Bishop who attended Vatican II offers his reflections
+Remi De Roo speaks on Vatican II
The Archdiocese of Winnipeg marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council with prayer, sacred music and reflections on the legacy of the historical gathering of more than 2,500 bishops and theologians from 1962 to 1965.
A highlight of the two-day Celebrating Our Journey Together event Oct. 26 and 27 at St. Vital Church was a visit by Manitoba-born Bishop Remi De Roo who, as Bishop of Victoria, BC, attended all four sessions of the council, one of 104 Canadian bishops who participated.
As he introduced Remi De Roo, Archbishop James Weisgerber said the Holy Spirit gave the church Pope John XXIII who convened the Second Vatican Council. “John XXII said there’s a whole new world in front of us. How can we become the Gospel in a way that will give life to this world? How can we share the life of Christ with this world? The Second Vatican Council was not so much to solve all the problems but to create a road map for a direction for the church to walk in. We’ve been walking in that direction for 50 years and we’re just beginning.”
Remi De Roo said there are three words that help us to understand what Vatican II was all about. The French word ressourcement, the Italian aggiornamento and the English, development.
“To understand ressourcement, I invite you to go to the story in John’s Gospel of Jesus and the woman at the well. He says those who believe, who accept the word, from their hearts will arise waters of life.”
Remi De Roo said aggiornamento means more than just bringing up to date. “It’s a sense of renewal, of revival, of starting afresh.” It was also the name of the pontifical program of John XXIII in a speech he gave in 1959.
De Roo said development is essential in the sense of both spiritual development and theological development.
“Before Vatican II we had the impression that the church was two classes,” he said. “There was the ordained and the non-ordained and we went to the point of thinking all the powers of the church emerged out of the sacrament of orders. Vatican II said there is no basis for that. In our faith and our baptism we are all equal in dignity and in the capacity to serve.”
He said another key word to emerge from Vatican II was communion “and another word we can add was a favourite of John XXIII and that was friendship, which is one area I think our church still needs to make a lot of progress.”
Remi De Roo said one of the worst problems the church is facing is fundamentalism, “pulling a piece of truth out of its context and using that as a sledgehammer to hit people over the head. It’s the whole painting we must look at not just one detail. Any truth pulled out of context can be distorted and misunderstood.”
He said one sign of hope is that 50 years ago it was impossible for a woman to study theology and today there are more woman theologians then men theologians. “The women theologians have a big advantage because they are more willing to bring the dimension of the heart to a discussion and as a result I think the mentality of Catholic thought is going to continue evolving even more rapidly than it is now and it’s all for the good.”
Emeritus Bishop of Victoria Remi de Roo said there is “ferocious debate” over whether Pope Benedict XVI is moving the church backward or forward. “But I would rather not waste my energy on that kind of discussion. I respect the office and the person in the office so we need to pray for the pope. His is an almost impossible task.”
(Account written by James Buchok, Prairie Messenger)