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Reflecting the Mind of the
Vatican since 1850
The Principles of Discernment of the Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council (1962-65) recovered a deep vision of the Church, reflected on religious liberty, relations with other Christians, relations with the Jewish people, as well as other issues. What principles guided the council’s discernment in its decision-making? This article will seek to respond by looking at the final texts of the council, rather than at the history of their composition and subsequent reception.

“Religiously hearing the Word of God and faithfully proclaiming it,” are the first words of Dei Verbum (DV), the dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, promulgated on November 18, 1965, by which the council describes its stance. With an eye on the transmission of divine revelation, the same constitution states that the magisterium “listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully” the Word of God.

In short, “the teaching office is not above the Word of God, but serves it” (DV 10). The final chapter observes that the Church “has always maintained them, [the divine Scriptures] and continues to do so, together with sacred tradition, as the supreme rule of faith,” (DV 21).
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