Posts Tagged ‘Second Vatican Council’
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.
Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and Jesuit Father John W. O’Malley, a historian, theologian and professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., gave his thoughts on the legacy of Vatican II in both an interview with the Vatican Insider and an op-ed piece in The New York Times.
Fr. O’Malley says that one of the council’s legacies is that it gave the church “a new role as reconciler in a world torn apart by hatred and threats of violence.”
Reconciliation was one of the great themes running through the council, according to Fr. O’Malley. “The document of the liturgy, for instance, promoted a reconciliation of the church with non-Western cultures by inviting symbols and rituals from those cultures into the liturgy itself. The church thus distanced itself from the Western ‘cultural imperialism’ that affected even Catholic missionaries,” he says.
“Related to that reconciliation but perhaps even more pertinent for today’s world, was the reconciliation with Jews and Muslims, as expressed in the document Nostra Aetate. This meant putting behind us a tradition of belittling and denigrating those faiths, a tradition that had contributed to the horror of the Holocaust,” says Fr. O’Malley. “Pope John Paul II set a marvelous example by his many meetings with Jewish groups, as it is well known. Less well known, but in today’s tense international situation even more important, were his many meetings with Muslims.”
Fr. O’Malley says that Vatican II has already passed from experience and memory to history. Future generations, he says, “will experience what the council did not as a change but as ‘the way things are’ and maybe assume that is the way things have always been.”
In his op-ed piece, Fr. O’Malley concludes: “The post-Vatican II church was not a different church. But if you take the long view, it seems to me incontestable that the turn was big, even if failures in implementation have made it less big in certain areas than the council intended.”