Catherine Clifford

Vatican II conference to examine how Council has influenced Church 50 years on

By 
  • September 23, 2012

OTTAWA - An Ottawa conference Sept. 27-29 marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council will examine how to “hand on the
Gospel today” in light of Vatican II’s teachings, said Saint Paul University theology professor Catherine Clifford.

“One of goals is to promote the pastoral renewal of the Church,” said Clifford, an organizer of the Vatican II: For the Next Generation Conference. Co-sponsored by Saint Paul’s Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism Research Centre and Novalis, the conference will begin a week before bishops from around the world gather in Rome for the Synod on the New Evangelization.

“The world we live in today is very different from the world 50 years ago,” Clifford said. “Many of the questions are not the same questions the bishops were reflecting on in 1962-65 in the Council.”

When Vatican II opened 50 years ago, it took place against the backdrop of the Cold War, less than 20 years after the end of the Second World War, said Clifford. Since then there has been a marked shift to the global integration of societies and culture, she said.

“It’s an era of an unprecedented migration of peoples,” she said. “The population of the world has more than doubled; the population of the Catholic Church has more than doubled.

“The majority of Catholics live not in Europe and North America but in the Southern hemisphere. We are a very different Church than we were 50 years ago.”

Though poverty and social injustice remain challenges, “in some ways those issues are far more complex than they were 50 years ago,” she said.

Another sign is the growing recognition of the dignity of the human person that is probably even stronger than it was 50 years ago, when the civil rights movement in the United States was gaining momentum, she said.

The conference will feature a keynote address by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and one of the names that frequently appears in speculation about future popes. The cardinal will speak on “Vatican II: A Council of Justice and Peace.” He will also receive an honorary doctorate at a special convocation in the university chapel on Sept. 28.

Other conference attendees include dogmatic theology professor Christoph Theobold, S.J., from the Centre Sèvres in Paris, France, and Boston College systematic theology professor Richard Gaillardetz. The conference will feature a panel of bishops and advisors who participated in the Council, including Bishop Remi De Roo and Bishop Gerard J. Deschamps, and advisors Gregory Baum and Leo Laberge, omi.

See www.ustpaul.ca or e-mail vaticancentre@ustpaul.ca.

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