Tue, 10/12/2021 - 10:52am

On October 11, the Church celebrated the memorial of Saint John XXIII, Pope.  This date was chosen since it is the day on which he opened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.   In his famous opening message, Pope John XXIII noted:

“In calling this vast assembly of bishops, the latest and humble successor to the Prince of the Apostles who is addressing you intended to assert once again the magisterium (teaching authority), which is unfailing and perdures until the end of time, in order that this magisterium, taking into account the errors, the requirements, and the opportunities of our time, might be presented in exceptional form to all men throughout the world.

“It is but natural that in opening this Universal Council we should like to look to the past and to listen to its voices, whose echo we like to hear in the memories and the merits of the more recent and ancient Pontiffs, our predecessors. These are solemn and venerable voices, throughout the East and the West, from the fourth century to the Middle Ages, and from there to modern times, which have handed down their witness to those Councils. They are voices which proclaim in perennial fervor the triumph of that divine and human institution, the Church of Christ, which from Jesus takes its name, its grace, and its meaning.”

(For a full text of the opening message of Vatican II, please visit:

Nearly sixty years hence and not unlike Saint John XXIII, Pope Francis is calling forth the voices of the Church.   


A vademecum is a “guidebook”  which will be on hand and consulted throughout the process.  The term comes from the Latin – “go with me.”

The preliminary document contains a diocesan process.  It is also being adapted for various Catholic organizations, religious communities, and religious conferences.  For more information, please consult the links below.



For suggestions for the opening Masses in Dioceses on October 17, please see the latest edition of the BCDW Newsetter, Sepetmber 2021, pages 33-34.



  • There is no need to create another church, but to create a different church,” Pope Francis (quoting the words of Yves Congar O.P., one of the great theologians of the Second Vatican Council).  Pope Francis made this remark on October 9, in his talk to a gathering of more than 200 cardinals, bishops, clergy, religious and laity from all over the world.
  • “I am certain the Spirit will guide us and give us the grace to move forward together, to listen to one another and to embark on a discernment of the times in which we are living, in solidarity with the struggles and aspirations of all humanity.”
  • The synod is “not a parliament nor a survey of opinions,” rather it is, “an ecclesial moment whose protagonist is the Holy Spirit.” He insisted, “Without the Spirit, there is no synod.”
  • He prayed that it would bring unity in the church. Quoting St. Cyprian, he said, “We must maintain and firmly uphold this unity, above all among ourselves, the bishops who preside in the church, in order to demonstrate that the episcopate is itself one and undivided.”
  • The synod has three key words: “communion, participation and mission.” He recalled that the Second Vatican Council “taught that ‘communion’ expresses the very nature of the church, while pointing out that the church has received ‘the mission’ of proclaiming and establishing among all peoples the kingdom of Christ and of God, and is, on earth, the seed and beginning of that kingdom.”
  • He recalled that St. Paul VI, who guided the council’s last three sessions, explained that communion entails “cohesion and interior fullness, in grace, truth and collaboration,” while mission means “apostolic commitment to the world of today.”



Q. Pope Francis has made synodality the central focus over the next two years for the renewal of the church worldwide, but it doesn’t seem to have gained much traction in many dioceses of the United States. How important do you think synodality is for the renewal of the Catholic Church?

A. I think synodality is a moment and a movement of profound opportunity, which invites us at all levels to understand that when we undertake action together, when we set goals, when we discern where God is calling us, we need to do so in a way which honors the participation of everybody.

I remember the Gallup Organization did a survey, maybe 20 years ago, which asked the question, why do people come to church? The criterion that made a difference regarding why they keep coming was if they feel they would be missed if they don’t. In other words, the people around them in the pews would miss them. What that boils down to is people feel they count in the life of the church. To me synodality is trying to accomplish an ecclesial life where people feel they count at all levels in the life of the church.