Introducing “Conciliaria”

This is truly something remarkable — and well worth a visit.

My brother deacon Eric Stoltz from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has created and designed a beautifully executed new website devoted entirely to marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.  Titled “Conciliaria,” the new site is a treasure trove of history, theology, journalism and trivia, with each entry marking a milestone in the council.

As the site explains:

Welcome to Conciliaria, where you can relive the moving and hope-filled days of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Council, we offer day-to-day coverage, utilizing archival reporting from that time, contemporary documents and special guest correspondents who will step into a time machine to report on the dramatic events as though they were there 50 years ago.

Our content partners include some of the most respected Catholic publications in the world: archival content from America, the national Catholic weekly founded by the Jesuits in 1909 and excerpts from the Council Daybook, published by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the predecessor organization to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. On Conciliaria you will also find documents which are difficult to find in English translation—or that are translated here for the first time. Reference sources include the most authoritative histories, memoirs and journals with a record of accurate information about the Council. Our guest correspondents are prominent writers, some with best-selling books, who will go back 50 years ago to report on events while confining their analysis to what was known then.

It’s also available for mobile devices. 

This should be a required destination for anyone who wants to understand more about what the Second Vatican Council undertook, and what it achieved — which means it should be of interest to any modern Catholic. 

Curious?  Go, visit, browse, and come away wanting to know more.  You won’t be disappointed.  Kudos to Eric for undertaking this enterprise, and pulling it off with so much intelligence and good taste.   I’m in awe. 

Visit Conciliaria here. 


  1. Many years ago, I found out that the Archives of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had all of Archbishop Karl J. Alter’s papers on his work for Vatican II. I applied for and was allowed access for about three hours to these files — not long enough to get anything really formulated but long enough to begin to appreciate his work, which was — in fact — performed in two separate eras of the Council..

    As one of the most senior archbishops in the US in the 50′s and early 60′s, he was part of the original Preparation Committee which wound up establishing the original agenda (the one John XXIII permitted to be thrown out). That original agenda was created via a series of position papers printed in Latin in a booklet sized format (similar in size to a common Missalette of today). I scanned through all of them and only found notes written by the Archbishop on maybe a dozen pages — and yes — those were handwritten in Latin. It appears to me that the common committee members were never really part of formulating any of the original agenda — they could only comment on what was already formulated by the committee’s chair.

    Later in the Council, however, he became a very active committee member on the team that put together “Christus Dominus — The Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops.” His notes on those genuine work-sheets are extensive and for several sections of that final document, revisions went through at least three cycles before consensus was found.

    One thought which remains is that if any scholar was working on a doctorate about Vatican II, the files there in Cincinnati would be absolutely invaluable primary sources. I have also found out that the primary notes of the various bishops who attended from Detroit are located in the Library at Notre Dame University in Indiana.

  2. ron chandonia says:

    Deacon Greg, thanks so much for the link to this site. I’ll be using it extensively this year because I’ve just started teaching a class on Vatican II in our formation program. This looks like a splendid new resource! (And what a blessed relief from the HHS mandate . . . )

  3. I’m thrilled to see this. I was a junior at a Catholic high school in Chicago when Vatican Council II commenced. Our religion classes spent time following and discussing the proceedings. The Catholic New World archdiocesan newspaper was very informative about what was going on in Rome. It was an exciting time.

  4. This looks amazing! I am really glad to see this and look forward to exploring the site. Eric has so many talents and so much spirit.

  5. Oh Lord, no more lopsided glorification of Vatican II, please. Its “springtime” still isn’t apparent.

    I can almost guarantee that this site will only talk about Vatican II, will ignore Vatican I, and every other one of the Church’s other 20 councils.

  6. Kevin,

    Yes, the site was created to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, so it will be about Vatican II. It will refer to other councils when appropriate, such as for background at and when other councils are referred to in documents or reports, such as when John XXIII set the date of the Council ( ). It is, however, about Vatican II specifically and not about ecumenical councils generally, although that would certainly be a worthwhile project for someone to undertake.

