Vatican II still offers renewal for Church
The 'winds of change' ushered in 50 years ago still invigorate people of God
The main call of Vatican II (1962-1965) is “aggiornamento” or renewal, the renewal of the Church. The pope called on the Church, the people of God, to open its windows wide for a "new wind" to enter and to pave the way for genuine transformation. There is supposed to be transformation in the Church's theology, ecclesiology, sacraments, missiology, pastoral orientation and direction, social ministry, liturgy, formation of priests and the laity, social communication, unity with other Christian Churches, inter-religious dialogue, among others. But has the wind really blown? I was a young provincial boy in the southern Philippines when Vatican II first began to stir. From being an altar boy I became a catechist and later an active organizer of basic Christian communities (BCC). The Church in Mindanao was serious in embracing the concepts of inculturation, inter-religious dialogue and the empowerment of the laity. The birth of the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference in the 1970s was a response to Vatican II’s call for renewal. The "apostolic Church" became a model of 'being Church' during those days. The life of early Christian communities described in the Acts of the Apostles inspired the BCC or the neighborhood Church. During my formation as a religious I had the opportunity to immerse and integrate myself with various communities. I witnessed the emergence of BCCs that later became the foundation of the idea of priests as servant-leaders and of lay people's strong participation in parishes and dioceses. The "new wind" refreshed the Church in the Philippines as seen by the active participation of the faithful in pastoral ministries and in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church. In 1991, the Philippine Church affirmed Vatican II’s call for newness when the Church in the Philippines declared that it is a "Church of the Poor." The "new wind" became the new Pentecost for Filipino Catholics. The Spirit that touched the apostles and Mary was the same Spirit that made Vatican II happen 50 years ago and made the Philippine Church follow the path of renewal during the Philippine Plenary Council 20 years ago. This year we mark the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. Can we now say that the Church has completely renewed itself? We are on the right path and the "new wind" continues to blow. In the Philippines, we continue to breathe it in and out of our lives as the people of God. Fr Christian B. Buenafe is the Commissary General of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines and Papua New Guinea.