Pope's Homily: 50th Anniversary of Vatican II Calls for a Return to the Texts Within a Hermeneutic of Continuity
The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient
"This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the "letter" of the Council - that is to its texts - also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity." (Pope Benedict XVI)
Bishops processing in St. Peters Square on the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II and the Opening Mass of the Year of Faith
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The importance of the fact that the commemoration of the last Council of the Church, the launching of the Year of faith and the implementation of the global plan for the New Evangelization all happened simultaneously cannot be overstated. Pope Benedict XVI gave the homily set forth in its entirety below on Thursday, October 11, 2012. It contains some vital insights into the connection to which I refer.
Given its importance, we have decided to publish the homily it in its entirety for our readers around the globe. We invite you to prayerfully read the words of the successor of the Apostle peter. Clearly, this homily and its insights will guide the continuing Synod of Bishops in its important deliberations and decisions. We are living in an historic moment in Church history. I have often expressed my conviction that it is a "New Missionary Age".
The Holy Father's homily contained significant material for reflection, prayer and pastoral action as the Church considers the true meaning of the Documents of the Second Vatican Council and their proper interpretation and implementation. I also strongly commend to our readers an outstanding article written by George Weigel entitled "Vatican II, 50 Years Later" published on National Review on Line.
Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear brothers and sisters!
Today, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith. I am delighted to greet all of you, particularly His Holiness Bartholomaois I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.
A special greeting goes to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences. In order to evoke the Council, which some present had the grace to experience for themselves - and I greet them with particular affection - this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing.
These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And it's true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church's pilgrimage along the pathways of history.
The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church's whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Savior, yesterday, today and forever.
Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and profound convergence, precisely upon Christ as the center of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the center of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is "the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith" (12:2).
Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense.
The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ ...
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