The Second Vatican Council brought the Church into the 20th century and set the blueprint for the Church’s globalization through the council’s proclamations. Unfortunately, Vatican II is a distant reality for many of the world’s Catholics simply because it occurred over 50 years ago, and the Church and the world have developed politically, socially and economically in a manner the Fathers of the Council could not have imagined.

Perhaps it is time to revisit the conciliar documents and review them in order to facilitate a revived and restored Church for the 21st century that is vibrant and new in order to proclaim the Word of God effectively in a post-Christian world. The world is a different place than 1960’s Rome. The threats of Marxist Communism have abated, Eastern Europe has emerged from the subjugation of totalitarianism and the Iron Curtain has rusted into ancient memories. In other parts of the world, Chinese Communism has liberalized and opened the doors to trade and normalization with the West and former foes are now allies. The critical threats envisioned in the 1960’s focused on tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States while nuclear war seemed imminent. The realities of today are quite different from the realities of the world that the Second Vatican Council considered in their deliberations and debates. The Church in the Modern World was the subject of one of the Council’s Constitutions, Gaudium et Spes, and the document is a great testimony to the vision and insights of the Church’s leaders of the 20th century. Now it is time to build on the framework of Vatican II and pragmatically implement the Council’s vision of a global Church, united in faith and motivated by the Pascal Mystery of Christ’s salvific life and transcendent presence. We need to go beyond the confines of the Second Vatican Council and forge a Church, present in a world transformed by economic, social and cultural revolutions, that reflects the pluralities of modern life without clinging to the outmoded models of the past.

The emergence of globalism reflects the place the Church needs to occupy. While the hierarchical structures of the Church have been effective in the past, it is time to embrace a new model that allows for collegiality among the Church’s leadership which should include not only members of the clergy but increasingly more leaders extracted from the Church’s laity. In a world of diversity, institutions such as the Church need to become more diverse in their leadership. A larger integration of the Church’s laity is critical for the success of the Church’s mission in the 21st century. The laity are the largest component of the Catholic Church’s membership and they have not been adequately represented in the Church’s hierarchy. The time is NOW to cultivate leadership in the Church from the many millions of faithful Catholics that are not part of the hierarchy of Holy Orders.

Much is often said about the need for the Church to achieve a true understanding of the power of globalism in the modern world. The Church is present in every country of the world. For the Church to make the most of the resources of globalism, dialectic relationships with all countries and all faith in order to proclaim the Church’s theological message and provide a sociological service to all peoples is advised. Perhaps it is best that the Church adopt multilateralism as part of its global mission. Such a paradigmatic shift would enable countries to best utilize their resources and set up a global platform of interdependence between the Church and the countries in which the Church is present. Such an integration would by nature unite both theological and secular interests for the common good of all peoples.

Perhaps the concept of multilateralism was seminal in Gaudium et Spes, when the Church outlined the role it would play in the modern world. After five decades of maturation it is time to renew deliberations on the hierarchical structure of the Church in the context of how the Church interacts with the laity, other nations and most importantly all the People of God. If the situations and global landscapes have changed since the convocation and conclusion of the Second Vatican Council considerations that study the Church’s political and theological structures are long overdue for review. The Church throughout the ages has always had the charism of adaptation to the situations of the world around Her and the 21st century is no different from the changes precipitated by the Councils of Trent and Vatican I and Vatican II. The blueprints and the foundational work have indeed been done with the decrees of Vatican II, it is only reasonable that the Church of 2018 utilize these documents to reinvigorate the Church of the 21st century in order to provide a global presence of the Church’s ministry as part of the communities of nations.

Global multilateralism might indeed offer the Church a renewed understanding of her soteriological nature while shining a new understanding of the Church’s mission in the post-conciliar era since Vatican II. Such a development in faith and efficacy is a logical progression of the hopes the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council envisioned and an existential extrapolation of Gaudium et Spes as it pertains to the Church of the 21st century.

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