Friday, 12 February 2010

Implementing the Second Vatican Council

I am old enough to have been alive, though below the age of reason, at the time of the Second Vatican Council. (Some probably think I am still below the age of reason, but let's not go there!) This means that I am of a generation that missed out on a direct experience of some of the expectations that arose around the events of the Council itself, but who have lived our entire Catholic lives in the post-conciliar environment.

For this reason, one aspect of the dialogue for unity in the Church is that of trying to enter in to, and understand, the expectations with which some went into the Second Vatican Council. I think one does need, simply as a matter of historical precision, to draw a distinction between the expectations of these participants in the Council and in its surrounding events, and what one might term the phenomenon of the Council in itself. But, nevertheless, trying to understand those expectations is part of the dialogue that needs to take place with regard to the Council. This is why I have included in my links list under this heading the site Vatican II - Voice of the Church. I think there are two strengths to this site in the engagement in dialogue. The first is its inclusion of original documentation, not just linking to the texts of the Council documents, but including what might be considered original testimony of the expectations of some associated with the Council. The second is its particular, though not exclusive, focus on the life and contribution of Bishop B C Butler, who I think is worth understanding as a representative of the expectations with which some approached the Council.

There is, of course, another side to the question of the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. For the Catholic generation to which I belong that side is perhaps primarily represented by the figure of Pope John Paul II, whose pontificate we would characterise as a work of implementing the Council, and whose pontificate occupies the majority of our adult Catholic lives. I have therefore including a link to Amazon's review of his Sources of Renewal in the links under this heading.

One of the things that I would like to encourage is a conversation between these two sides of the question of the implementation of the Council. On the one hand, unity will not be promoted by the instant dismissal of those who are still trying to live the expectations, perhaps partial and misguided, of the Conciliar times; and, from the other side of the debate, unity will not be promoted by the instant dismissal of the lives and work of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as some sort of rejection of the Council. A genuine conversation is needed.

[I have, of course,  left a gap in this post with regard to the pontificate of Pope Paul VI. I hope to sort that out soon.]

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