The Second Vatican Council (Latin: ''Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum'', informally known as Vatican II) addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world.〔.〕 It was the twenty-first ecumenical council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. The council, through the Holy See, formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1965.
Several changes resulted from the council, including the renewal of consecrated life with a revised charism, ecumenical efforts towards dialogue with other religions, and the call to holiness for everyone including the laity, according to Pope Paul VI "the most characteristic and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council".〔(Motu Proprio ''Sanctitas clarior'' )〕
Its most important essential idea, according to Pope Benedict XVI, is "Paschal Mystery as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons".〔http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2013/february/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20130214_clero-roma.html〕 Other changes which followed the council included the widespread use of vernacular languages in the Mass instead of Latin, the subtle disuse of ornate clerical regalia, the revision of Eucharistic prayers, the abbreviation of the liturgical calendar, the freedom to celebrate the Mass ''versus populum'' (with the officiant facing the congregation), as well as ''ad orientem'' (facing the "East" and the Crucifix), and modern aesthetic changes encompassing contemporary Catholic liturgical music and artwork, many of which remain divisive among the Catholic faithful.〔Various feasts and devotional celebrations related to popular piety were revised or abbreviated as a result of the council. Examples of this are the revision of the novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help and the celebration of Friday of Sorrows in Lent.〕
Of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become pontiffs: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who on succeeding Pope John XXIII took the name of Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Father Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI.〔.〕〔.〕
== Background ==
In the 1950s, theological and Biblical studies in the Catholic Church had begun to sway away from the neo-scholasticism and biblical literalism which a reaction to Catholic modernism had enforced since the First Vatican Council. This shift could be seen in theologians such as Karl Rahner, SJ, Michael Herbert, and John Courtney Murray, SJ who looked to integrate modern human experience with church principles based on Jesus Christ, as well as others such as Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger and Henri de Lubac who looked to an accurate understanding of scripture and the early Church Fathers as a source of renewal (''ressourcement'').
At the same time, the world's bishops faced challenges driven by political, social, economic, and technological change. Some of these bishops sought new ways of addressing those challenges. The First Vatican Council had been held nearly a century before but had been cut short when the Italian Army entered the city of Rome at the end of Italian unification. As a result, only deliberations on the role of the Papacy and the congruent relationship of faith and reason were completed, with examination of pastoral issues concerning the direction of the Church left unaddressed.
Pope John XXIII, however, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958.〔.〕 This sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and largely positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church,〔.〕 and the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution ''Humanae Salutis'' on 25 December 1961.〔(【引用サイトリンク】 Vatican II: 40 years later )〕 In various discussions before the Council actually convened, Pope John XXIII often said that it was time to open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.〔.〕 He invited other Christians outside the Catholic Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Eastern Orthodox and Protestant denominations as internal observers but the observers did not cast votes in the approbation of the conciliar documents.〔.〕
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