Tag Vatican II

Beyond Vatican II

By John Mansford Prior

Need for a Paradigm Shift in Parochial Cultures

Due to rapid social change in a post-modern “cyber” world, Catholics now feel relatively free to forge new meanings and networks that are often only loosely connected with the parish. There is a plurality of models in contemporary Catholicism (See, Claver 2009:111-115). As in Latin America, Catholic loyalties are shifting from diocese and parish to movements, groups and organisations (Smith: 1994: 119-143).

BECs (Basic Ecclesial Community) cannot breathe in a staid, homogenous religious culture. For if BECs are absorbed into the institutional structure of the conventional parish they tend to be reduced to little more than parish wards. In that case Catholic activists move out into extra-ecclesial networks. Similarly, when charismatics are brought under the control of the conventional parish, and clear demarcations are insisted upon between liturgical rites and charismatic celebrations,1) then understandably many move on to the freer Pentecostal churches.

When left to mature according to their own dynamic, both movements advance social pluralism, foster participation in the wider society and promote an expectation and practice of both church and societal accountability. Participatory BECs express a process of social differentiation in the direction of personal choice and greater participation. In participatory BECs women experience independence and self-esteem. Individual choice is encouraged, and therefore free will. The emphasis is on achieved rather than ascribed status which contrasts sharply with the conventional parish.

We need, then, to shift from an authoritarian to a collegial culture; from a commando ethos to one of listening; from a religiosity that inculcates acceptance to that which inspires faith-in-action; from a church culture over-adaptive to local and global cultural norms to a church culture embedded in the values and norms of the Scriptures; from a church centred on its members to a church focused on its mission to society.

Towards a Communion of Communities

In short, the culture of the conventional parish needs to be replaced by an open, networking culture. We need to develop the parish into a flexible poly-centred web where BECs and other (charismatic) movements can mutually enrich rather than studiously avoid one another. If each movement were somehow to combine their strengths in the coming decades the result would be extraordinarily potent. If the charismatic movement were to absorb, and be transformed by, the social justice vision of the BECs while the BECs would take up the emotional, communal, narrational, hopeful and radically embodied ‘experientialism’ of the charismatics, the offspring could be more powerful than either parent (Smith: 1994: 119-143).

At the beginning this might well have to be forged despite the parish priest and his pastoral council. The vision and the practice comes from below; the pressure must also. The central threads converging in the ‘nucleus’ of this poly-centred web would consist of Catholic activists and their families. This core would arrange their own ongoing training and so challenge the parish pastoral team. Does anyone here know where we can find any “dialogic, participatory, co-responsible parish pastoral teams?

Lay leaders from BECs could be trained together with ordained pastors and non-affiliated activists according to the reflection-action-reflection (see-judge-act) model of reading life in the light of the Hebraic-Christian scriptures — and in multi-faith contexts the scriptures of other faith traditions – and then acting upon insights.2)

This would assist the BECs in uncovering the social roots and religious implications of the problems of life. Members could learn to read the bible in a way that links Christian symbols, events and teachings to the life of Asia’s poor. Then, as long as the ordained. leadership does not feel threatened by developments but continues to work collegially in bold-humility, the open parochial culture would cultivate a communion of communities. 3)


1) While the disciplinary norms of the Instruction on Healing (art. 1 – 10) are theoretically plausible, I am not aware of their implementation which, if carried out, might well drive even more Catholics into the Pentecostal churches.

2) One pattern that has emerged in Java, Indonesia, is that collaboration in the struggle against systematic corruption and for human rights forges deep friendship and close bonding which opens up into inter-scriptural sharing on their fath based commitments.

3) For an appreciative yet critical look at Gaudium et spes 40 years down the road, see Felix Wilfred 2006, 15-20. Felix Wilfred argues for a broad sociological-political-economic-cultural analysis of society rather than a narrower cultural-anthropological one.

Vatican II View of Culture and Its Implications for Peace

By Felix Wilfred

One way for theology to contribute to peace is to take further the important teaching of Vatican II on culture and draw out its implications for the promotion of peace. The colonial period was characterized by an evolutionary and hierarchical understanding of culture. Accordingly, some cultures were viewed as superior and developed, whereas others — those of the colonized peoples — were looked down as inferior and needing development. Thanks to the contribution of anthropological studies, Vatican II refused to entertain any such evolutionary and hierarchical understanding of culture. Rather, it saw cultures as a deeply human reality, each one with its own unique characteristics.

