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Vatican II's golden anniversary


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The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, the most important Catholic event since the 16th-century Council of Trent, was solemnly opened by Pope John XXIII 50 years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962. Commentators ever since have taken that date as the beginning of the Catholic Church's engagement with modern society and culture. In fact, however, the Church's grappling with modernity began 84 years earlier, with the election of Pope Leo XIII on March 3, 1878. That date marks the beginning of the transition from the Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation to the Catholicism of the New Evangelization. And in that process of transition, Vatican II played a crucial, accelerating role.

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