Reflecting on the call of Vatican II

By Corinne Winter

Corinne Winter

The celebration of Pentecost this month makes this a good time to reflect on the call of Vatican II to attend to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit (pneumatology). During the time just before the Council, the Orthodox had become active in ecumenical dialogue. A key point to which the Orthodox kept returning in that context was their sense that Western Christians did not have an active sense of the Holy Spirit. They saw Catholics and Protestants as focused instead on the ongoing work of Christ in his body, the Church, and thus on historical connections with Jesus.
The belief that we, as Church, are joined in the body of Christ is important and has a good foundation in Scripture. It also can be understood as inclusive of a certain pneumatology since it is the Holy Spirit who joins us to Christ. Still, many bishops and theologians leading up to and participating in the Council took to heart the Orthodox observation as well as the example of the nascent charismatic movement and called for much more explicit attention to the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Church.

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