The other day, I met a Catholic school principal who told me her school is a “Vatican II school.” I asked her what makes it so and—no joke—she showed me some balloons and banners. 

“No respect,” Rodney Dangerfield might have said as he worried his tie, “no respect.” These words come to mind as I think about the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Not only has the Council been blamed for much of the apostasy in today’s Church, but it has been remarkably misunderstood. Now, this is true for many Councils: they’re only appreciated in the long run and, in “Church time,” the Second Vatican Council would still be considered a recent event. Still, it may be time to reclaim the council and its intentions, and give it some respect, starting in the schools. 

A level of uncertainty about the council is understandable. Highly intelligent people were confused about what was going on. Yves Congar wrote in his journal: “Toward the end of 1964, the French minister of education, Christian Fouchet, said to Bishop Elchinger of Strasbourg, ‘You are doing a bad job at the Council. You are calling everything into question. What was true yesterday is no longer true today.’” 

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