Fifty years after the game-changing council a new generation helps the church respond to today’s signs of the times.
Rather than taking another nostalgic look back at the Second Vatican Council, the editors of U.S. Catholic decided to mark this month’s 50th anniversary of its opening by inviting some of today’s leading thinkers in the church to sketch out principles that might guide the people of God in responding to several new signs of the times.
In some of its most memorable key phrases, Vatican II managed to inspire a profound renewal of the church and its mission. Its liturgy constitution urged “full, conscious, active participation in the liturgy,” while other documents helped Catholics to see the church as a “sacrament of salvation” and emphasized “the right to religious freedom based on the very dignity of the human person,” the summons to “continual reformation,” and the existence of a “hierarchy of truths.” And the single most influential and most quoted passage of Vatican II remains the preface of the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes: “The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the [people] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.”
For this three-part series covering 12 contemporary challenges we asked contributors to speak to a particular joy, hope, grief, or anxiety of this age, hoping that their responses may resonate and inspire as much as Vatican II’s most memorable ideas continue to do.
Some of the signs of the times our contributors scrutinized have emerged only in the 50 years since Vatican II, while others have taken on greater importance or urgency during the past half-century.
Click below to read today’s thinkers on the signs of the times.
Image: Franklin McMahon (courtesy of the McMahon family)