I was a student in Rome during Vatican II and excited by all that was happening ~ following the debates, attending the great occasions and sharing a new appreciation of the mission of the Church. I must share that with the people, I thought. How can they know unless someone tells them, someone like me who was there.
This week I have written a book which summarises the sixteen documents of Vatican II. I started on Monday morning, finished on Thursday afternoon, and enjoyed the challenge. ‘Documents of Vatican II’ will be published by the Watermead Apostolate, joining the series of ‘Pathways’ already available. The book is complete in itself but would make a good guide for anyone wishing to read the full original documents.
The excitement of those days flowed for me again as I was reading and writing. I revisited the press conferences, heard the issues debated in lectures at the Lateran University and remembered some of the outstanding visitors to our college of St John at Porta Latina.
You will like the book, based on my appreciation of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI. You will read much that is familiar and discover that you have been thinking Vatican II as part of your understanding of the Catholic faith. You will be saddened by the spiritual antagonism you will become aware of and have to accept the stubbornness of men who want to win an argument rather than discover together understanding of the truth. The human element in the Church can shock – pride, control, exclusion, and can dominate debates. I still react strongly to Piolanti, Parente, Ottaviani, Bea, Martini, Suenens, Lambruschini and a number of others and their importance and self-importance. The Council Fathers invoked the Holy Spirit in obligatory prayer then cut and thrust in debate, determined to defeat the other side. The documents read comfortably but the peace on the pages was not in the minds and hearts of those debating.
A slumbering giant of evil lay beneath those debates: corruption in Church authority and the horror of abuse of children and women.
We all know now. At the Vatican Council many knew a little which, we discovered, they dutifully hid to avoid scandal. We shouldn’t hide scandal, we should share truth – the Gospel of Jesus is truth, light and life.
God bless us on Fathers’ Day and always,
(18th June 2023)