What is the meaning of the expression ‘pastoral’ applied to the Second Vatican Council? This seems a most difficult question to answer. Vatican II was a pastoral council, presenting teachings in a new, enriched manner, in a style which was not assertive or censorious, but descriptive or narrative. It also inaugurated a new way of being Council, although one must be careful to ensure that an over-enthusiastic welcome of the Council as ‘event’ does not obscure the rich conciliar texts and constant teaching of the Church. This new conciliar style can perhaps be seen as the passage from what is the Church to how it operates in the modern world. As a new conciliar paradigm, it can open the way to seeing Vatican II in a new light-hence the need to differentiate carefully a number of elements: the mind of the Council, the different nature of the documents, and the different magisterial authority even within the same documents. This book aims at clarifying and indicating a possible hermeneutical principle, leading towards a more faithful reception of the Second Vatican Council, which respects the Council in its precise identity and so gives the conciliar teaching its true place in a revealed and defined structure. Hopefully this historical and theological research, involving numerous archive documents, might help looking at Vatican II as a way which will foster unity within the Church.
2016, paperback, 552 pp.