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Catholic World News News Feature

Keep alive the spirit of Vatican II, Pope urges October 31, 2005

Pope Benedict XVI extolled the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and encouraged the faithful to maintain the spirit of the Council, during his Sunday public audience on October 30.

Appearing from the window of his apartment in the apostolic palace to lead the recitation of the Angelus, the Pope recalled that the final sessions of Vatican II, and the approval of many of the Council's most important documents, came 40 years ago. (The 7th session of the Council convened on October 28, 1965; Pope Paul VI closed the Council on December 8 of that year.) These documents, he said, "deserve to be recalled, because they maintain their value and their contemporary significance has, if anything increased."

Addressing the large crowd that had gathered in sun-drenched St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father called particular attention to five of the documents released late in 1965: Christus Dominus, on the office of bishops; Perfectae Caritatis, on the renewal of religious life; Optatam Totius, on priestly training; Gravissimum dducationis, on Christian education; and Nostra Aetate, on relations with non-Christian religions. Nostra Aetate in particular remains important today, the Pope said, because it underlines the Church's mission to "promoting unity and love among men." In that document, he said, the Council affirms "the special link binding Christians and Jews," and proclaims the Church's "esteem for Muslims and followers of other religions." The document, he said, "prohibits discrimination or any kind of religious persecution." Gravissiumum Educationis is less well known today, the Pope continued, but has "an extreme importance" as education becomes increasingly essential for human advancement. The Council called for "an educational system that recognizes the primacy of the human person, open to truth and goodness," he said. He also recalled the Vatican II affirmation that "the principal educators are parents-- helped, according to the principle of subsidiarity, by civil society." The Pope concluded his discussion of the topic by urging the faithful to acquaint themselves with the Council documents, and "always keep alive the true, authentic spirit of Vatican II."

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