Roman Catholicism after Vatican II

Roman Catholicism after Vatican II

Roman Catholicism after Vatican II

Roman Catholicism after Vatican II

Excerpt

The Second Vatican Council ended in December 1965. The decrees of the council inaugurated a process that is far from complete. The Catholic Church is presently in a continuing state of reformation. Many questions are still debated, perhaps the most important being the question of authority. The centralization of power in Rome and the lack of collegiality at all levels continue to irritate many Catholics. This is especially true because Vatican II favored the sharing of authority and also taught the principle of subsidiarity, which maintains that nothing should be done by a larger and higher institution that can be done equally well by a smaller and lower institution. Part of the problem is that never before in the history of Catholicism have so many and such sudden changes been introduced in the life of the Church, often without adequate explanation, at least at the local level. A further difficulty results from the general nature of the council's documents, which leaves them open to conflicting interpretations.

Vatican II was a unique council. In fact, it can be argued that it was the first truly global council, including many indigenous representatives of six continents. The previous 20 councils were much more provincial in style and content, whether they were held in Asia Minor (the first eight councils) or in Europe (the last 12 councils). Also, until the council of Trent (1545–1563) the deliberations and decisions of the councils were solely the private concern of the bishops in attendance, at least while the councils were in session. With the invention of the printing press, Trent and especially Vatican I (1870) were subjected to more rapid diffusion of information by the media. But never in history did an ecumenical council have the same kind of intensive scrutiny as did Vatican II, when there was massive coverage by the print media as well as by radio and television.

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