Column by Glen Argan on the history Vatican II - 50 years Later
As the years go by, it gets increasingly difficult to detect without research some of the shifts in thinking that occur in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. They have been part of us for so long and, indeed, a majority of today's Catholics have no recollection of the Church prior to the council.
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Religion is based on sacrifice. The problem that religion faces is that even the greatest sacrifice offered by a finite person cannot hope to bring one into the presence of the infinite God.
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the first document approved at the Second Vatican Council. Unlike the council's other major documents, it sailed through the approval process fairly readily, although a tiny but vocal minority at first raised strenuous objections.
Patriarch Maximos Saigh, head of the Melkite rite in Antioch, made his introduction to the Second Vatican Council by breaking a rule. Instead of speaking Latin as the rules required, the patriarch spoke unapologetically in French.
All of the preliminaries were now over and the Second Vatican Council got down to business. But what business would that be? Of the 70 schema (proposed documents), the council fathers had seen only seven. Of those seven, by far the most important were those on divine revelation and on the liturgy.
It didn't take long for the tide to turn at the Second Vatican Council. Curia officials had spent much of the 44 months between the day Pope John XXIII announced the council until it actually began planning for how they believed it should be carried out.
When Blessed Pope John XXIII began his speech to open the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962, many, perhaps most, of the bishops in St. Peter's Basilica expected to receive their marching orders for the council.
In mid-summer 1960, the preparations for the Second Vatican Council entered their second and final phase. Ten commissions were established to take the material submitted by bishops and Catholic universities from around the world and to develop documents to be considered by the council when it began.
From our point in history, more than 100 years after the so-called modernist crisis of the early 20th century, it is easy to be appalled by the Church's repression of any and all creative theology in the 60 years prior to the Second Vatican Council.
Angelo Giuseppi Roncalli, the pope who convoked the Second Vatican Council, was a pope like no other in the 20th century. He rose to become Pope John XXIII basically under the radar and was formed by a unique set of experiences that helped him understand that the action of the Holy Spirit is not confined to the Catholic Church.