As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, it might be helpful to keep in mind developments after Pope John’s announcement of an ecumenical council on January 25, 1959. In my files I have a number of essays that provide some background, and I am making them available here. Some of them go into more detail than many will feel necessary, but others may find them illuminating.
The first discusses proposals for a council that were briefly entertained during the reigns of Popes Pius XI and Pius XII. Pius XI & Pius XII on a Council
The second discusses where Pope John may have gotten the idea of calling a council. John XXIII & Idea of a Council
The third discusses initial reactions to the announcement of a council, both in Rome and elsewhere. Initial reactions to announcement
The fourth describes some features of the first stage of the whole conciliar event, the antepreparatory period that ran from May 1959 to November 1960 when the preparatory period began. Antepreparatory period
The fifth are the simple notes I distributed to undergraduates and expanded on in a lecture on the movements of renewal in the Catholic Church earlier in the twentieth century, which made the Council possible. Movements of renewal
Finally, there is a very brief outline of the principal dates and events from the announcement of the Council to its conclusion. Vatican II – Dates & events