Roman Catholic Theology and Modern Culture


Describe the rethinking of Catholic theology by Rahner and Küng who sought to develop a new Catholic theology that is relevant to contemporary culture.

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The most important event which occurred during the time period of 20th century is the formation of the second Vatican Council under the principles of the Roman Catholic Church and the theological guidelines of the Roman Catholic beliefs. It was during the time period of 1962-1965 when the Vatican Council under the reign of Pope John XXIII assembled in four distinct sessions (Baker, 1981).

This newly conceived Vatican Council showcased itself as the organization which is considered to be actively engaged in the different issues related to the modern world. The immediate and most prominent alteration which was put forward by the Vatican Council was to establish the principles which serve to guide the modern civilized society with positive perspective. On the contrary it is to be noted that the previously formed Councils under the beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church were embedded with more restricted and conservative views towards the orientations of the existing society. Hence it is worthy to comment that the liberal ideologies of the Vatican Council II, was sharp contrast with the conservative perspectives and principles of the Councils which were formed in the past. According to the evidences obtained from various journals, it is known that during the presence of Pope Pius the text of 1864 Syllabus of Errors which was documented in 1870 during the first Vatican Council and also the document of Humani Generi of 1950 displayed more defensive and conservative approach towards the modernization of the civilized society. On the other hand the newly formed principle under the II Vatican II Council represented sharp and total reversed approach with more liberal perspectives towards the orientation of the society (Baker, 1981). Down the ages, different popular theologian like Henri de Lubac, Karl, Yves Congar, Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Kung reviewed the principles of the Vatican Council, whose work were considered suspicious.

It is notable to state that the remarkable and distinct variation which took place during the ear of Vatican II Council was inclined towards the enhanced modernization of the existing civilized society and also considerable focused on certain important social features. Among the other variations which surfaced during that time period was the acceptance to a certain level by the Council compared to that of the strict doctrine forwarded by the Catholic Roman Church towards the positive appraisal considering both non-Catholic Christians and the population who had faith on the other religion than Christianity. In this way, the Vatican II Council opened new avaenues for the conglomeration of different views from different other religions.

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The next major documented variation which was known to occur was the newer approach of understanding the role of the laity in the Catholic Church. The involvement of the Laity was associated with the active participation in he liturgy and were also committed towards addressing the political and economic issues of the society.  Apart from this, emphasis was also giver towards the strengthening of the views which were attached with the dignity of the human beings and the liberalization in terms of religion (Hyman, 1999).

The famous German theologian, Karl, observed closely the changes which occurred in the Catholic Church of Rome, which also emphasized a “qualitative leap” in becoming a “world church.” Hence, it is worthy to mention that the Vatican II successfully established itself as the “world church” in the pages of Catholic history.

According to the evidences cited from the literature, it is revealed for many theologian, the newly conceived approach of the Council towards the greater liberalization of the modern society was not only an important progress but also was a initiation towards a new development.

Criticisms: The approaches which were forwarded by the Vatican II Council also encountered numerous criticisms as for many Catholic believers were not spiritually and emotionally prepared to accept such sudden variation of the principles under the Catholic domain. Therefore, some degree of uncertainty   remained visible in the alteration made by the Vatican II Council (Hyman, 1999).

Continued effect with answered questions:

It is prominently visible that the Council was successful in embedding certain positive perspectives although being encountered with a vast range of social challenges and achieved some extent of unity and solidarity. As an example, it was observed that John Paul II paid his respect towards Ghandi and was had a in person interaction with Dalai Lama (Garrigan, 2013).


Citing various affects of the newly formed beliefs of Vatican II Council, it was seen that the Council also participated in forming a better hospitable work ambience which was in sharp contrast with the past teachings of the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church during the era of Vatican II Council was greatly influenced by the liberal perspectives of the Council which forwarded a distinctive example in the history of the Catholic Church of Rome (Mos, 2005)

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Baker, C. (1981). Tennyson’s Religious Opinions. Theology Today, 38(3), pp. 369-372.

Garrigan, S. (2013). Irish Theology as White Theology: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Modern Theology, 30(2), pp. 193-218.

Hyman, G. (1999). Book Review: Critical Terms for Religious Studies. Theology, 102(809), pp. 374-375.

Mos, L. (2005). Psychology’s Contribution to Religious Studies. rsth, 24(2).