Cushing, Spellman, O'Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations

By James Rudin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
The Second Vatican Council:
Battleground and Breakthrough

The Council’s Beginnings

Many historians have called the Second Vatican Council the most important religious event of the twentieth century. Essentially, the council was a gathering of the world’s Catholic bishops, who met each autumn in Rome from 1962 from 1965. Many such councils have taken place over the centuries; this one was called a “Vatican Council” because its sessions were held in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

For many Catholics today, particularly progressive Catholics, the term “Vatican Council” serves as a handy catch-all to describe the sixteen long-needed reforms and new teachings — especially those relating to Jews and Judaism, ecumenism, religious liberty, education, and liturgy — that emerged from the council. For more theologically conservative Catholics, however, the Vatican Council is seen as a negative development. They view it as an unnecessary, unwarranted, and dangerous capitulation to the outside forces of modernity, religious pluralism, and spiritual relativism, and as an abandonment of several long-held positions, including the belief that there is no salvation outside the Church.

Because of the strong feelings surrounding the Second Vatican

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