Next week Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council with a Mass starting the Year of Faith. Joining him will be the surviving Fathers of the Council and the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences.
For many people, though, the Council is no cause for celebration. Daphne McLeod, of Catholic group Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, sees it as a disaster leading to widespread ignorance about the faith, a decline in vocations and a rise in Catholics leaving the Church.
On the other hand, the Council cannot be blamed for everything bad that has happened to the Church since 1965. And it had, some Catholics would argue, concrete achievements, such as its declaration on religious freedom, and its opening the door to an undreamt of era of ecumenism. It also dramatically improved relations with Judaism.
So, should we be celebrating the Second Vatican Council? Or should we be seeking, instead, to fix the damage it did to the Church?