Holy Spirit Interactive
Saturday, December 16, 2017
Inside Holy Spirit Interactive

Holy Spirit Interactive: Discover the Church: Vatican II - Reintroducing the People of God

Some chain reactions


The concepts of the People of God, Subsidiarity, and Pluralism affected all sections of the Church. For example:

The Roman Curia. The Roman Curia is the centralised system of justice and administration, made up of Congregations, Tribunals, and Offices. They have always been very powerful, and there was a fear that the Church was in effect governed by the Curia. Collegiality changed its role. After Vatican II the Church was to be governed by the Pope and Bishops.

Local Collegiality. In the same way as the universal Church was to be governed by the Pope and the Bishops acting as a college, the local Church was to be organised by the Bishops’ Conference. This means that in certain matters, the bishops of the dioceses of a nation or area influence the running of one another’s dioceses by means of local synods and common policy decisions on topics like Education, Justice and Peace issues, etc. Some responsibilities which had been reserved to the Roman Curia were given over to the local Bishops’ Conference – certain marriage cases, liturgical arrangements, ścumenical arrangements, etc.

Hierarchy-Laity relationships. The role of the laity derives from their baptism, which they share as equals with their brothers in the hierarchy (30). So national Church councils have lay members, contributing to the development of the Church.

Liturgy. It was in the field of liturgy that most changes were apparent for the majority of Catholics: Mass facing the people and in a language they could understand; the Sign of Peace, Bidding Prayers, Communion under both kinds.

Ecumenism. The Constitution on the Church had clear implications for the ścumenical movement. Paragraph 8 declares that the Church of Christ “subsists” in the Catholic Church, but this is a recognition of the existence and value of other Christian communities. Moreover, non-Catholic Churches could look more comfortably at the Catholic Church after Vatican II as it re-emphasised a collegial form of government, subsidiarity, and local adaptation. A large number of inter-Church dialogues resulted.

The Growth of Pluralism

Liturgical Pluralism. There were many positive advantages of a single way of saying Mass in a single language. However, with the Constitution on the Liturgy there came a new priority: active participation by the laity. This called for different languages, adaptation to local needs and culture.

Theological Pluralism. With the Council, Pope John XXIII had “opened the windows of the Church” to involve the wider Church, and, indeed, everybody of good will who wanted to join the Church’s search for a better understanding of its life of faith. Catholic theology is now able to draw on the insights and researches of non-Catholic and even non-Christian theologians. In particular, Catholic Scripture scholars suddenly found themselves allowed to take part in the modern critical study of the Bible.

Next: Conclusion