By Nathan Rumohr
The B.C. Catholic
During the Year of Faith, which opens officially for the world Oct. 11, Pope Benedict XVI calls Catholics to open porta fidei ("the door of faith") to the world. One of the objectives of the Year of Faith is to explore the Second Vatican Council, which opened 50 years ago that day.
Over the next year The B.C. Catholic will look back at the watershed event that is still discussed and argued over today.
Many Catholics look upon Vatican II favourably for modernizing the Church. The council met in four sessions from 1962 to 1965 and produced 16 documents.
Changes that came out of the council allowed for Mass in the vernacular, moved the altar so the celebrating priest faced the congregation, increased the role of the laity, and opened the door for dialogue with other Christian denominations and with non-Christians.
There were also changes made to simplify the form of some of the sacraments, and many men's and women's orders simplified their style of dress.
Some Catholics view the Council negatively for changing too many things about the Church.
Pope Benedict, who participated in the council as a theological expert long before he became Pope, has criticized some of the changes that have taken place since the council, but he still affirms Vatican II's role and has called it a "compass" to his papacy.
The Pope also addressed some of the confusion that still lingers from the council in his pastoral letter announcing the Year of Faith Porta Fidei.
"Timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, 'have lost nothing of their value or brilliance,'" the Pope wrote.
"They need to be read correctly, to be widely known, and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church's Tradition."