St. Peters

Vatican II:
Celebrating 50 years

November 22 - November 28

On Friday November 22, 1963, the Council approved the schema on the liturgy with a vote of 2,158 in favor, 19 against, and 1 invalid vote. This was the first document approved by the Council since it had opened in 1962. After initial controversy regarding the use of Latin, agreement grew progressively until it reached this remarkable majority.

The Constitution on the Liturgy established the place of Scripture in liturgical worship, proclaimed that there was a need and right for greater participation of the people in the Church's worship, and established the duty of Bishops' conferences to adapt the Church's worship to local realities. Thus, some themes of the Council come to the fore in this first document: ecumenism, the laity, collegiality, and aggiornamento.

In the evening of November 22, news reached Rome that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Gloom and shock fell over the city. Flags were flown at halfmast and crowds filed into the American Embassy on Via Veneto to pay their respects and sign the registers, twenty-one of which were filled.

Hannah Arendt in The New York Review of Books remarked:

There is a curious and infinitely sad resemblance between the death of the two greatest men we have lost during this year the one very old, the other in the prime of life. Both the late Pope and the late President died much too soon in view of the work they initiated and left unfinished. The whole world changed and darkened when their voices fell silent. And yet the world will never be as it was before they spoke and acted in it.


Vatican II