Second Vatican Council

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The Second Vatican Council was a massive gathering of the clerical leaders of the Catholic Church in the 1960s to consider and enact some of the most far-reaching changes in the history of the Church. Formally, it was the 21st ecumenical council of the Church, announced in 1959, opened in 1962 and closed in 1965.[1] Informally, it was one of the fundamental changes in culture that occurred during the 1960s. It was the first council in nearly a century, and the prior council (the First Vatican Council) had been cut short by war.

The Council converted the format of the Mass (liturgy), the central part of the Catholic Church, to more of a popular format. For example, the priest began facing the congregation rather than facing an altar with his back to the people.

Around the same time, though not directly the result of the Council, the language of the Mass was changed from the traditional Latin to the local vernacular, such as English or Spanish.

The more traditional Catholics complained that the Second Vatican Council also did the following:

  • softened the belief that the Catholic Church is the only true Church;
  • softened emphasis on Heaven and Hell
  • diluted belief in the infallible truth of the Bible

These perceptions are primarily based on a failure to carefully read the Documents of Vatican II in their entirety, and on misinterpretations, unsubstantiated erroneous assertions and rumors.[2]

Further reading

  • Ferrara, Christopher A., and Thomas E. Woods Jr. The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church (2002) attack on novel changes in recent decades; by two conservatives for popular audience excerpt and text search
  • O’Malley, John W. What Happened at Vatican II (2008), scholarly account


  1. Documents of Vatican II (
  2. VATICAN II - "Differing from Other Councils...", by Peter W. Miller (