‘Men, women and schools of thought have reformed and/or revitalised the Christian tradition.’ How well does this statement reflect the impact on Christianity of ONE significant person or school of thought, other than Jesus? Pope John XXIII was a highly influential, religious leader in the Catholic Church, whom was elected Pope on 28th October 1958. Although he was thought to be a transitional pope, John XXIII was often addressed as the ‘good pope’ due to his significant involvement in Catholicism. He challenged the role of the Catholic Church and emphasised the importance of interfaith dialogue. John XXIII’s most significant impact is the creation of the Second Vatican Council, which taught the Catholic Church to “open the windows” to engage with the modern world. Pope John XXIII was also passionate in promoting social justice, world peace and human rights. The statement clearly defines the impact John XXIII contributed to, as he reformed and revitalised the Christian tradition to adapt to the modern world of the 1960s, as well the ecumenism of all Christian denominations.
Before the opening of Vatican II on 11 October 1962, the Church was separated from the secular world, as it was considered that everything not within Christianity was corrupt. Even so, sectarianism between different Christian denominations was very strong. Mass had also been spoken in Latin since 1570, and the laity were not supposed to read the Bible, and were merely observers to the liturgy, as all the ministries were done by the clergy.1 Since 1870, no Pope had an official engagement outside the Vatican, and mostly focused within the Catholic Church, however John XXIII changed this concept completely. He worked to reform the Catholic Church by calling the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
The Reformation was when the Protestants broke away from the Pope. Martin Luther King, the leader, led the break with Rome. He translated the bible into German. The 95 Theses was basically a book of complaints. One of the theses was the practice of selling indulgences, which was distributed all over Europe. The practice of selling indulgences was a forgiven pass for not going to confession. ...
Vatican II was the first council of any sort in over 100 years, and in its course, over 2500 bishops attended the four sessions convened.
Vatican II was considered “an engagement with the modern world through a Christ-centred mission”2 which completely changed the mindset and mentality of people to engage with the modern world. The renewal of the liturgy saw the involvement of the laity, as now the Tridentine Mass was translated into the vernacular. The laity were now encouraged to study the Bible, as it was also translated into vernacular language. This impacted the whole concept of Mass, as the laity could now actively participate in the celebration of the liturgy and were recognised by the Church as the people of God, through the dogmatic constitution ‘Lumen Gentium’.
John XXIII demonstrated his personal engagement with the world through his own personal examples, like meeting with world leaders, visiting inmates in prisons and sick children in hospitals. John XXIII also impacted on the expression of Christianity through the acceptance of the means of media such as, film, radio and television to engage with adherents. The Catholic Church would be outdated and irrelevant to modern life, if not for Pope John XXIII’s calling for Second Vatican Council, which revitalised the whole Church to engage with the modern world.
Vatican II also brought about the 21st Ecumenical Council, which included the change of attitude from hostility/sectarianism to mutual respect and acceptance of all Christian denominations. Before Vatican II, the Catholic Church was seen as the ‘one true Church’, and Protestants were called heretics, while Orthodox Christians were schismatics. The council sought to renew the life of the church and reform its structures and institutions.3 One of the aims of John XXIII was the ‘Decree of Ecumenism’ which was to promote the ‘unity of Christians’, and thus stated, “Let us place values on those things which unite us and lay aside that which separates us.”4 Pope John XXIII demonstrated this reform by meeting with the Anglican Archbishop of Cantebury and also the Orthodox Patriarch in the 1960‘s.
... it affected the worldwide Christian community) of the Roman Catholic Church. It began on October 11, 1962 under, Pope John XXIII with over two ... placement of Mary's role within the church was debated ... purpose of any Christian society is to confess Christ before the world. Due to the ecumenical goal of the church doctrine, the ...
In 1965, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches apologised to each other and lifted the mutual excommunication of the Great Schism in 1054.The Catholic Church also became involved with the World Council of Churches in 1940. John XXIII’s ecumenical reform has now impacted the interaction between Christians, as they are now encouraged to share prayer and social actions together, ending the sectarianism conflicts between Christian denominations. interfaith dialogue was also a factor of the Vatican II, encouraging mutual respect and dialogue amongst different religious traditions, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. In the Vatican II document ‘Nostra Aetate’, he recognised and accepted that there is the presence of truth contained in other religious traditions, and condemned ‘anti-semitism’. John XXIII’s reforms of ecumenism, unity of mankind, and interfaith dialogue has impacted and revitalised the interaction of the secular and non secular world.
Pope John XXIII also appealed to the whole world to work for peace and justice, emphasising the importance of “unity among mankind”. The role of the church was also questioned, and now became a ‘servant’ to the world as the Catholic Church became aware of social issues such as human rights, unity of Christians, social justice and world peace. John XXIII revitalised the Catholic Church’s view of modern world and its relationship to it. The church now was at the service of the world rather than in opposition.5 The Catholic Church was now open to dialogue and work with other Christians, other religions and even atheistic governments such as the communists. John XXIII also encouraged all Christians to be called to discipleship, and new roles of ‘evangelisation’ and ‘word for social justice’.
This is further expressed in his encyclical, ‘Mater Et Magistra’ (Mother and Teacher).
Every year, on the day before Easter, one of the biggest and most important masses of the year happens on that night. The mass is called the Easter Vigil. The Vigil brings out the true and full nature of the Catholic Church and all of its people. It celebrates Jesus Christ, as he rises from the dead and ascends into heaven. Since this mass is so large, it is split into four parts. The first, the ...
‘Mater Et Magistra’ restated the teaching of social justice, and the necessity for wealthy nations to support developing countries. The encyclical stated, “Justice and humanity demand that those countries which produce consumer goods, especially farm products…should come to the assistance of other countries where large sections of the population are suffering from want and hunger.”6 Another encyclical by John XXIII is ‘Pacem in Terris’ (Peace on Earth), which applied to the whole world for peace as it was on the brink of a nuclear war. ‘Pacem in Terris’ pleaded for the banning of nuclear weapons and an end to the arms race.7 Another aim for calling the Second Vatican Council was the promotion of ‘unity among mankind’.
The Pope established an engagement between the Catholic Church and the modern world by his involvement in current world affairs. He met with John F. Kennedy (USA) and Khrushchev (USSR) to maintain and counsel for peace of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. John XXIII exhibited his contact with secular and non religious leaders to shape the path ahead for the common good of all. Pope John XXII was not only a significant figure in Christianity but also a highly influential figure in the world. Today, this has impacted on some Catholic organisations focusing on helping the poor and the development of third world countries.
Through the 4 constitutions, 9 decrees and 3 declarations of the Vatican II, John XXIII revolutionised and challenged the traditions of triumphalism, clericalism and legalism in the Catholic church and brought participation by the laity, ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and a focus on justice and peace of the world. 8John XXIII’s reason and inspiration for his contribution come from the core Christian belief of Jesus’ commandment for love, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”9 and ”Love your neighbour as yourself.”10 Pope John XXIII was an inspiration man who reformed and revitalised the whole Catholic Church and impacted the way liturgy is held today, the interaction between Christian denominations and other religious traditions, and the focus on social justice and peace in the Christian tradition today.