In Portugal on Wednesday, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of the Second Vatican Council in bringing the Church into contact with the world. The foundation for Catholic renewal and a "civilization of love" were laid through it, he said.
Speaking with the cultural leaders of Portugal at the Cultural Center of Belem, in Lisbon, Pope Benedict emphasized the importance of the Church's role in keeping the search for truth alive in the world. He highlighted the need for Church and society to engage in respectful and unambiguous dialogue for the good of humankind.
Proposing a concrete example of the Church's attempts to enter into dialogue with the world, Pope Benedict referred to the Second Vatican Council, which he said, citing the words of Pope John XXIII, was convened "precisely so as 'to place the modern world in contact with the life-giving and perennial energies of the Gospel.'”
"There," he continued, "the Church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment."
He explained that it was through the Council that "the Church herself accepted and refashioned the best of the requirements of modernity by transcending them on the one hand, and on the other by avoiding their errors and dead ends."
The Second Vatican Council, which took place in four autumn sessions from 1962-1965 in Rome, was called by Pope John XXIII to examine the Church in the modern era and establish changes to meet the challenges presented by society.
The Holy Father closed his remarks on the council, saying, it "laid the foundation for an authentic Catholic renewal and for a new civilization - 'the civilization of love' - as an evangelical service to man and society."
To read the full speech Pope Benedict gave to cultural leaders, click here.