In 1959, the newly-elected Pope John XXIII called for a second Vatican Council to reflect on the state of the Church and its place in the modern world. The ecumenical Council was composed of Catholic Bishops and theologians from around the world, while observers from the Orthodox and Protestant communions were invited to attend. The first session of the Council opened in 1963, and the fourth and final session concluded in 1965.
The Council’s four main goals were to:
- Reflect on and deepen its understanding of the mystery of the Church
- Strengthen and renew the Church spiritually, morally and theologically
- Open the way to reunion with separated Christians
- Engage with contemporary men and women about faith and the meaning of life
The Council Fathers responded with sixteen Council documents, including four constitutions, nine decrees and three declarations.
To summarise the second Vatican Council’s call:
- Christians are called to be holy and live holy lives as members of God’s household
- Christians are called to share their faith in Jesus Christ with others by word and example
The teachings and reforms of the Second Vatican Council continue to resonate in the Church into the third millennium.