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Archbishop discusses Second Vatican Council

Christian Myers | Friday, March 23, 2012

Thursday afternoon, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, gave the seventh annual Terrence R. Keeley Vatican lecture, “The Second Vatican Council ahead of us,” in the Eck Visitor Center.

Director of the Nanovic Institute A. James McAdams said organization sponsors the lecture to strengthen the relationship between Notre Dame and the Vatican.

Bruguès said the Second Vatican Council has been a central force in the Church since its inception and still impacts Catholicism worldwide.

“General [Charles] de Gaulle once said he considered the Second Vatican Council the most important event of the century, but that century is not over,” Bruguès said. “The effects of the Second Vatican Council can only be appreciated using long-range binoculars.”

It is important for Catholics to maintain the perception of the Second Vatican Council as a guiding force for the modern Church, he said.

“The title of this lecture could also have been ‘The Second Vatican Council: a compass for our time,'” Bruguès said.

The archbishop also said the “attitude of listening” to and paying attention to “the other” is a legacy of the Second Vatican Council. He said the word “listen” is one of the words used most often in the Bible.

Listening came about as a culture of paying attention to what others say, he said. This concern for others extended to those of non-Christian faiths, Bruguès said.

“It was a Copernican revolution in the relationship between the church and religions that do not follow Christ,” he said.

Bruguès said this was part of the council’s call for universal brotherhood. The emphasis on respect for freedom of conscience is important in modern societies, he said.

“Countries as pluralistic as the United States can no longer do without religious dialogue, which is an aspect of social peace,” Bruguès said. “Faith communities have a right to express themselves in the public sphere.”

Bruguès said the ideal for Catholics is to love the Church as a mother. He said the council brings the Church’s laity closer and strengthens understanding through teaching.

“The Second Vatican Council made our understanding of the church deeper and more affectionate,” Bruguès said.

He said Catholic schools and universities serve a very important role in the modern church of educating the laity.

“I consider a Catholic University an opportunity because the teachers and students are trained to study new challenges,” Bruguès said. “It is a means to find a way to situate ourselves in looking at these challenges.”