Collationes: Vlaams Tijdschrift voor Theologie en Pastoraal issue:4 pages:363-379
In this article we first pay attention to the pope’s speech as a key moment for the start of the Council. Indeed, the preparation of the Council had not been a great success and many did not expect much from the Council. We also show how the pope during the period before the opening developed more and more in the direction of a courageous aggiornamento. Then, we present a careful analysis of the speech. The main concerns of the pope clearly were: the challenges for the Church and the world in a time of changes and transitions; the need to adjust the doctrine to the needs and hopes of the faithful in the beginning of the sixties without changing it; an attitude of compassion and mercy towards the erring ones instead of the pronunciation of hard condemnations; the longing for unity. Next, we show that the speech was very well received by most of the Council fathers: many found inspiration in the words of the pope when they themselves took the floor. Finally, we conclude that the pope’s speech cannot be considered as a detailed plan for the Council but as an attempt to offer an open and attractive framework within which the fathers in all freedom should cope with the challenges of the Church and the world of that time.