Vatican Council, Second, widely called Vatican II, 1962–65, the 21st ecumenical of the Roman Catholic Church, organized by Pope John XXIII and continued under Paul VI. Its announced idea was a spiritual renewal of the church and reassessment of the position of the church in the modern world. The most amazing innovation of the council, which convened Oct. 11, 1962, was the incitement extended to Protestant and Orthodox Eastern churches to send observers; the meetings were attended by representatives from many of those churches. Another clear feature was the multiplicity of national and cultural origins shown among those who attended from all over the world.
One of the announced aims of the conference was to judge reform of the liturgy, mainly to bring the layman into closer contribution in the church services and therefore to cheer some diversity in language and practice. Great stress was also laid from the beginning upon the pastoral responsibility of the bishops, as famous from administrative duties. The procedure at the conference accorded with democratic practice, and there was a vigorous debate between the “progressive” and “conservative” groups. By the time of its adjournment, the council had delivered four constitutions, nine decrees, and three declarations. The nature of these statements was appealing, avoiding rigid definitions and accusing anathemas. This paper examines the reaction to the Second Vatican Councils, in periodicals and religious observations.
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