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October 29, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 26


photo: Father Kevin O’Brien, left, with Bishop Donald Trautman at Holy
Spirit Church in Virginia Beach.
Father Kevin O’Brien, left, with Bishop Donald Trautman at Holy Spirit Church in Virginia Beach.

Inner workings of Vatican II required much ‘homework’

Bishop Donald Trautman Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Erie, was the opening speaker for “Open Wide the Doors!,” a series celebrating the events and teachings of the Second Vatican Council at the Church of St. Thérèse in Chesapeake.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and the opening of the Year of Faith, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Trautman also spoke at St. Edward parish in Richmond the night before on the same topic.

Bishop Trautman began by describing how, as a young priest studying in Rome, he assisted at all the sessions of the Second Vatican Council. He would escort bishops to the microphones to speak, and assisted with balloting on decisions.

He told stories of discussing issues with various bishops on a number of topics, and the “inner workings” of the Council.

The bishop said he was particularly struck by the obvious movement of the Holy Spirit at the Council. In various discussions before the Council actually convened, Pope John XXIII often said that it was time to “open the windows of the Church to let in some fresh air.” Bishop Trautman observed that many bishops arrived expecting the council to be a quick rubber stamping of the old, and found themselves “doing a lot of homework,” to keep up with the significant updating that the Council became.

A noted liturgist, he also discussed the vision of the Council for reform of the Liturgy, and ecclesiology. In both cases, Bishop Trautman noted the need for balance between our “transcendent” and “imminent” images of God.

Vatican II, he said, called for a liturgy that emphasized the God among us in the worshipping assembly, while still acknowledging God as calling us to something greater.

In the question and answer session afterwards, Bishop Trautman was asked, “What should be covered in Vatican III?”

With a smile, he answered, “First, we have to implement the reforms of Vatican II.”

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