The Second Vatican Council

The Second Vatican Council

More than fifty years have passed since the opening of the Second Vatican Council, a pastoral Council; which, according to Pope John XXIII, had the concern, “that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.” The Council itself opened many doors and tried to present a renewed way of living the faith, it launched a call for holiness.

In its (dogmatic) constitutions, decrees and declarations, many important issues were treated;including the understanding of communion, collegiality, revelation, ecclesiology, Mariology, liturgy, the relation between the world and the Church, the role of the consecrated life, as well as the relation towards other religions. The joyful call voiced by the participants of the Council has not been easy to realize.

Soon after the end of the Council, a real struggle arose about the way to interpret the points proposed by the Council. The hermeneutic question became the key question for an authentic understanding. According to Pope Benedict XVI, the problems in its implementation arose from the fact that there were two contradictory hermeneutics which quarreled with each other. The hermeneutic of the so called “discontinuity and rupture”, has caused confusion, splitting the Church; the other “hermeneutic of reform” has brought many fruits. Therefore, the question of the right interpretation became one of the most important issues.

In its opening, this course offers an overview of the most important documents and goals of the Council. It throws light on the most essential topics, based on the letter of the documents themselves. The second part will be dedicated to the hermeneutic issue, the question of how to interpret and to value the different documents. Furthermore, it offers a perspective which can become the key for the new evangelization.

ECTS Credits: 3

Professor: Ralph Weimann