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Vatican II brought dramatic changes: Cardinal Danneels

Catholic World News - October 23, 2012

Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the retired Archbishop of Brussels, emphasized the unique approach of Vatican II during a lecture in London.

“Even though it is true that Vatican II is fully rooted in our Catholic tradition, it is equally true that it also launched a development and a deepening of that tradition, which here and there shows a discontinuity with past thinking and practices,” the Belgian cardinal said. He argued that Vatican II stands among the most important of all Church councils.

The fathers of Vatican II chose to speak to the world in a language quite different from that used by earlier councils, Cardinal Danneels said. Other councils, he said, issued statements in short, formal, and legalistic language—which he characterized as “threatening, punitive, and an intimidating experience.” The cardinal said: “Vatican II chose a different literary genre and a different language. There were no short position papers or judgments, no sharp formulations of belief and discipline, and very little normative language.”

Cardinal Danneels said that work must still be done to fulfill the pastoral vision of Vatican II. He spoke for example about the need for greater collegiality among the world’s bishops, saying that the meetings of the Synod of Bishops have failed to achieve that goal. The Synod meetings are useful, he said, but their deliberations actually “contribute little to the discussion.”

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 23, 2012 7:43 PM ET USA

    Throughout history the Church has employed great care in her pastoral ministry to the faithful with regard to "the world." It has been conceded that at least there has been an unusual optimism on the part of many Church leaders with regard to the Church's impact on the world, and in the expected cooperation for good. There is "discontinuity with past thinking" among many. The efficacy of this new thinking is difficult to demonstrate today based on statistics. Reflection is a good thing.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 23, 2012 5:32 PM ET USA

    And because there are no sharp definitions, Catholics have been going "bump in the night" trying to make sense of it all. In too many cases, they left the Church, thinking it wasn't worth the effort.

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