Fifty years on from Vatican II, the Catholic Church still has much work to do to fulfil the council’s objective of being a church of openness and co-responsibility, the Diocese of Limerick stated this week.
Outlining a series of events, including six lectures over the next five weeks, to mark ‘Year of Faith’ – the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the commencement of Vatican II – organiser of the talks, Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon, said the Church needs to take on board the inspiration of Vatican II if it is to connect with the Ireland of today.
The first of the lectures, An Eyewitness Account, takes place this Friday in the South Court Hotel when current Bishop of Meath, Michael Smith, who attended all 168 days of the Second Vatican Council, will give a fascinating insight into his time as one of 12 official note takers appointed for the historic council.
Other high points of the Year of Faith celebration will be the second in the series of the lectures Enduring Legacy of the Second Vatican Council, which will be given by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, on Tuesday next, October 9.
Cardinal Murphy O’Connor was co-chairman of the Anglican and Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), one of the Apostolic Visitors to Ireland and he continues to serve on many Vatican committees.
The diocesan launch for the Year of Faith will be held on Saturday, October 13 in the South Court Hotel, Raheen, from 10.30am to 4pm. Members of all 60 parishes from across Limerick city and county have been invited to this pastoral workshop, which will be a celebration of faith and on how that faith can be shared across local communities this year.
Several national and local groups will have faith development resources available for participants to consider on the day.
Fr Fitzgibbon said, “Vatican II was the most significant moment in the history of the Church for centuries.
“For its time, it was radical and revolutionary and still is today. Proof of that is the very fact we are still only coming to terms with the full implications of what the Council asks of us as the Church today and to be honest, we are struggling to deliver the model of Church suggested by the Council.
“One of Pope John XXIII’s most abiding comments from Vatican II was ‘I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in’. This is as much a challenge for us today as it was back then and recent years have given us a clear and painful reminder of our failure to be entirely transparent and accountable.
“This milestone anniversary could not have come along at a more appropriate time as we clearly need to engage with the laity now more than ever, involving them in meaningful ways in leadership and ministry throughout our parishes.
“We are hoping our series of lectures will start a dialogue with the public at a local level here in the Diocese of Limerick that delivers on that which Pope John XIII and the Council intended. We would certainly appeal to the faithful and wider public to join us at any or, indeed, all of these lectures. There is a need for the Church to listen to other voices and in reflecting on Vatican II, we have an opportunity to do just that,” he added.
The series of lectures will also see Ireland’s foremost scripture lecturer, Diane Corkery, head of religious studies in St Patrick’s College, Thurles, talk on Vatican II’s teaching on the role of scripture on October 19, while retired Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray will talk on The Role of the Lay Faithful on Friday, October 26.
The penultimate lecture will be given on Friday, November 2 by Limerick Professor of Theology Fr Eamonn Conway, who has recently been appointed by the Vatican to participate as an advisor in a meeting of high-ranking cardinals and bishops that will chart the renewal of the Catholic Church.
Fr Conway’s talk will be titled The New Evangelisation – in continuity with Vatican III.
The final lecture will be delivered on Friday, November 9 by Waterford Institute of Technology lecturer in Theology & Religious Studies, Philip Cremin, who will talk on Peritus to Pope: Benedict XVI and the Council.
Each lecture begins at 7.30pm, except for the lecture by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, which commences at 6.30pm.
The first two lectures will take place in the South Court Hotel, with the remaining four at Mary Immaculate College.
Full details are available at www.limerickdiocese.org or call 061 400133.