The Teaching
of Vatican II
– Part 2

with Mark A. Brumley

Jun 6, 2023 07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada). Every week on Tuesday, until Jul 18, 2023, 6 occurrence(s)

Few events in the history of the modern Catholic Church have been as far-reaching as the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). And few have been as controversial. No one denies great changes have come about since the close of the Council. Have the changes been all good, all bad, or a mixture of both? To what extent were the changes, for good or ill, the result of the Council itself? This course explores how the teaching of Vatican II’s four Constitutions is developed and applied by the Council’s Decrees and Declarations.

The Second Vatican Council met from 1962 to 1965 in four sessions (October-December 1962, September-December 1963, September-November 1964, and September-December 1965). Sixteen major documents were produced: two dogmatic and pastoral constitutions, nine decrees and three declarations. The authoritative Latin text of each of these documents can be found in Norman P. Tanner’s  Decrees of the Ecumenical Council or on the Vatican website

The four major constitutions by date promulgated:
Sacrosanctum Concilium
, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, December 4, 1963.
Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, November 21, 1964.
Dei Verbum, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, November 15, 1965.
Gaudium et Spes, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, December 7, 1965.


This course explores how the teaching of Vatican II’s four Constitutions is developed and applied by the Council’s Decrees and Declarations. These documents present Catholic teaching and pastoral directives concerning 1) the various people of the Church (bishops, priests, laity, religious; Eastern Catholics); 2) the enrichment of the Church’s mission (missionary activity, social communications, and Christian education); and 3) Catholic relations with those not in full communion with the Church (ecumenism with other Christians, dialogue with other religious believers and nonbelievers) and religious liberty.


1.     The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II
a.     Online at the Vatican website:

b.     Print editions:

Vatican II: Volume 1: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Revised Edition, General Editor Austin Flannery, O.P., Liturgical Press, 1996. This edition includes all sixteen of the major documents of the Council, plus many significant “postconciliar” documents. The postconciliar documents, often interpret and apply the conciliar documents.
Documents of Vatican II: Vatican Translation, Alba House, 2009. This edition consists of only the 16 major Vatican II documents.
The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II, edited by Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP, with introductions by Douglas G. Bushman, S.T.L., Pauline Books, 1999. This edition includes helpful introductions to each of the 16 major documents. Probably the best single-volume presentation of the documents of Vatican II.

2.     “Benedict XVI, Vatican II, and the ‘Hermeneutic of Reform’”, Catholic World Report, June 29, 2020, and-the-hermeneutic-of-reform/


1.     Benedict XVI: A Life, Volume 1: Youth in Nazi Germany to the Second Vatican Council (1927-1965), Peter Seewald. Bloomsbury, 2020. See especially Part Three: The Council. Intermediate to advanced readers.

2.     Conciliar Octet: A Concise Commentary on the Eight Key Texts of the Second Vatican Council, Aidan Nichols, O.P., Ignatius Press, 2019. A relatively brief, yet highly readable overview of the four constitutions and four other significant documents from Vatican II (Decree on the Eastern Catholic Churches, Decree on Ecumenism, Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, and the Declaration on Religious Liberty). Beginners to advanced readers.

3.     The Disputed Teachings of Vatican II: Continuity and Reversal in Catholic Doctrine. Thomas G. Guarino, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2018. Intermediate to advanced readers.

4.     The Relevance and Future of the Second Vatican Council, Marc Cardinal Ouellet interviewed by Father Geoffrey de la Tousche. Ignatius Press, 2013. Interviews with the Vatican’s current prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, theologian and former Archbishop of Quebec. Beginners to advanced readers.

5.     Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, edited by Matthew L. Lamb and Matthew Levering, Oxford University Press, 2008. A collection of essays on the various documents and themes of the Second Vatican Council. Intermediate to advanced readers.


Session 1, June 6
7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Getting Started
1.        Introduction to the Course
2.        Background to Vatican II
3.        The Hermeneutic of the Council
4.        An Overview of Four Constitutions-on Liturgy, Revelation, the Church, and the Church and the Modern World
Session 2, June 13
07:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
The People of God
1.        Bishops: Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus)
2.        Priests
Decree on Priestly Training (Optatam Toitus)
Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests (Presbyterorum Ordinis)
Session 3, June 20
7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
The People of God (continued)
1.        Laity: Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity (Apostolic Actuositatem)
2.        Religious: Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life (Perfectae Caritatis)
3.        Eastern Catholicism: Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite (Orientalium Ecclesarium)
Session 4, June 27
7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
1.        Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes)
2.        Social Communications (Inter Mirifica)
3.        Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis)
Session 5, July 11
7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Relations with others
1.        Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio)

2.        Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate)
3.        Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae)
Session 6, July 18
7:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
1.     Conclusion
2.     Questions and Answers

The Teaching of Vatican II,
– Part 2 – Online Course

Register Here

"*" indicates required fields

We’d be very grateful if you would donate what you can to help keep this program going. We will turn down no one due to financial need. Your support helps us make these classes more accessible to more people. If you can’t afford to make a donation, just email Deacon Fred Totah at [email protected] and let him know you’d like a scholarship. No one will be turned down. No questions will be asked.

Donation Amount*
Please choose your donation (please be generous so we can liberally give scholarships out to those who need them):