30Jan 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)


4 Responses

  1. Mary O Vallely

    Yes, fundamentalism frightens the life out of me. I came across these words from the great Vatican 11 theologian Yves Congar.
    “What we need is a dialogue… and dialogue has two enemies: one is monologue, where only one voice speaks; the other is disorder, where everyone talks at once.”
    “God is the author of peace, not disorder.” (1.Cor. 14:33) Fundamentalism is that monologue, isn’t it? A shutting of the ears to listen to the other. Mind you, I/we need to heed the second enemy as well!
    Been reflecting on this after listening to Derry’s 1st Presbyterian Minister, David Latimer, speaking to a small group in Armagh last night. He talked of re-adjusting our mindsets and of the hurt and feeling of being “frozen out” of the City of Culture that the Protestants in Derry are experiencing. Phil Coulter has written a new anthem for the city and in one verse he refers to the city as “Derry” and in the 2nd verse he uses “Londonderry” (the 3rd verse it’s back to “Derry!) but it’s a reaching out, isn’t it? A compromise,an adjusting of a mindset, an opening of the windows as John XX111 wanted. I certainly hadn’t thought of using anything but “Derry” to refer to the Maiden city but if it helps to build bridges or heal divisions it is a small step and may not be so insignificant.
    What a lovely man Remi de Roo is and he is right about women theologians bringing “heart” to the discussion (thinking of our own Mary McAleese) though I’m not sure I share his optimism about our present Pope going forward.
    Still, back to Congar who advocated patience and to Romero’s planting seeds “that one day may grow.”
    Thank you for posting this. It’s all soil for the seed, eh?
    Mary V

  2. Darlene Starrs

    Bishop Remi DeRoo is one of the most inspiring people, you would ever want to hear!
    He was not an archbishop, but an auxillary bishop, and a young one when he was at the Council. He never became an Archbishop, largely because he “prophetically espoused” Vatican II. I heard him in Calgary, in 2005, just a small crowd gathered in a church. I will never, ever, ever, forget his presentation on Vatican II. It was so uplifting and it gave me hope for a very long time. You mention the seed and the soil Mary. Today’s gospel is the parable of the sower………This also being the week of the celebration of St. Brigid and with all the comments on this website, leads me to believe, that “Ireland” and it’s devout Catholic followers of Christ remain good soil, soil, that St. Brigid from heaven smiles at and is more than willing to intercede to make sure the “seed” grows into the maturity of Christ.

  3. Pól Ó Duibhir

    Did he mean the Pope is an almost impossible task or has an almost impossible task?
    I wonder is it a case of the latter giving rise to the former?

  4. Anne kelly

    I respect the office and the person in the office so we need to pray for the pope. His is an almost impossible task.

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