What we have, then, are a plurality of cultures, every one of them different, but none of them superior or inferior to others. I think the plurality of cultures so clearly acknowledged and affirmed by the Council cannot be deployed only to contexualize Christianity. Vatican II, after having presented a larger and humanistic view of culture, turned it to the advantage of the Church for its programme of inculturation. But the point is culture has a larger role to play in humanizing the world and society and in fostering mutual understanding. It offers among other things ways and means to resolve differences in human and societal relationships. Promotion of peace at the local level needs to be nourished by these sources and latch on to the concrete strategies each culture has devised and transmitted from generation to generation. The local culture may have also important lessons for the construction of peace in other societies and at the global level.

Culture and Theology of Creation

A theology from above would view culture in relation to economy of salvation. Culture needs to conform to God’s Word, instead of God’ Word coming in encounter with culture, some would argue. On the other hand, a theology of creation would view culture as a reality of human collective life and having value in itself: If God acts through human agency and medium in different areas of life, this applies as well to the case of peace. The evil of violence is caused by human beings, and God brings about peace through the same human beings by letting them use positive means and ways at their disposal. If violence and conflicts have existed from the beginning of humanity, the same humanity has also found the means to resolve conflicts and bring to an end hatred and violence.

Human interrelationships and encounters are shaped by culture, and the ways in which people relate are culturally embedded. It is easy then to understand why when ruptures take place in these relationships and manifests themselves in conflicts and violence, the same culture is crucial in bringing about healing touch, reconciliation and peace. Thus it makes sense to investigate the cultural potential among every people for cessation of hostilities and entry into a process of peace and reconciliation.

Mystical Approach to Culture – Way to Peace

I already referred to Nicholas of Cusa. In his work “Peace of Faith”, he sees harmony of religions resulting from a vision. It is remarkable that at a time of great religious conflicts, he was able to relate the warring religions from a mystical perspective and see their ultimate unity.

It happened that after several days – perhaps because of long continued meditation—a vision was revealed to this zealous man. From it he concluded that of a few wise men familiar from their own experience with all such differences which are observed in religions throughout the world, a single easy harmony could be found and through it a lasting peace established by appropriate and true means.1)

Today, even as we try to deepen the mystical dimension called for in inter-religious understanding, we need to also see the mystical dimension in the plurality of cultures, and in the harmony of cultures. Mysticism breaks the barriers, borders and leads us to see greater unity, and it has the power to make us see things in a different light.

That applies to different cultures. They do not become rivals, but are _ bonded together as manifold expressions of a single humanity united with the divine mystery. The sense of unity and harmony helps us also discover in each culture, though circumscribed by particularities of geography and history, something that surpasses these, something “that relates it at a different plane with other cultures. It helps us learn how each culture promotes and sustains peace, and the resources it . possesses for this goal. This mystical vision of cultures could be assisted by such concrete practices as inter-cultural communication.


1) Nicholas of Cusa, De Pace Fidei (1453) chapter I.

Vatican II and Justice in the World

Dr. Paul Hwang – Director of ALL Forum

Gaudium et Spes and Justice in the World

In this year we celebrate the 50 th anniversary of publication of the Justice in the world , the final document of the 2 nd World Bishops’ Synod in 1971. As we have seen often in this section of the newsletter, the document was not born out of nothing. It has had much to do with and been much influenced by Vatican II especially Gaudium et Spes or Joy and Hope (1965), one of the most important documents of the first world pastoral council. Indeed, before the Vatican II documents, it could find its trace in the Mother an Teacher (1961), or Mater et Magistra, and Peace in the World (1963) or Pacem et Terris , the both encyclicals written by Pope John 23. It was Gaudium et Spes which clearly provided the idea of the just economy order in the world (no. 85) for the first time among the Church’s official documents.

