Essay: Vatican Council

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Ecumenical Council Agenda for the Future

Catholic Ecumenical Councils have been the method since the time of Roman Emperor Constantine to adjust the Catholic Church's policies and canon law to reflect the times in which the faithful live without compromising core Church values. At a real level, the author of this essay believes that the study of this is much like the study of war. It is said that the generals are always fighting the last war. In many ways, Catholics are always planning the last ecumenical council. This is very understandable considering that we value the traditions and look back in history to the rich history of Church Canon Law and tradition. However, we do not live in the time of John the 23rd. The world has changed radically since the era of the 1960's. While very precious, pragmatically we need to look at Vatican Two's successes and failures. Certainly, it opened new vistas for the church in terms of ecumenical outreach and opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus with people who never would have heard it otherwise. However ultraconservatives such as Cardinal Marcel Lefebvre initiated a schism that alienated many of the Churches most ardent supporters. They could not deal with many of the reforms, including the adoption of the vernacular in the Church, relegating the Tridentine Rite to an optional status (Stenhouse).

So, our trick so to speak in this hypothetical agenda for a future Church ecumenical council would be to balance the needs of conservatives and liberals. The model would be the 1891 Encyclical Rerum Novarum that was issued by Pope Leo 13th. In this encyclical, subtitled On Capital and Labor, Leo endeavored to set down the Catholic Church's response to labor issues and social instability that had cropped up in the backwash of industrialization and that led to socialism's rise. What the pope did was to reaffirm the Church's value on human rights and morality, surely a progressive declaration (Leo 13th).

Firstly, this author would posit that a future Pope would set down an agenda in a papal encyclical that would guide the council and provide guidance. It would also expand upon and build upon Vatican II, which has done this to some extent, but issues still remain. This would include opportunities for women and the laity to be involved in the decision making and leadership at all levels of the Church. With regard to the sex scandal of priests, many of the reforms are being spearheaded by the Catholic laity, in particular women and laity in bringing justice to those who have been wronged. A practical basis would be to build upon the 2002 Bishop's Committee on Women in Society and in the Church's project to explore the relationship between women's spirituality and their occupations outside of the home. As a part of the process, they first invited… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Vatican Council.  (2010, April 20).  Retrieved September 17, 2019, from

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"Vatican Council."  20 April 2010.  Web.  17 September 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Vatican Council."  April 20, 2010.  Accessed September 17, 2019.