Father Joseph Thomas: Vatican II on the Laity: A Groundbreaking Moment

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Council bishops in Saint Peter's Square in 1961. (photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

By Father Joseph Thomas, EWTN News,

Father Joseph Thomas Opus Dei Father Joseph Thomas is the chaplain at Mercer House in Princeton, New Jersey.

COMMENTARY: The Council was a historical occasion in which the Church solemnly recognized the profound significance of the laity in its mission.

Father Joseph ThomasOn Oct. 16, 1963, during the Second Vatican Council’s debate regarding the Church, the Council Fathers began discussing a draft text dedicated to the laity. The Spanish Cardinal José María Bueno y Monreal delivered one of the opening speeches. He expressed his pleasure that, for the first time in a solemn declaration, the Church was giving attention to the movement to elevate the presence of laity in the Church.

The Archbishop of Seville recognized that the increased activity of the lay members of the People of God, present particularly in the early part of the 20th century, had already been a source of renewal for the Church. The draft text which had been elaborated during the Council’s preparation was very much a fruit of this renewal. …

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