We could find a more integrated perspective on Catholic Social teachings when it comes to relation of justice, peace and equality. Firstly, it shows a close connection between justice and peace issues by stating “In order to build up peace above all the causes of discord among men, especially injustice, which foment wars must be rooted out.”(no. 83, and no. 84-87). Secondly, from the perspective of justice, equality, and human dignity, it suggests ‘genuine human development’ as follows: “To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are connected with individual and social discrimination.” (no.66)

Action for Justice as Constitutive Dimension of the Gospel

These paragraphs in Gaudium et Spes mentioned right above and the encyclical Populorum Pregresio or On the Development of Peoples (1967) written by Pope Paul XI, which succeeded the spirit of the former, directly influenced the Church’s perception of justice and peace as if it is just one concept. Similarly, the document Justice in the World raised the issue of justice in earnest by proclaiming that “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, of the Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation.” (no.6, stress added.) It also insisted that “Christian love of neighbor and justice cannot be separated. For love implies an absolute demand for justice, namely a recognition of the dignity and rights of one’s neighbor.” (no.34).

Church Renewal or Reform in the Document

One of most important paragraphs in relation to Church renewal after Vatican II in Catholic Social Teachings was stated in the Justice in the world by stating “While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, she recognizes that anyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and life style found within the Church herself.” (no. 40). No Church document mentioned justice within the Church as seen in the document. It goes on to point out “We also urge that women should have their own share of responsibility and participation in the community life of society and likewise of the Church. We propose that this matter be subjected to a serious study employing adequate means: for instance, a mixed commission of men and women, religious and lay people, of differing situations and competence.” (no. 42-43) It also recognized and stressed just wage and important role in the Church for lay people: “Those who serve the Church by their labor, including priests and religious, should receive a sufficient livelihood and enjoy that social security which is customary in their region. Lay people should be given fair wages and a system for promotion. We reiterate the recommendations that lay people should exercise more important functions with regard to Church property and should share in its administration.”(no. 41) In this sense the document surely is one of the champions for Church renewal in many aspects.

Mission Theology in the Vatican II Era Gift and Task for the Local Churches of Asia

Mission Theology in the Vatican II Era Gift and Task for the Local Churches of Asia

By James H. Kroeger, M.M


Evangelization, for many Catholics, is a generally unfamiliar and relatively new term. The Second Vatican Council and recent popes have placed evangelization at the center of the Church’s identity and mission. Today the Church sees that the “principal elements” of mission and evangelization are: (a) presence and witness of life; (b) commitment to social development and human liberation; (c) interreligious dialogue; (d) explicit Gospel proclamation and catechesis; and, (e) prayer, contemplation, and liturgical life. In a word, the one evangelizing mission of the Church is comprised of several component elements and authentic forms. This integral or holistic view has served the Church well over the past decades. Viewing evangelization through five of its principal elements results in clarity, insight, and proper integration. This is the Catholic vision of evangelization.


Vatican II forcefully declared: “The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature. For it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she takes her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father” (AG 2). Christians believe in a Trinitarian God, who is not  just the founder of a missionary community, the Church, but a God who is inherently missionary. The missio Dei was already operative before the Church came into existence. This theology locates mission at the very center of what the Church is and what she is called to be and to do.

Pope Paul VI asserts that missionary evangelization is the “vocation proper to the Church.” He continues: “We wish to confirm once more that the task of evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church.” Evangelizing lies at “her deepest identity.” She “exists in order to evangelize.” She “is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being” (EN 14-15). The emphasis is clear: the Church is mission; she does not only do some activities that foster mission. The theologian Emil Brunner captured the Church’s missionary identity well: ““The Church exists by mission as fire exists by burning.”


At the time of Vatican II, ecclesiology had a clear universalist emphasis; the Council facilitated a renewed awakening of the importance of the local Church. This has resulted in a richer understanding of the full missionary responsibility of the local Christian community. Vatican II asserted that the Church of Christ is fully present “in all legitimate local congregations” (LG 26); thus, as the Roman document Dialogue and Mission (14) asserts: “Every local church is responsible for the totality of mission.”

