At anniversary Mass, pope recalls ‘authentic spirit’ of Vatican II
Marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the start of a special Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholics to revive the “authentic spirit” of Vatican II by re-proposing the church’s ancient teachings to an increasingly Godless modern world.
The pope spoke at a special Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 11, half a century to the day after the opening ceremonies of Vatican II. About 400 bishops from around the world, including 15 of the 70 surviving members of the 1962-65 council, attended. Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury attended as special guests.
The observances featured ceremonies recalling milestones of Vatican II, including the enthronement of a book of the Gospels used at the original gathering and a re-presentation of the council’s final “messages” to various categories of lay Catholics, such as artists, workers and women.
Vatican II, Pope Benedict said, had been “animated by a desire … to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man.”
He noted that Blessed John XXIII, in his speech at the opening of the council, called for both the safeguarding and the effective teaching of the “sacred deposit of Christian doctrine … this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, (and) needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs our time.”
“The council fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way,” the pope said, “and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood.”
One of the council fathers, retired Bishop William J. McNaughton of Inchon, Korea, traveled to the anniversary Mass from his home in Methuen, Mass. Speaking recently to Catholic News Service, he recalled the procession of more than 2,200 bishops into St. Peter’s Basilica on the council’s first day.
“Because television cameras from all over the world were taking pictures, all the lights were on in the basilica,” said Bishop McNaughton, 85. “I thought I was at the gate of heaven.”
The commemoration was less spectacular and less well-attended than the 1962 event. [More]