Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Bill Brewer, Media Director for the Diocese of Knoxville, recently had the opportunity to have a conversation with Cardinal Justin Rigali about his experiences as a young priest at Vatican II.
Cardinal Rigali vividly recalls 2,500 bishops from around the world filing into St. Peter’s Basilica in procession on Oct. 11, 1962, closely followed by Pope John XXIII, to open the council, which concluded Dec. 8, 1965. Cardinal Rigali processed into St. Peter’s Basilica behind the pope.
As the young Father Rigali settled into his assignment, he began working closely with the bishops and cardinals in attendance, a list that reads like a Who’s Who among Catholic leaders.
A young priest named Joseph Ratzinger served as a theological consultant and would later become Pope Benedict XVI. An archbishop, Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, took part prior to becoming Pope John Paul II, as did the future Pope Paul VI, Milan Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini. And Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I, also was in attendance. They were joined by such luminaries of the day as Bishop Fulton Sheen and Cardinal Francis Spellman.
Cardinal Rigali still quotes John XXIII in the pope’s opening remarks to the Second Vatican Council, “The principal aim of the Vatican Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be more effectively guarded and taught.” (read the rest here)