The Second Vatican Council, better known as Vatican II, is widely considered the most important religious event of the 20th century.
The council was launched on October 11, 1962, when Pope John XXIII welcomed 2,400 bishops from 116 countries, hundreds of theologians and several Protestant and Orthodox observers to Rome. The historic four-year process opened previously unexamined avenues to other religions as well as to ethical, political and social issues, and set the church’s future direction.
Yet is it still relevant 50 years later? Unquestionably, says John W. O’Malley, S.J. (Society of Jesus), professor of theology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
O’Malley will examine the council’s continuing significance in his talk, called “Reform and Relevance: The Second Vatican Council at 50,” at Concordia on October 18. It is part of the Loyola Public Lecture Series on Ethics in Society.
“The council provided a recognition of modernity,” O’Malley says. “It was a big step.”
A main focus of the council was to instill a participatory style of church governance — a shared responsibility from the pope down to bishops, priests and laity. Vatican II is perhaps best known to non-Catholics for changing the church’s view of other, specifically Abrahamic, religions: Protestantism, Orthodox Chistianity, Judaism and Islam.
O’Malley adds that the council also encouraged the church “to become a promoter of human rights, religious liberty, dialogue and civility” and to recognize all religions, an attitude that has endured.
While O’Malley’s primary field of research is early 16th-century Italy, he was in Rome for his PhD dissertation work in the early 1960s, giving him a bird’s-eye view of events. “I’ve studied church reform during the 16th century, and also reform in the 20th century, so I bring a big historical perspective,” he says.
The Loyola Public Lecture Series on Ethics in Society was inaugurated in 2009 by the Jesuits in English Canada in collaboration with Concordia Univesity to recall and continue the Loyola College legacy of Jesuit higher education. This is the third Loyola Public Lecture.
What: “Reform and Relevance: The Second Vatican Council at 50,” part of the Loyola Public Lecture Series on Ethics in Society
When: October 18, 2012, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Salon O’Brien Family, RF 120.00, Loyola Jesuit Hall and Conference Centre, Loyola Campus (7141 Sherbrooke St. W.)
The following morning, October 19, from 10 a.m. to noon, O’Malley will lead a seminar on “The Hermeneutics of Vatican II: A Case Study in Interpreting Religious Texts” at the Newman Centre of McGill University.
• Reform and Relevance: The Second Vatican Council at 50
• The Loyola Public Lecture Series on Ethics in Society, 2010
• Loyola Public Lecture Series on Ethics in Society, 2009