On the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council

On the 50th  Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council

The Year of Faith and the Call to Renewal


Fabio Dipalma, assistant to Systematic Theology at the IUS, proposes a reflection, commenting on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the beginning of the Year of Faith.



"The choice of Benedict XVI to give way to the Year of Faith in the context of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held in Rome these few days, was not a casual one; and neither was the choice of starting it on October 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  In order to understand  «The New Evangelization for the Transmission of Christian Faith» – in the right perspective, a complex theme to which the Bishops are dedicating themselves -, it is necessary, in fact, to refocus our eyes on Vatican Council II, «true compass to help direct us in the century now beginning» – to use the words of John Paul II, revived by Benedict XVI a few days ago. 


Vatican II, will certainly not change a comma of the faith which the  Church has always professed along the centuries; but, putting each element in a new context, it views it from another angle.  Everything, then, appears in a new light.  The crisis which invested the Catholic Church internally after Vatican II, testifies, in the majority of cases, the difficult work of the ecclesial auto-conscience, at the service of which the various – and at times conflicting – sensibilities have revealed themselves to be useful and productive.  In fact, looking more closely at this crisis of humanity, as in many others, they are ultimately caused by the action of the Holy Spirit, who continuously recalls to renewal. 


In the Eucharistic celebration homily with which he wished to open the year of Faith, the Pope, looking at the spiritual ‘desertification’ advancing in these times, has given it a reading key according  to God’s view: «It is in starting from this very experience of the desert, of its emptiness, that we can discover anew the joy of believing, its vital importance for us men and women.  In the desert – affirmed Benedict XVI – we rediscover the value of that which is essential to living». 


The very evangelical narration, after all, shows us Jesus, who, having received John’s baptism,  leaves the river Jordan  «Guided by the Spirit into the desert, tempted by the devil, for fourty days» (Lc 4,1).  The desert and the emptiness: images used  to indicate  an experience of crisis, of disorientation, of privation, in which however, the conscience is refined for the task proper and the experience of the only necessary thing (cf. Lc 10,42) under the Spirit’s guidance.  It was so for Jesus, it is also so for the Church today.  


Only by passing through the same trials lived by Jesus makes participation to his mission possible: «proclaim freedom to the prisoners and sight to the blind», «free the oppressed» and «proclaim the year of grace of the Lord» (Lc 4,18-19). If the Second Vatican event has meant to put under the fire of the Spirit the identity and the forms of the Church, to keep safe and relaunch that which is essential, leaving behind that which is not without regrets, we must recognize that there are many challenges which await us yet in view of its full realization.


It means, then, to pick up again the commitment to reforming the Church and its mission in seriousness and calmness, in continuity with the Christian event, which the same Benedict XVI has clearly indicated as key to the reading of the Council.  Being fully part of our time, it means to show communally and ecclesially that the ‘good news’ does not mortify life, but rather, it exalts its beauty; and that Christian faith is still, today, a good and practicable possibility for existence, being freeing and humanizing.  Germ for building a renewed society. 


It is a task which Sophia University Institute feels to be its own, and to which it intends to give a specific contribution., using its own vital and intellectual energies."


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