Donald Nesti CSSp

Marking the Year of Faith and the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the author reflects on the concept of the People of God engaged in ongoing dialogue which embodies the truth that God still so loves the world. Donald Nesti CSSp is director of the Centre for Faith and Culture at the University of St Thomas, Houston, Texas.

During this Year of Faith we continue to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. One of the great theologians of the 20th century, Karl Rahner, rightly observed that with this Council the Church moved from being a European Church to becoming a world Church. This statement by Rahner has immense implications for our growing appreciation of the accomplishments of the Council at a watershed moment in the history of the Church and its relationship to the world. Never before had a council seen people of all continents represented by the more than 2,500 bishops present. As the Council Fathers took their seats in St Peter’s Basilica they needed only to look to their left or right to realize the different cultures from which they came. One of their major challenges was to understand and express the implications of these cultural differences in relation to the “unity and sanctity” that Pope John XXIII said were two goals of the Council. During this ecumenical assembly bishops who embodied the ways of lives of their various peoples would spend four years discussing and debating the implications of their belief in God who is Love, and how God still so loves this world that he has charged the Church to carry out this divine mission of love in the world. This world Church was faced with the task of clarifying how divine agape unfolds in the relationships within itself as the Mystery of the People of God (Lumen Gentium), and in the Church’s relationships with all aspects of the world (Gaudium et Spes). Simply put, the Council was a massive meditation on how it was to live agape as a communio for the world.

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