…what the world now knows as Vatican II began. For that reason, today is Blessed Pope John’s feast day.
Deacon Bill Ditewig looks back:
What the great Pope John brought to the world, and what the Council he called emphasized, was a “novus mentis habitus” — a “new way of thinking” — about the world and the Church. Pope John Paul II used to speak about this quite often in the early days of his own papacy: that the world and the church today demands a new way of thinking about how we relate to the people with whom we live and serve. Today, this message seems more needed than ever.
We read of church leaders who have decided that the richness of eating and drinking the Lord’s Body and Blood, commanded by our Lord, is best accomplished through a resurgent sacramental minimalism by consuming under the species of bread alone; we wonder why our young people (and, let’s be honest, some NOT so young people as well!) who are leaving active participation in a Church they honestly believe has lost its moral compass and any connectedness whatsoever to the real problems which today’s people face. Instead, they see institutional church leadership fussing about translations from a dead language into a living culture while whole peoples are victims of genocide, forced migrations, war and natural disasters. They know that individual Catholics and groups of Catholics are involved in trying to make things better, but the acknowledged leadership often seems completely out-of-touch and remote from those efforts.
It was this very detachment from the “real world” that Pope John and the Council attempted to address. In 1962, the world’s bishops had vivid memories of two world wars, worldwide economic collapse, the rise of three totalitarian regimes, the emergence of the nuclear age and the cold war. During the Council itself, the world was brought to the brink of another worldwide war during the Bay of Pigs debacle and the President of the US himself was assassinated. The bishops of the world, led by John himself, wanted to try to find a NEW WAY OF THINKING so that the world might be transformed into a different kind of place, so that such tragedies could not happen again.