Today’s reading brings us back to the Second Vatican Council. Although it took place fifty years ago, it was only the opening scene of a drama still on our stage. Many Protestants have called it the biggest event of the Twentieth Century.
The things in today’s reading that could put us in mind of Vatican II are, first, Our Lord’s telling all his disciples, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bund in heaven.” People only remember Jesus saying that to Peter, but here he said it to the rest of his disciples. Secondly, in today’s reading Jesus also said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”
Vatican II gathered more than two or three. For the Autumn months of four consecutive years, day after day, there were twenty-two hundred bishops in the nave of St. Peter’s. Each of them had his chance to contribute what his prayer life told him about the gospel message. The Jesuit author, John W. O’Malley, called Vatican II “the biggest meeting ever held.”
An interesting thing about it was that all the bishops learned from each other, eventually being enabled to come to consensus on what Christ wants of us.
Some of us were raised to believe that the Council of Trent gave us the final word on Catholic teaching. Well, it did its best. But Trent’s bishops came from only three countries, and they were places where the people were bound by law to be Catholics. And, they didn’t debate issues, they only signed what the Pope’s theologians put before them.
It was 1860's First Vatican Council that the clerics in Rome’s Curia liked best. It declared the Pope to be infallible; and they felt that as his spokesmen, it made them infallible too.
We belong to the Roman Catholic Church. We are not just Roman. We are bound to be Catholic as well. The word Catholic means open to all people and open to all views.