Reading the Signs of the Times: An Ongoing Task of the Church in the World

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Book Chapter

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In calling the Second Vatican Council, Pope John XXIII invited the Church not only to renew herself but also to renew her relationship to the world so as to be of better service to the entire human family on its journey to God. The Council was to do this by understanding better the great events occurring in history and by listening to the voice of the Lord in these signs of the times. In so doing, the Council gave the Church a continuing way to assess its mission in the world. The primary purpose of this chapter will be to examine how the bishops at the Vatican Council read the signs of the times in their historical context. It will also briefly describe several other examples of how this method of theological reflection has been used since the Council and will draw some conclusions for the ongoing work of the Church in the world. What did the bishops mean when they used the term “signs of the times”? It seems to me that what they meant were those significant events, phenomena, or movements that characterize an era and that bring about or reveal new awareness and, therefore, call forth new action in human history.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.