Fr John W. O’Malley, in my opinion, is, hands down, the best source for the history and meaning of Vatican II. If you have not read his What happened at Vatican II, I highly recommend it. This article does a good job of countering the remarks from the traditionalist camp of the Church who say that Vatican II was “only a pastoral council” and therefore they do not have to follow its teachings. I like to point out to them that they can no longer accuse others of being “Cafeteria Catholics” and welcome them to the club….reyanna
By John W. O’Malley S.J. June 18-15 issue America Magazine on-line
From the moment the Second Vatican Council opened, it has consistently been described as a pastoral council, sometimes so insistently and unthinkingly that the expression has become a cliché. The word cliché implies that while the description might well express a truth, it at the same time trivializes the council and produces yawns.
The basis for describing the council as pastoral is unassailable. On the day the council opened, Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII characterized it as such. In his address that day, “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia,” he told the assembled prelates that the council was to be “predominantly pastoral in character.” The prelates heard the message. From that point forward, speaker after speaker at the council, especially those from the so-called majority, insisted on the council’s pastoral character, implicitly contrasting it with a doctrinal council, which presumably was more serious.
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