Sep 22, 2022
What was the Second Vatican Council all about? With the 60th anniversary of the council’s opening now close at hand, you can still get an argument about that. Instead of consulting the “spirit” of Vatican II for an answer, my suggestion is that we take a look at the letter instead. And here surely the most reliable source is the man who convoked Vatican II, Pope St. John XXIII.
In his opening address to the bishops gathered in St. Peter’s, delivered October 11, 1962, Pope John stated the objective like this. “The Church must once more reaffirm that teaching authority of hers.” And lest there be any doubt: “That was our reason for calling this most authoritative assembly.”
Sixty years later, who can doubt that this admirable goal remains that--an admirable goal? And not the least reason is the continuing resistance of partisans of “the spirit of Vatican II” who prefer that the teaching of the Catholic Church be forever in flux.
People who think that way sometimes quote St. John Henry Newman’s famous saying, in the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, that “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” They ignore his dictum in the same work that a doctrinal development “to be faithful, must retain both the doctrine and the principle with which it started.”