Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Bishop Cupich discusses Vatican II impact in lecture at Creighton University

Story and photo by David Gouger, The Catholic Voice

(From the April 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)

Bishop Blase Cupich discusses the legacy of the Second Vatican Council during a March 7 speech at Creighton University in Omaha. (The Catholic Voice photo)

(Editor’s note: This story and photo originally appeared in the March 22, 2013 edition of The Catholic Voice, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Omaha, Neb., and are reprinted by permission.)

Bishops developed a new school of thought during Vatican II about their identity and ministry in the life of the church, said Omaha native Bishop Blase Cupich.

Bishop Cupich spoke to about 140 people March 7 at Creighton University in Omaha as part of the university’s ongoing observance of the Second Vatican Council’s 50th anniversary.

He focused on two of the council documents, Lumen Gentium (“The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”) and Christus Dominus (“The Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops”), while discussing the bishops as “apprentices at the school of the Holy Spirit,” a term he credited to a young priest who published a series of pamphlets after each session called “Theological Highlights of Vatican II.”

“You may have heard of him,” Bishop Cupich said, “his name is Joseph Ratzinger” (now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

Among other things, the documents said a bishop is a vicar of Christ, the ordinary and immediate pastor of his particular church by virtue of ordination. Regarding collegiality, bishops belong to a college that is a successor of the apostles, and, together with the bishop of Rome, have responsibility for the governance of the universal church.

Of course, the apprenticeship had its stages, and it took bishops time to understand the shift in thinking, Bishop Cupich, 64, said. He said early drafts of various documents were heavily criticized, with debates about the relationship between the pope and the bishops and the bishops and the Holy See and Roman Curia.

Still, he said, the bishops made it clear very quickly that a different style of council and new ways of being a church and a bishop would emerge. It was “a reawakening of the church among the bishops,” said Bishop Cupich, quoting Benedict XVI.

And that reawakening extends beyond the bishops, said Bishop Cupich, who was ordained for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975. It is reflected in a collegial style of governance in parish councils and diocesan pastoral councils, the awareness in lay people who realize they are the presence of the church in exercising their ministry and among bishops who recognize the unique gifts that all people have to offer the universal church, he said.

Even the gathering at Creighton about Vatican II is a manifestation of how that legacy is alive, Bishop Cupich said, as Benedict XVI, in calling for a Year of Faith, urged reflection and study of the documents from the Second Vatican Council.

“We’re all here together in apprenticeship, we’re all learners,” he said. “But we’re also here because of a communion we enjoy – a common concern and love for the church.”

Part of the council’s legacy is the work left to be done, said Bishop Cupich, who served as bishop of Rapid City, S.D., before being appointed to the Spokane Diocese in 2010. He cited examples such as questions among cardinals before the conclave about church governance to the challenges in getting people to think beyond their own parish to the universal church.

Continuing the legacy requires humility, patience, being open to learning and taking the next step together in unity, Bishop Cupich said.

“We know as the council fathers did that the spirit of Christ is with us, and we should always be ready with great expectation to believe that great things are about to happen,” he said.

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