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Surry Hills young adults dig for the roots of Vatican II

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Fr Matthew Baxter OP speaks at Surry Hills’ Vatican II Symposium. PHOTO: Cormac McCaughan

The young adults at St Peter’s, Surry Hills, have organised a symposium on the Second Vatican Council; an event and body of teachings that is still regarded as vexed and poorly understood, some 52 years after its final session.

In a series of Sunday talks throughout May and June, the parish is inviting people to ‘get inside’ the Council documents in order to understand exactly what vision the Council had of the Church, and what vision the Church had for the modern world.

The Symposium was launched on 7 May with a close reading of Pope St John XXIII’s opening address to the Council, followed by ‘Vatican II and the Role of the Laity’ by Dr James McCaughan on 14 May.

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Dr McCaughan drew largely from the Council Constitutions Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium.

He explained the Church’s vision for the laity “as active participants in the life of the Church,” drawing on his own experience both before and after the Council. Fr James Baxter OP delivered ‘Salvation Outside the Church’ on 21 May.

He situated the Council’s teaching on Salvation without the Church within the context of 2,000 years of Church teaching on the subject. He navigated through the teachings of St Paul and the early Church Fathers, through to St Thomas Aquinas and up to Pope Pius IX in the mid-nineteenth Century. This, he demonstrated, was an apt way to examine the Council’s statements in Lumen Gentium.

Still to come is Dr Jeremy Bell on May 28, speaking on ‘Religious Liberty in Dignitatis Humanae’; Sr Moira De Bono on June 4, tackling ‘Sacrosanctum Concilium and the Changes to the Liturgy’; Dr Robert Tilley on June 11, ‘Dei Verbum: The Council on Scripture’; and Fr Epeli Qimaqima on June 18, speaking on ‘Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium: The Church in the Modern World’.

The symposium will conclude on June 25 with a reflection on Pope Paul VI’s closing address to the Council.

All talks begin at 12.15pm, after 10.30am Mass and morning tea, and conclude at around 1.15pm.

The talks are free of charge, although for catering purposes please email [email protected] to express interest. All are welcome. More information:

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