    The 150th anniversary of Vatican I will be in 2020. You could certainly start working now on an appropriate commemoration for then!

  7. Fiergenholt says:


    Can I back-up Deacon Eric here? There is a serious need to do something similar on Vatican I. A lot of inaccuracies, hype and legend has surfaced about the events and people of Vatican I and we need some really solid research on that whole scene to bring some clarity to it all.

    For instance, here are three controversial areas that scholars of Church History still argue about when discussing Vatican I. Maybe your research can bring some clarity to all that.

    –Blessed Pius IX was either the holiest man who even walked the earth or a power-hungry tyrant who wanted nothing more than to bring all of Europe (and America) under his personal will and authority.

    –The Decree on Papal Infallibility was really a compromise between those who firmly believed that “papal infallibility” was “invented dogma” and those who firmly supported “Pio No-No!” in his quest for political power.

    –Vatican I closed because war had broken out in Europe and if the delegates did not act quickly, they would never be able to get back home. Thus, according to some, Vatican I ended because of the will of secular leaders who wanted nothing to do with a Council that was trying to curtail their political base and subjugate every secular leader under the three-layered Tiara.

  8. This website on Vatican II is a gift. Thanks, deacons Greg Kandra and Eric Stoltz.

    Over the years I have given presentations on Vatican and have always incorporated a good deal of time on Vatican II in the Church History course that I taught in the Lay Ministry Program in the diocese. This year I am redoubling my efforts to increase my knowledge about what went on.

    My interest is also personal. My uncle attended all four sessions and I have letters that he sent home. One says: ““I have had a few experiences in my life but nothing compares to this. Day by day it grows on you just what you are participating in. Everywhere you turn you hear different languages. If the church isn’t universal, they need a new definition of the word. My Italian and French has been a god-send even though my French isn’t so good as the Italian. The bishop on my right is French, co-adjutor of Verdun, and we manage to get along. He knows no English.”

    I looked up the name of the bishop. It is Bishop Pierre-Francis-Lucien-Anatole Boillon, born in 1911. He was consecrated (as they used to call it) bishop September 23, 1962, just a few weeks before the opening of the Council. (My uncle was consecrated bishop on August 1, 1962.) I remember that my uncle told me that the bishops sat the order in which they had been consecrated.
    Bishop Boillon gave a few interventions at the council – one during the fourth session when they were discussing war and peace. He reminded the bishops that his see was the scene of the bloodiest battle in World War I. My uncle told me the bishop who sat next to him had lost an arm in the war. If he was referring to Bishop Boillon, then that bishop’s intervention at the council on the topic of war would have been more meaningful.

  9. I found this PRAYER FOR THE ECUMENICAL COUNCIL in my father’s bureau after he died. It was in a prayer booklet used during Eucharistic Adoration (Holy Thursday – Good Friday) and is dated 1959.

    O Divine Spirit, sent by the Father in the name of Jesus, Who dost infallibly assist and guide the Church, pour forth the fullness of thy gifts upon the Ecumenical Council.

    Kind teacher and Comforter, enlighten the minds of our bishops, who, responding to the invitation of the Sovereign Roman Pontiff, will gather in solemn assembly.

    Grant that from this Council there may come forth abundant fruits: that the light and strength of the Gospel may ever more widely influence human society: that new vigour may infuse the Catholic religion and its missionary task; that the Church’s teaching may be better known and Christian morality more widely practiced.

    Sweet Guest of our souls, confirm our minds in truth, and dispose our hearts to obedience, so that the decisions of the council may find in us generous acceptance and prompt fulfillment.

    We beseech Thee, too, on behalf of those sheep, who no longer belong to the one fold of Jesus Christ, that they also, glorifying as they do in the name of Christian, may finally regain unity under one Shepherd.

    Renew in our time Thy wondrous works, as in a new Pentecost, and grant that Holy Church, gathered together in unanimous, more intense prayer, around Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and guided by Peter, may spread the kingdom of the Divine Saviour, which is the kingdom of truth, of justice, of love, and of peace. Amen.

