Jesuit Father Ladislas Orsy served as an expert at the Second Vatican Council, which opened in 1962, but he admits, “I’m just beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the council.”
Fr. Orsy, a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., told an audience at a recent speech in Rome that while every ecumenical council in church history led to debate — and sometimes even schism — it has always taken more than 50 years for a council’s teachings and reforms to take root in the Christian community.
Fr. Orsy, 91, said he hoped to live a “few more years” so he could try to understand more about where the Holy Spirit is leading the church through the teachings of Vatican II and the continuing process of that teaching taking root in the lives of Catholics.
In his talk, Fr. Orsy looked particularly at “Dignitatis Humanae,” Vatican II’s declaration on human dignity and religious freedom.
Fr. Orsy, a canon lawyer, said the document, approved on the last day of the council, takes the visions of the church, the world and the human person expressed in the other Vatican II documents and applies them to “real-life situations.”
The document insists on “respect for the truth, but asserts that charity has its own priority, sometimes even above truth,” urging the church to model itself more closely after Christ, “who never imposed with any kind of violence the truth that he proclaimed,” said Fr. Orsy.
The council, he said, articulated a “fresh view of the human person” and affirmed that “by acknowledging the freedom of the human person, we honor a divine quality in the human person,” who was created in God’s image and likeness.
“The ultimate conclusion is not to enforce the truth, but to embrace the person,” Fr. Orsy said.
For more of Fr. Orsy’s reflections on Vatican II, read the full article at the National Catholic Reporter.