Pilgrims at Vatican II Mass highlight openness to world

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council with a Mass outdoors was a reminder of the fact that the council called the Catholic Church to live and work in the world, said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz.

“One of the things that was beautiful today was that we were outdoors, outside the beautiful Basilica of St. Peter, which is what I think John XXIII really wanted: to open the doors, to have the church in the world and transforming the world,” the bishop said Oct. 11.

The Second Vatican Council resulted in a new emphasis on the importance of every member of the church and a new openness to different peoples and cultures, said some of the bishops and pilgrims who attended Pope Benedict XVI’s Mass to mark the anniversary of the council.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai told Catholic News Service that for Catholics in India the council’s teaching on interreligious dialogue “was extremely important and gave us a whole new perspective on how to deal with everybody else,” recognizing “that everybody is searching for the truth; we are brothers and sisters on the same journey.

Of course, from the pastoral point of view,” the cardinal said, “I thought the whole concept of the church being the whole people of God — that was fantastic. That is exactly what cheers my heart; we are all the people of God.”

Vatican II called on bishops and priests “to empower the laypeople, guide them and inspire them, being alongside them so all of us together can work on this great project of new evangelization,” Cardinal Gracias said.

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