Second Vatican Council
Sample - 774 words essay topic, essay writing: Second Vatican Council
What was the Second Vatican Council? The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II as it is often called, was an Ecumenical Council, (which means it affected the worldwide Christian community) of the Roman Catholic Church. It began on October 11, 1962 under, Pope John XXIII with over two thousand attendants (Hollis 23). The council ended on December 8, 1965, with Pope Paul VI presiding over the council due to the death of Pope John XXIII in 1963. The council consisted of four different sessions convening in the fall of the four years during which the council took place. Topics discussed and debated throughout the council were issues concerning the church, the liturgy, revelation and scripture, and the clergy.
The general sessions of the council would begin in late September or early October, and end in late November or early December. Special committees met during the remainder of the year to examine and assemble the previous work, and make preparations for the following session. The first session began on October 11, 1962 and ended on December 8, 1962 (Hollis 35). Issues that were deliberated on during this session were liturgy, revelation, the Eastern churches, and communication. After the first session successfully came to a close, planning for the next session came to a standstill when Pope John XXIII died on June 3, 1963 (Hollis 36)
After the new pope, Pope Paul XI, was elected, he quickly declared that the council would continue. The second session began on September 29, 1963 and ended on December 4, 1963. One of the main themes emphasized was to promote Christian unity (Stacpoole 27). Until Vatican II the Church was split into may different factions and each was set in its own belief that they were the 'one' true church. After the council however, compromises and cooperation began to develop between the many denominations toward building the Christian community as a whole. Official documents concerning the liturgy and social communication were adopted during this session.
The third session began on September 14, 1964 and ended on November 21, 1964 (Rynne 291). A select few religious and lay women were invited to this third session in order to incorporate different sections of the church. Ecumenism, Eastern Rite churches, and the constitution of the Church, missions, and ministries of priests were such topics discusses during this period. The fourth and last, period began on September 14, 1965 and ended on December 8, 1965 (Rynne 450). Issues considered during this period included
education, laity (distinguished people not of the clergy), bishops, and religious orders.
At the close of the council, the pope declared a jubilee, and asked Catholics to read and study the constitutions and decrees of the council and apply them to their spiritual lives. Changes occurred in various categories throughout the whole council. One of the more dramatic changes that occurred in the church, is the vernacular used during mass. Until Vatican II, the mass had been traditionally spoken in Latin, but afterwards was allowed to be spoken in the local language (Fesquet 41). Priests were now required to face the congregation, music was improved upon, and the cycle of the scripture readings was revised; making the mass a more communal environment by allowing all of the members to participate in the Church's prayer. It stated that Catholics should participate actively within the church services.
Changes regarding the Catholic views on Protestants occurred as well. Originally, Catholics believed that they were the only Christians who would receive salvation, but the council acknowledged the presence of the Holy Spirit in other church communities besides their own, and therefore declared them fellow brothers in Christ. Catholics are encouraged to interact, socialize with, and befriend their non-Catholic brothers in truth and love, since the purpose of any Christian society is to confess Christ before the world. Due to the ecumenical goal of the church doctrine, the placement of Mary's role within the church was debated over since Protestants objected to the honoring of Mary (The virgin mother of Christ) (Abbot 91). Eventually it was decided that Mary's place was within the church, and thus, they included her in the church constitution.
One of the doctrines states that the church is hierarchal, which verifies the essential roles of bishops and the pope. One chapter of the doctrines discussing holiness stands out because it declares that all people, not just persons with religious orders, are called to holiness and sanctity. This teaching had always been taught, but had been buried among the people. Vatican II was a turning point in the Catholic Church's history. Although changes were made to the outward church, no changes occurred within the theological teachings of the church.
Many issues were raised during the four consecutive periods of the council which would help to reform the Catholic Church into what it is today.
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