Thursday, October 11, 2012

50 years ago

My last visit to the Vatican in May, 50 years after the Council
Fifty years ago today, October 11, the fourth child from a family of Italian sharecroppers convened a meeting of Roman Catholic Church leaders designed to “open the windows” of the nearly 2,000-year-old institution to let some fresh air inside. What he got instead was a hurricane!
Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council, now remembered as “Vatican II,” began October 11, 1962, with pomp and ceremony. It concluded more than three years later under Pope Paul VI with a transformed church, a church still struggling to digest – and in some cases accept – the changes that the conclave approved. Now, Pope Benedict XVI, who participated in the council as a young theological adviser then known as Father Joseph Ratzinger, is using the anniversary to launch a “Year of Faith” to call attention to evangelization, to encourage Catholics to rediscover their faith.

Another outdoor liturgy in St Peter's square will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, launching the church's 13-month Year of Faith. In a poignant nod to the milestone, no less than a dozen of the 69 surviving Council Fathers will be on hand to concelebrate. The documents, constitutions and other letters were approved by vote during the Council, and the documents were published in a book, which is still quite popular today, and will be studied and discussed over the next year to commemorate this milestone, the golden jubilee of the Vatican Council II. The first Vatican Council was convened by Pope Pius IX in 1870. I was honored to re-visit the Vatican earlier this year, 50 years after the Council, and 46 years after serving as an altar boy at St Peter's Basilica in the summer of 1966.

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