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Vatican II : The Theology of Vatican II

This guide supports research and reading on Vatican II.

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Mary Linden Sepulveda

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Mary Sepulveda

Coordinator of Collection Development, Special Collections & Archives

Pope John XIII

Pope John XXIII was elected on the 28th of  October 1958. He called the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) but did not live to see it to completion. He died in 1963  only four-and-a-half years after his election.

Pope Paul VI

Paul VI decided to continue Vatican II (canon law dictates that a council is suspended at the death of a pope), and brought it to completion in 1965. Faced with conflicting interpretations and controversies, he directed the implementation of its reform goals, which included the largest revision to the Church's Liturgy ever—and the first major revision since the Council of Trent held 400 years prior to Vatican II. Pope Paul VI died in 1978.

Papal Infallability

Lumen Gentium

The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which was also a document on the Church itself, explicitly reaffirmed the definition of papal infallibility, so as to avoid any doubts, expressing this in the following words:

"This Sacred Council, following closely in the footsteps of the First Vatican Council, with that Council teaches and declares that Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, established His holy Church, having sent forth the apostles as He Himself had been sent by the Father;(136) and He willed that their successors, namely the bishops, should be shepherds in His Church even to the consummation of the world. And in order that the episcopate itself might be one and undivided, He placed Blessed Peter over the other apostles, and instituted in him a permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion. And all this teaching about the institution, the perpetuity, the meaning and reason for the sacred primacy of the Roman Pontiff and of his infallible magisterium, this Sacred Council again proposes to be firmly believed by all the faithful."

The Cathechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church spells out the infallibility of an ecumenical council:

"The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of the faithful - who confirms his brethren in the Faith - he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to Faith or morals.... The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an ecumenical council. (Item 891)

Consequently, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are the official teachings of the Church.


History of the Council

The Second Vatican Council: "The beginning of a beginning...."  Karl Rahner

Good Websites

Sessions reported by Francis X. Murphy / aka Xavier Rynne (pseud.)

Father Francis X. Murphy (1915–2002) was a Redoemptorist chaplain and theology professor. He is most known for his articles about the Second Vatican Council published under the pseudonym Xavier Rynne