What Is and What Is Not the Theological Task of This Council?
POPE JOHN XXIII has in various ways given expression to his desire that there shall be no old-style doctrinaire schemata. If the theological preparatory commission had paid attention to these desires (and to the warnings given by many other people) it would not have found itself being repudiated by the Council and the Pope. It would do neither the Church nor the world any good simply to be lectured by the Council with repetitions of old doctrines. This was what the Pope said in his opening address: "The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church, which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and the ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all. For this a Council was not necessary."
But for what, then, was a Council necessary? The Council certainly has a practical task: practical adaptation, reform, renewal of the Church to meet the requirements of a new age. And this may well be its principal task. But has the Council a theological task as well? This question is so important that it requires us to make a résumé of what we have said elsewhere, so as to refer it briefly and explicitly to the future course of Vatican II. What, then, is the Council's theological task?