  10. Frank Gibbons says:

    I think the best way to commemorate Vatican II is to read the source documents of the Council. I’ve have recently read Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum and am now reading Gaudium et Spes. What they have to say is breathtaking. I urge everyone to read the councilor documents for themselves and to let the Holy Spirit speak to you through them.

  11. HMS, would you consider allowing your uncle’s letters to be published on Conciliaria? I’d love to take a look! Please email me at if you’re interested.

  12. Deacon Stoltz: Is there an app for your site and if so how do I get it?

  13. Barbara, Conciliaria is also a web app. Go to Conciliaria on your phone or tablet browser and it will be optimized for that device. On the iPad and iPhone you can also add a Conciliaria icon to your home screen just like any other app.

  14. Hi Frank, you are absolutely right. On Conciliaria we’ll be going a few levels deeper, reporting on how those documents were developed. So if you wonder how a document came to be, we hope to answer those questions.

  15. David J White says:

    There are many of us who believe that Vatican II ushered in the worst crisis in the Church since Reformation. Still, this is a good resource to have. Know your enemy and all that.

  16. Fiergenholt says:


    The OWL program (Older-Wiser-Learners) at our local public community college has offered a twelve part series called “The Snapshot of the Sixties” at least three times over that past fifteen years or so. It has been fairly popular as such programs go. One of the reasons is that the participants — most of whom lived through the sixties themselves — bring in nostalgic items for “Show and Tell” and contribute their own personal lived experiences to the class dynamic. There have been outside speakers with first hand knowledge of the Kennedy Election; with first hand knowledge of the Cuban Missile Crisis; with first hand knowledge of the Kennedy Assassination; first hand knowledge of the Civil Rights Marches and Murders; and even first hand knowledge of Woodstock.

    The impact of Vatican II is mentioned for about ten minutes in the specific two-hour long class session covering “1962″ and again in the specific two-hour long class session on “1965.”

    Vatican II was not the sum totality of the 1960′s — nor did it cause the 1960′s — BUT it was a PRODUCT of a broader sweep in human cultural history — a paradigm-shift whose historical roots and causes goes back MUCH further. Here are three “teasers” for you to consider:

    –In an earlier posting on this blog-stream (2/16 at 9:4pm) I hinted that one needs to really understand the social and political context of Vatican I before commenting upon why Vatican II was absolutely necessary.

    –World War I and World War II made a very profound difference in the way our rather provincial American Catholic laity — especially the servicemen–understood the world around them. Ecumenical interests did not start in our Church in Vatican II but in the foxholes and gun-turrets of WWII and the trenches of WWI.

    –The post WWII G.I.Bill’s educational benefits opened up college education to a lot of folks who would never have considered it. A lot of Roman Catholic veterans went to public colleges and a lot of non-Catholic veterans went to Catholic ones. BUT There is a “Law of Unintended Consequences” at work here. The end result is that now in 2012, a number of scholars believe that the Roman Catholic lay folk here in the United States have the highest level of educational attainment of any nationally identifiable community of Roman Catholics anywhere in the world. In other words: more North American lay Catholics are – per capita — college graduates than are Italian Catholics or Polish Catholics or Irish Catholics or any other world-wide nationality group.

    As I said, these are only “teasers.”

  17. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Good points, Fiergenholt.

    Lest we forget: Vatican II was also responsible for the restoration of the permanent diaconate — a move that not only had a profound influence on my life, but on countless lives around the world (including, not coincidentally, anyone who happens to be reading this blog.)

    Dcn. G.

  18. I am \ delighted to share my uncle’s reflections when he attended Vatican II. I sent you an email yesterday. Hope it did not get spanned.

  19. I meant spammed.

  20. Thank you for the Vatican II prayer that was posted. I still remembered parts of it from my school days and now have the whole thing! I had found a version of it on a websites of prayers by John XXIII, but the translation was NOT the one I remembered. This one is — so thanks!

  21. Amen!

  22. Yes, Deacon! I bet I’m not the only person who was trying to find that prayer.

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