The Second Vatican Council

The Four Constitutions

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Introductory ; Essay by Pope Benedict XVI

This collection ; includes the four constitutions of the Second Vatican ; Council, the most popular and key documents for ; understanding the Council itself, its decrees, and its ; declarations.

Few events in the history of the modern ; Catholic Church have been as far-reaching as the Second ; Vatican Council (1962-1965). And few have been as ; controversial. No one denies great changes have come about ; since the close of the Council. Have the changes been all ; good, all bad, or a mixture of both? To what extent were ; the changes, for good or ill, the result of the Council ; itself?

Some have criticized the Council for not ; going far enough, though they maintain that the "spirit ; of Vatican II" supports their rejection of many firmly ; established Catholic beliefs and practices. Others claim ; the Council went too far and abandoned certain fundamental ; Catholic tenets in the name of "updating" the ; Church. The popes of the Council-John XXII and Paul VI-and ; their successors who also participated in the Council -John ; Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI-have insisted that ; the Council itself was the work of the Holy Spirit. They ; have aggressively criticized misinterpretations and ; distortions of it. They insist that the Council be ; understood in fundamental continuity with the Church's ; Tradition, even while deepening the Church's ; self-understanding and calling for authentic reforms and ; renewal of Catholic life.

Readers can learn for ; themselves what the Second Vatican Council taught using ; this highly accessible collection of its basic ; texts.

This book uses the Catholic Truth Society ; translation and features:

  • The Constitution on ; the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, ; introduced by Cardinal Francis Arinze.
  • The ; Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen ; Gentium, introduced by Cardinal Paul ; Poupard.
  • The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine ; Revelation, Dei Verbum, introduced by Archbishop ; Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap.
  • The Pastoral ; Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium ; et Spes, introduced by Cardinal Angelo ; Scola.

Four major aspects of the Church's ; life-the Sacred Liturgy, the mystery of the Church herself, ; the Word of God, and the Church in the world as it is ; today-are explored. No twenty-first-century Catholic should ; be without these four foundational texts in this superb ; translation.

The collection also includes a general ; introduction by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San ; Francisco, as well as an address given by Pope Emeritus ; Benedict XVI in 2005, explaining how best to understand the ; Second Vatican Council in the history of the Church.

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