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Cardinal Cottier assesses legacy of Vatican II

July 11, 2012

Cardinal Georges Cottier, who served as theologian of the pontifical household from 1989 to 2005, assessed the legacy of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the fiftieth anniversary of its opening approaches.

The prelate, now 90, served as a peritus at the Council.

“I would say that much has been done,” he said in an interview. “For example, the structure of episcopal conferences; the way some of them function now; or the dicasteries of the Church which didn’t exist before, Christian union, dialogue with non-believers--all these are new things which often function well. Also those areas that regard justice and peace--these things didn’t exist before the Council, as well as concern for dialogue with the world, the idea itself of the New Evangelization was born with the Council. Also the Synod of Bishops and the doctrine itself of the last Popes, which have as their no. 1 program the implementation of the Council.”

Asked why “there are still people who resist,” the Swiss Dominican replied:

I believe that, basically, there must be an act of faith in the Church. The great crisis that appeared after the Council in many Catholics, was that they did not regard the Church as a mystery of faith, as body of Christ, people of God, bride of Christ – all these beautiful images -- but as a sociological event. So, why does this happen? Because some are mistaken in the idea. Hence it is that the first need consists in having eyes of faith on the Church, as well as a serious study of the Council, because I don’t know if the documents have been sufficiently studied to be accepted.

Having said this, it’s true that in my generation, more than in young generations, there are persons with nostalgia for what they have lived in the past. However, in regard to this, one must be able to give some things up.

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 11, 2012 11:02 PM ET USA

    More curious quotes. Again, excerpts but nonetheless curious... "Also those areas that regard justice and peace--these things didn’t exist before the Council..." No effort for justice and peace pre-VII? "However, in regard to this, one must be able to give some things up." Hmmm... Among unrelated comments by Pope Benedict: "...but every part of our Faith is only really intelligible in the light of the whole." Amen! The Holy Father to the rescue in providing context to aid our perspective.