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People holding lighted candles leave St Peter’s Basilica after Pope Francis celebrated Mass yesterdeay to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council (CNS/Vatican Media)

Pope Francis yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council by pleading for the Church to “overcome all polarisation and preserve our communion”.

In a Mass in St Peter’s Basilica, which served as the council’s chambers during the 1962-1965 meetings, the Pope said the council, which was inaugurated by Pope St John XXIII, was “one great response” to the question “Do you love me?” posed by Christ to his disciples.

“To rekindle her love for the Lord, the Church, for the first time in her history, devoted a council to examining herself and reflect on her nature and mission,” the Pope said.

Yet while the ecumenical council revisited many areas of Catholic doctrine, reassessed its relationship with other Christian communities and religions, revised Catholic liturgy to allow for the vernacular, and reconfigured Church structures to allow for greater participation of the laity, in the 60 years that have followed, it also proved to be a flashpoint among various ecclesial circles.

During the 60th anniversary Mass, Francis lamented that those changes had sometimes led to deep divisions within the Church and warned against the temptation of “worldliness.”

“Let us be careful: Both the ‘progressivism’ that lines up behind the world and the ‘traditionalism’ that longs for a bygone world are not evidence of love, but of infidelity.”

During the Mass, the Pope once more reiterated his support for the reforms of Vatican II.

“How timely the council remains!” he said. “It helps us reject the temptation to enclose ourselves within the confines of our own comforts and convictions.”


Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization (By Christopher White, NCR Online)


Pope at Mass: ‘Learn from Vatican II how to see the Church’ (Vatican News)

On Vatican II anniversary, pope chides those who choose ‘party’ over unity (Crux)

Pope Francis on Vatican II anniversary: ‘May the Church be overcome with joy’ (CNA)