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Dec. 8 marks 50 years since closing of Vatican II — 2 SLU professors share significance

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Pope Paul VI presiding over the introductory ingress of the council, flanked by Camerlengo Benedetto Aloisi Masella and two Papal gentlemen.

Dec. 8 will mark the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. At the time, the council was a groundbreaking move as an assembly of Roman Catholic religious leaders had not met for nearly 100 years. What would happen during the council was even more groundbreaking.

Credit Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Randy Rosenberg and Kenneth Parker.

“It marked a turning point in the life of the Catholic church in many respects,”  Kenneth Parker told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. “Pope John XXIII was anxious to see the Church create a different outlook on the world. He talked about opening the windows and doors of the Church to let fresh air in and for the church to look out. In that sense, it marked not a change in the core values and beliefs but it marked a change in the way the church approached the world.”

Parker is the Steber Professor in Theological Studies at Saint Louis University,

From 1962 to 1965, over 2,000 bishops and many thousands of laypeople convened at St. Peter’s Basilica to reconsider the practices of the Catholic Church. What came out of those meeting were fundamental changes to church doctrine that define the church today — particularly how the church relates to non-Catholics and non-Christians.

Parker said that the Vatican II was Pope John XXIII’s “love letter to the world” and that “he realized that in order for the Church to be relevant, it had to speak a different language.”

On Monday’s “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh spoke with Parker as well as Randy Rosenberg, an assistant professor of Theological Studies at Saint Louis University, about the significance of Vatican II and what Saint Louis University is doing to mark the occasion.

Here are four big changes that Vatican II brought to the Catholic Church, according to Parker and Rosenberg:

  1. "Gaudium et Spes,” a document that reframed the Church’s relationship to the modern world.
  2. "Nostra Aetate,” a doctrine that changed the way the Catholic Church approached Judaism and non-Christian religions
  3. “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” a doctrine that changed the Catholic liturgy from Latin to the vernacular
  4. "Dignitatis Humanae," or Declaration on Religious Freedom, which spelled out that the Church’s support of religious liberty and stance on pluralistic societies, such as the United States.

Saint Louis University will host the sixth annual Newman Convocation, “Celebrating the Achievements of the Second Vatican Council,” on Tuesday, Dec. 8. More information is available here.    

"St. Louis on the Air" discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation at @STLonAir.

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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