From the Editor
On the night of Oct. 11, 1962, the day the
Second Vatican Council began, Pope John XXIII appeared at his window in answer
to the chanting and singing below from a crowd estimated at a half million
people assembled in St. Peters Square.
As the late Peter Hebblethwaite recounted in his
book, John XXIII, Pope of the Council:
John appeared at his window and cried:
Dear children, dear children, I hear your voices. In the simplest
language, he told them about his hopes for the council. He pointed out that the
moon, up there, was observing the spectacle. My voice is an isolated
one, he said, but it echoes the voice of the whole world. Here, in
effect, the whole world is represented. He concluded: Now go back
home and give your little children a kiss -- tell them it is from Pope
John. One could almost touch the emotion. The patriarch gave
and generated love with all his being.
On that first night of the council, the battle
of ideas and of structures had already begun. Years of work and compromise,
countless words and conversations, endless wrangling over documents would both
produce and accompany a sea change in the church. However, for all of the lofty
words and exhaustive scholarship that went into the council, the historic
gathering was infused with the deep and stirring humanity of its
Consider the following special report on the
40th anniversary of Vatican II our attempt to continue to pass on some of the
affection that Pope John so easily radiated for all people.
A Vatican II Glossary
By PAT MORRISON
During the years of the council, many technical
church terms and Latin expressions found their way into everyday
parlance as newspapers reported on the workings of the council and pastors and
church leaders began explaining its workings. Here are a few of the most
frequently used terms:
Aggiornamento: Italian for
updating; used by Pope John XXIII to describe the churchs
need to renew and update itself through the Second Vatican Council.
Aula:Latin for hall,
during the Roman Empire the site of major academic and civic discussions;
during Vatican II the nave of St. Peters Basilica was known as the
aula, the place where the council deliberations were held.
universal, from the Greek oikoumene, the inhabited world.
Commonly used to identify the churchs general councils. In the movement
for Christian unity, the noun ecumenism has become synonymous with
striving for reunification among the Christian churches.
Motu proprio: Latin on his
own initiative. A papal document originating from the popes own
office. Many of the changes prescribed during the Second Vatican Council were
given practical application by this type of document.
People of God: Biblical term
popularized by Vatican II as an image of the church, and by extension the whole
human family. Based primarily on a text of Ezekiel (37:26-27): My
dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be
my people. The council gave the people of God image an entire chapter in
its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and placed it before the
chapter on the hierarchy to emphasize that the church is a community first,
with a hierarchical structure, not primarily a top-down structure with
individuals as subjects.
Peritus: Latin for
expert. During the Second Vatican Council many bishops brought
along their own periti in various disciplines, such as scripture, canon law or
theology, to help their understanding of a topic and decision
Schema: from the Greek, a diagram,
plan or outline. During the council, many of the schemas for the various
documents were, in effect, working drafts.
Sources: Encyclopedia of Catholicism,
edited by Fr. Richard McBrien; Pocket Catholic Dictionary, by Fr. John
A. Hardon, SJ; The Catholic Source Book by Fr. Peter Klein.