April 13th-15th, 2015: Conference "Vatican II: A historical Event - the Stakes for today. The Gospel in the Face of Cultures"

From April 13th to 15th, 2015, fifty years after the end of the council, an international conference took place in Paris that tried to bring the Second Vatican Council and our present into a configuration which would shed new light onto the council as well as our age. The initiative and the preparation of the event was undertaken by a scientific committee to which Christoph Theobald (Paris), Mathijs Lamberigts (Leuven), Gilles Routhier (Québec), Pedro Rubens Ferreira Oliveira (IFCU President, International Federation of Catholic Universities / Recife), Guy-Réal Thivierge (IFCU Secretary General) und Philippe Chenaux (Rome) are associated.

The modus operandi of the conference was especially interesting: Five central questions were elaborated and sent to theologians from all around the world. Whoever wished to participate in the project had to put together a team of around four people independently in order to write a text to one of the given topics. The texts were collected, assembled and sent out by a committee, there was the possibility to comment on them and finally the team leaders gathered in autumn of 2014 in Paris. Certain passages of the texts were chosen and reviewed and reassembled in one text that was sent out to all participants. All of those involved in the elaboration of the text were finally invited to a gathering that took place in April 2015 in the house of the French episcopal conference in Paris. Around ninety people accepted the invitation: men and women, especially from the fields of dogmatics, fundamental theology and ecclesiastical history, whereby the internationality was particularly impressive. Austria was represented by Kurt Appel (together with Isabella Guanzini and Jakob Deibl, Vienna) and Hans-Joachim Sander (Salzburg). On the first day the texts linked to the five topics were presented, which was followed by a response by someone who had not participated in the preparation of the text in question. Subsequently a discussion took place which was held in a very lively manner and in the course of which extendable or missing points as well as minor or fundamental changes could be incorporated. On the following day those propositions were discussed in groups and the texts were changed so that they could be presented and discussed again in their new form on the last day. That way a new text – with all its strengths, weaknesses and difficulties – emerged that does not refer to one identifiable author anymore. This modus operandi which distinctly differed from conferences consisting of prepared lectures, their ensuing discussion and the subsequent publication is certainly oriented towards the collegial work procedure of the Council itself.

The five central topics were (in their final version): 1) The Second Vatican Council: prophetic inspiration for the present; 2) Signs of the present time; 3) The Gospel and the Church in the world in relation to the cultures; 4) The cultivation of a culture of peace: an inevitable task; 5) Theology in the shape of the pastoral. Through this event (academic) theology wished to show itself in its internationality and to contribute to a creative continuation of the Council which might launch further discussions.