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An Invitation to Learn the Second Vatican Council
Especially Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes

The Year of Faith (October 2012 ~ November 2013) announced by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, has concluded.
Since this Council continued for four years with four sessions, the next two years (2014 and 2015) will also be a time to contemplate the fruits of the Council.

The Second Vatican Council intended to present to the world the new reality of the Church that had grown throughout the world since the First Vatican Council. Blessed Pope John XXIII, sensing that society had been largely transformed and faced great risks after the two World Wars of the twentieth century, decided to summon the Second Vatican Council, convinced of the necessity for the Catholic Church to contribute toward solving several issues facing people in the modern world. As soon as the Council began, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council realized that the Church had withdrawn from society and they admitted that the Church had a unique role to play in society. Even today, 50 years after the Council, the Catholic Church continues to face these challenges. The Church is called to return to the Second Vatican Council痴 spirit of modernization (aggiornamento in Italian) and to be renewed once again in order to actively bear witness to Christ.
Last year, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan thoroughly revised and published the official translations of the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council. Four major Constitutions among them, namely the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) were published as separate booklets.
We, the bishops of Japan, continue to invite all of you in the Church of Japan to read the official documents of the Second Vatican Council and learn their spirit and teaching in order to find out what the Council was about and its significance for the modern world.
First of all, during the two years 2014 and 2015 let us especially read Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes.
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) declared that the Church is the People of God, and viewed the Church as 鍍he universal sacrament of salvation in the world.
The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) presented the principles underlying why such a Church is engaged in social affairs, shed the light of the Gospel on various social problems and for the first time spoke to all of humanity about guidelines for solving critical challenges.
We encourage all of you throughout Japan to create opportunities to learn Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes.

February 17, 2014
Peter Takeo OKADA, President
Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan

(This statement was reported during the Extraordinary Plenary Assembly of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan held in February 2014.)

... Click here for Japanese original


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