• In summary, Vatican II was a council called by
Pope John XXIII in the year 1959. It was
convened on October 11, 19622, and its
purpose was to be a spiritual renewal of the
church and reconsideration of the position of
the church in the modern world.
Why was Vatican II Called?
• John XXIII convoked the Vatican Council II as
the twenty-first worldwide council to renew
the life of the Church, reform structures and
institutions that needed updating, and to
discover new ways of spreading unity in the
• Pope John called the council but he lived for
only one of its four sessions.
• After years of preparation for the
Council, John only lived for about one year of
the actual meeting.
• After his death, Pope Paul VI reconvened the
council for the remaining three sessions
Documents of Vatican II
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), Nov. 21, 1964.
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), Nov. 18,1965.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (SacrosanctumConcilium), Dec. 4, 1963.
Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), Dec. 7, 1965.
Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office in the Church (Christus Dominus), Oct. 28, 1965.
Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity (Ad Gentes), Dec. 7, 1965.
Decree on Ecumenism (UnitatisRedintegratio), Nov. 21, 1964.
Decree on Eastern Catholic Church (OrientaliumEcclesiarum), Nov. 21, 1964.
Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (PresbyterorumOrdinis), Dec. 7, 1965.
Decree on Priestly Formation (OptatamTotius), Oct. 28, 1965.
Decree on the Appropriate Renewal of the Religious Life (PerfectaeCaritatis), Oct. 25, 1965.
Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (ApostolicamActuositatem), Nov. 18, 1965.
Decree on the Instruments of Social Communication (Inter Mirifica), Dec. 4, 1963.
Declaration on Religious Freedom (DignitatisHumanae), Dec. 7, 1965.
Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), Oct.
Declaration on Christian Education (GravissimumEducationis), Oct. 28, 1965.
occurred, such as the
priest now looking at
the congregation and
change to the language
questioned, but to this
day have not been
• Vatican II is most famous for the changes that
occurred in the church shortly after the
council occurred. Most notably, they aimed to
– Reforms to the liturgy
– Lay people to have closer participation
– Language / Particiaption
Conservative Catholics feel that after Vatican II, a change has occurred
that has resulted in less church-goers, less respect and ultimately the
church has separated from its roots.
• The church changed dramatically after Vatican
II, some people happy and some not. The fact
was that the church had remained the same
after hundreds of years, and it needed a
rejuvenation. Many parts of the mass
changed, however Vatican II reaffirmed the
beliefs the church had carried on through
• How many bishops participated in Vatican
– A total of 2,860 council fathers (world bishops)
participated in the Twenty-first Ecumenical Council of
the Catholic Church. Attendance at council meetings
varied from 2,000 to 2,500.
• How many documents were formed?
– A total of 16 documents were created, dealing with
spiritual renewal and reform in the Church, without in
any way changing the faith or morals of the Church.
Was Vatican II Necessary?
• As Pope John XXIII said,
– “For this a Council was not necessary. But from the
renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of
the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth
in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the
Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world
expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a
formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to
the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and
expounded through the methods of research and through the
literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient
doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in
which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be
taken into great consideration with patience if
necessary, everything being measured in the forms and
proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in
Lasting Effects of Vatican II
• Vatican II re-established what it meant to be a
church, emphasized the Eucharist as the
summit of the faith and changed the liturgy
into what it is today. Masses are changed and
still shaped by what was discussed and
changed during Vatican II, making the church
pretty much the exact same as it is today.
Good Relations with other faith
• Inviting many other faiths to sit in on Vatican II
really established good relations amongst many
– It reshaped the church’s relationship with other
Christians and other religions.
– At Vatican II, the church adopted a spirit of respect
and dialogue toward other faith traditions. Ensuing
dialogues have built bridges of understanding and
strengthened relationships with Orthodox
Christians, Jews, Muslims, Protestants and others.