Yesterday was the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church. Opened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed in 1965 by Pope Paul VI, it marked arguably the most significant movement in the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century.
As a Protestant, Vatican II has had an indirect impact on me. It allowed the Roman Catholic Church to open serious dialogues with other Christians, such as the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue in the United States, the longest running bi-lateral Christian dialogue in the world. For the first time, the Roman Catholic Church was willing to consider the possibility that Christians not with Rome were real Christians. This was a huge milestone in Christian ecumenical relationships.
Vatican II updated Roman Catholic liturgy, reasserted the church’s role in social justice, and further clarified the Roman stance towards non-Christian religions. It opened the Roman Catholic church to the changing world around it and in many ways set a model to follow for other Christians.
The spirit of Vatican II still lives today, though with not as much enthusiasm as it once did. I’m not Roman Catholic, but I still recognize it’s importance in the Christian world. So here’s to another 50 years of the Vatican II spirit.