For the three years preceding the Second Vatican Council, and all during that council, Roman Catholics added to the prayers after Mass (does anyone remember those?) Pope John XXIII’ s “Prayer to the Holy Spirit” for the council’s success. Day after day the church prayed, “O Holy Spirit, renew thy wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost.”
Pope John dreamed that through the council the Holy Spirit’s gifts would flow abundantly upon the whole church for the benefit of the entire world, because the Spirit alone has the capacity to change hearts from within, not by external force but by interior persuasion.
Today, however, the church is divided over just how much of a Pentecost Vatican II actually turned out to be. It is likewise divided over what kind of church we are. This article will explore some of the consequences of this ambiguity.
The church’s focus