of these was the creation of the office of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. This was not a movement which, as the staunch traditionalist might have thought, came from the fringes of Catholicism – rather the question of Christian Unity became a focal concern for the whole Church. And the men Pope John XXIII appointed to serve in the Secretariat were a group of world-class Catholic scholars and theologians, people who were known and respected by Protestants and Catholics alike. Cardinal Bea headed the office, but it was filled with forward looking, vigorous thinkers. 2.
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course REL THEL 352 taught by Professor Tyson during the Spring '08 term at Houghton College.

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VATICAN II - VATICAN II The first Vatican Council,...

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