Significant Vatican II document reaches 40th anniversary

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, top Catholic official for interreligious dialogue, speaks in Vatican II Lecture Series | February 2, 2005

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the top Catholic official for interreligious dialogue, is speaking about the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate and its continuing significance on Sunday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Schiff Family Conference Center.

Nostra Aetate, which translates to "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions," dramatically re-shaped Catholic attitudes toward and relations with people of other religious traditions. Paul Knitter, an internationally known expert in interreligious dialogue and professor emeritus at Xavier, offers a response to Fitzgerald's talk.

After receiving his doctorate in theology and teaching in Uganda and Italy, Fitzgerald became Secretary of the Secretariat for Non-Christians, which is now the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Pope John Paul II ordained him bishop in 1992, and 10 years later raised him to the rank of archbishop and appointed him president of this Pontifical Council. Fitzgerald has published numerous articles in journals, such as Concilium, Pro Dialogo, and Spiritus, and he co-authored the book Signs of Dialogue: Christian Encounter with Muslims. Among many other positions, Fitzgerald is also a member of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and member of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The talks are part of a series begun three years ago by the department of theology as a means of promoting a fuller understanding of the council’s achievements and impact of the council upon the contemporary life of the church. One event is scheduled each year for four years—the length of time the council originally met.

Award-winning author and journalist Robert Kaiser, who covered the Second Vatican Council for Time magazine, was the series’ first speaker, addressing the question, “Why Vatican II?” Fr. Joseph A. Komonchak, chair in religious studies at The Catholic University of America, spoke about “The Second Vatican Council: Gift and Unfinished Task.” Last year, Richard McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame and consultant to ABC News for papal events, delivered the talk, “The Papacy and Ecumenism Forty Years After Vatican II.:

The lecture is sponsored by the department of theology and the Edward B. Brueggeman center for dialogue. The event is free and open to the public.