The Second Vatican Council





Document Type

Book Chapter


DOI: 10.4324/9781315537627-38


Vatican II is, according to Roman Catholic understanding, the 21st Ecumenical Council. The Eastern Orthodox Churches object to the term “Ecumenical,” since they hold that only the first seven councils of the undivided Church are truly ecumenical. Vatican II was also ecumenical in the sense of the twentieth-century movement for Christian reunion. The Second Vatican Council called for dramatic changes to worship in the document Sacrosanctum Concilium. While most people welcomed these changes, they were not universally accepted. If active participation is a refrain in Sacrosanctum Concilium, then dialogue is a refrain in Gaudium et Spes. The people of God were encouraged to dialogue with atheists, with those who think differently than we do, with the world, and with people of all shades of opinion. As a “pastoral” constitution, Gaudium et Spes, of all the sixteen documents, best reflected Pope John’s vision for his pastoral council.

Published in

The Christian Theological Tradition, 4th ed.

Citation/Other Information

MacMillan, Elaine Catherine. “The Second Vatican Council.” In The Christian Theological Tradition, 500–508. 4th ed. Routledge, 2020.

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