Vatican 2 - After 50 Years

Papal teaching left Vatican II fathers in a quandary

September 22, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Depending on your perspective, the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on Religious Liberty (Dignatatis Humanae) made a major change to an unchangeable Church teaching or only an evolution in that teaching. Either way, the roots that gave rise to the decree go back to the persecution of the Church begun during the French Revolution and which continues in various ways to this day. Prior to the Revolution of 1789, the Church was a dominant and privileged force in France.

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Decree on bishops transforms theology into practice

September 8, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

In discussions about the Second Vatican Council, the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus) is rarely mentioned. That is understandable. The main theological discussion on the nature of the episcopacy takes place in chapter three of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium). Christus Dominus is a document intended to take that earlier constitution and draw out practical implications for how bishops carry out their ministry.

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Eastern churches gain greater respect

August 25, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Although the Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches (Orientalium Ecclesarium) is the third shortest document produced by the Second Vatican Council, it is a significant statement that goes far beyond maintaining the status quo. While the decree is not exactly a Magna Carta for the churches of the East which are in union with Rome, it does signal a shift to a more positive view of those churches than had been the practice of recent centuries.

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Scripture, Eurcharist are food for Christians

July 21, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

A key Protestant belief is the priority of Scripture. Catholics, while not denigrating Scripture, have held to the crucial importance of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. The final chapter of the Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) raises the question of the relative importance of the two. It begins with the striking statement, "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures as it has venerated the body of the Lord" (DV 21).

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Bible has both human and divine authors

July 7, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) was surely the most difficult document to finalize at the Second Vatican Council. The original document on revelation appeared in November 1962 and was soundly rejected by the council fathers. It went through roughly six more major drafts before finally being approved three weeks before the council ended in 1965. To win approval, compromises were needed, and nowhere is that more evident than in the document's discussion of Sacred Scripture.

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Scripture, Tradition flow from the one source of revelation

June 23, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Seemingly miniscule changes in wording can hide major shifts in understanding. So it was when the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) spoke of "Tradition" in comparison with "traditions" referred to in the teaching of the 16th century Council of Trent. The shift from the plural to the singular and from a small "t" to a capital "T" augured a significant shift in Church teaching. For Joseph Ratzinger, this was but one sign in Dei Verbum indicating that Tradition had come to mean something quite different than the strict "passing on" of unchanging truths and laws inherited from the past.

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It pleased God to reveal himself to humanity

June 9, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The most basic question about divine revelation is "why?" Why would God choose to reveal himself to humanity? Every person has an in-built sense of the divine, a sense that at the heart of all that exists, there is mystery. In every culture, religion spontaneously arises because of this wonderment in the face of being.

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Constitution on Revelation born with labour pains

May 26, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

You won't have to travel far in the company of theologians before you find one . . . or many who declare that the Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) was the most important document produced at the Second Vatican Council. To a casual observer, this may not seem so obvious. It was the changes in the liturgy that had the greatest effect on the way we celebrate our faith; it was the document on the Church that cut a swath through clericalism and presented the Church as a communion first and a hierarchy second; it was the document on the Church in the modern world that really moved the Church out of the sacristy and into conversation with the secular movements of the time.

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Council document renewed formation of future priests

May 12, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Montreal's Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger is often cited as one of the more influential reform-minded bishops at the Second Vatican Council. Léger was a man who was transformed by the council. He led his diocese in a triumphalist style prior to Vatican II, but came to see things much differently during those four years in Rome. In 1968, he resigned as archbishop and went to Senegal to serve in a leper colony for 11 years so moved was he by the council's emphasis on service and the poor.

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The transformation from clericalism to priests as servants

April 28, 2014
GLEN ARGAN
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Few groups went through as much change because of the Second Vatican Council as did diocesan priests. This would not be apparent from reading any history of the four years of Vatican II. While there was much controversy over the theology of bishops' collegial authority and a lot of attention was given to the role of the laity, priests seemed to be the forgotten ones.

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