The revolutionary Spirit of Vatican II-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Thursday, September 6, 2012
NEXT year, the Catholic Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
In 1963, Pope John XXIII called cardinals, bishops and prominent theologians from all over the world together in Rome for the Second Vatican Council. The Council lasted for more than two years.
At the opening of the Council, the Pope said: “We must open the windows of the Church so that fresh air can come in from the outside world. The Church had become an institution. The air inside that institution had become stale.”
The Council members produced the famous document, which is called “The Church in the modern world.”
Our present Pope Benedict XVI wrote recently in an article entitled “Fifty years after the Council:” “The Church is not so much an institution but as the body of Christ, it is a living organism that goes through stages and that demands ‘reforms’ which should always lead the hierarchy and the People of God to a renewed faith in the Gospel and their Lord.”
The Vatican Council triggered off a so much needed renewal within the Church. One aspect of this renewal concerns the laity in the Church, an awareness among the lay people that they are a vital part of the Church.
Today, there is a strong lay movement going on in the Church. This movement says: “We are the Church.” With “We” is meant all the baptized Christians and that include the Pope, the bishops, the priests and all the lay people of the Church. There is no distinction here, they are all equal members of the same Church, the People of God.
This is one of the revolutionary changes that took place in the Church since the Vatican II Council. It is like a second Pentecost, the Spirit of Pentecost that blew throughout the early Christian community.
The same Spirit is blowing in the lay movement today. This change is taking place in the Church all over the world, where the lay movement is alive. The Philippine Church has expressed what this change means concretely for the Philippines.
During the Second Plenary Council (PCP II) in 1991, it stated: “The Philippine Church is the Church of the Poor.”
The Church is the body of Christ. Christ is Jesus of Nazareth who was sent by the Father to become flesh in this world. That is the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ was born a poor and helpless child, the son of a carpenter. Jesus identified himself with the poor. The Church that He founded is to be a Church of the Poor.
In the modern world, we have discovered that there is a big gap between the rich and the poor. On global level, there is the developed world, the so called First World and there is the underdeveloped world, the Third World. The only way that this gap can be bridged is through solidarity. As Christians, the rich are called to show their solidarity with the poor. On a global level, the First World must show solidarity with the Third World. On a national level, in the Philippines, the rich and the elite must show their solidarity with the poor and the downtrodden. That is the revolutionary change that should take place in our country today.
That is what Jesse Robredo as mayor of Naga City and as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government has put into practice in an heroic way. If the Philippines is the only Christian nation in Asia, we have to make this come true. The Philippine Church must become the Church of the Poor. (To be continued)
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 06, 2012.