Probably some of the best pastoral-mission theology on the local Church is to be found in the documents of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). The Asian bishops assert: “The primary focus of our task of evangelization then, at this time in our history, is the building up of a truly local Church” (FABC I: 9). “For the Asian Churches, the decisive new phenomenon — will be the emergence of genuine Christian communities in Asia—Asian in their way of thinking, praying, living, communicating their own Christ-experience to others:–. If the Asian Churches do not discover their own identity, they will have no future” (ACMC 14). Asia’s bishops have consistently promoted a “new way of being Church” and that “the acting subject of mission is the local Church living and acting in communion with the universal Church” (FABC V: 8.0; 3.3.1). In all of this, FABC and its vision of Church become “‘Asia’s continuing Vatican II.”


One could assert that the Church’s mission of evangelization is too important to be left to the clergy and religious alone; thus, in Vatican II one finds a renewed emphasis on the missionary nature of the entire Church. Every baptized member of the Church is equally an evangelizer, whether layperson, ordained, or religious. An integral vision of evangelization engages the entire Church (from top to bottom; especially, all the local Churches), all states of life (lay, religious, ordained, married, single), all apostolic activities and forms of witness (the five principal elements).

It must be noted that this emphasis on everyone’s call to mission is not superficially based on the desire to have “more workers for the job.” A profound and beautiful theology of Christian baptism and identity underlies this emphasis. Christifideles Laici (33) speaks of the laity’s missionary responsibility: “The lay faithful, precisely because they are members of the Church, have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel; they are prepared for this work by the sacraments of Christian initiation and by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Laity are full-fledged evangelizers; mission is both their right and duty within the Church; they are not missionary due to some kind of “delegation of mission” coming from a priest or even a bishop.

“By the grace and call of Baptism and Confirmation, all lay people are missionaries” (EA 45). This wave of renewal is still not fully recognized; it offers great potential for the Church.

The New Perspectives

The New Perspectives

By Anna Mitzi

It was my first time to join a course or even to discuss about the documents of Vatican II. I read the bible rarely and too lazy to read Vatican documents. I say that I was sceptical about the Vatican. Somehow, I thought that the Vatican or church can never be brave enough to make a statement or perhaps take action about the issues that are actually going on this world; gender issues for example. But, for the past two years maybe its not the Vatican who’s not brave enough rather myself who blindly did not see the Vatican’s actions; and their actions lay between words on the Vatican documents.
The first time when I joined the course, I was completely confused and lost during the discussions. My knowledge about the history of the Vatican or church is really poor. But that’s what made me more curious about how exactly the church is looking at the global issues and where actually the churches stand is.

During the discussions in the session, my I always thought it would be easier if the Pope could make a “mandatory” or doctrine, in order to make a global movement. But…the change is never easy isn’t it? And for hundreds of years the church has survived, it actually has changed from the early church. And it turns out that the gospel is dynamic, it moves. The system or the way church represents to the world has slowly changed. I realize that it is really hard for churches to make a very clear statement on where they stand. Why? Because there’s an impact from political or cultural issues. The church needs to embrace all the circles, whether it is conservative or progressive; whether it is pros or cons, agree or disagree. The Church needs to embrace all the circles based on humanity. Just because you disagree on something that doesn’t mean you are not valued. So, in my perspective that way one could interpret the Vatican documents and form it into actions in the society, which is most important rather than debating about The Pope statements about the global issues.perspective was changing a little bit.

And maybe that’s why Vatican II changed the way of its communication. The Church can no longer wait for people to come to church but the church needs to be present at the center in society and so it becomes easier for lay people and the world to recognize the existence of the church. But how could we make this existence possible to see? My simply answer is by ‘Us’.

I must say that we are the church. We are the face of the church, the form of the reign of God and the voices of the world. Once in my discussion during the course I said that church is like a body. Every single creature is a part of it. The brain can’t work by itself; it needs blood which carries the oxygen from the heart and the body cannot move by itself without the system of the brain. There cannot be just clergy or just lay people even the nature is a part of it. It means that the clergy needs lay people to serve and the opposite too, we need to serve the nature to give back what we take from it. And that’s what makes the church become more adaptive through the world changes.

The next question that comes to my mind is what is the benefit if we (Us) become the ‘agent of change’ of the church? In my vision the world that we’ve been living could be a better place than now. I do believe that anyone who is reading my writing right now, has a vision, an idea of how the world is supposed to be. It cannot be denied that the church always becomes a big part that witnesses and even impacts the global movements. Hence, I do believe that if The Church can hear us then the world can hear us too.