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Vatican II’s primary goal, according to St. John XXIII


Renata Sedmakova | Shutterstock

Philip Kosloski - published on 10/11/21 - updated on 10/09/23

When St. John XXIII inaugurated the Second Vatican Council, he stated its principal goal was to defend the truth.

St. John XXIII opened the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962, and revealed the primary goal of the Council in his opening address.

The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.

That doctrine embraces the whole man, body and soul. It bids us live as pilgrims here on earth, as we journey onwards towards our heavenly homeland.

He saw the Council’s main activity as to safeguard the truth, but also to present that same truth to the modern world.

What is needed at the present time is a new enthusiasm, a new joy and serenity of mind in the unreserved acceptance by all of the entire Christian faith, without forfeiting that accuracy and precision in its presentation which characterized the proceedings of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. What is needed, and what everyone imbued with a truly Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit craves today, is that this doctrine shall be more widely known, more deeply understood, and more penetrating in its effects on men’s moral lives. 

The 20th century saw a rapid advance in technology and a radical change in living. St. John XXIII recognized these advances and believed the Church needed to address the world in a new way, preserving the truth and communicating it with renewed enthusiasm.

A unique aspect of St. John XXIII’s approach was to not focus on the negative, but to focus on the positive. Instead of issuing condemnations, he wanted to make clarifications.

The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations.

The Second Vatican Council continues to affect the Church today, and it is important for all Catholics to go back to the Council’s documents to understand it more fully and see how the Holy Spirit helped to preserve the heritage of truth in the modern world.

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