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Vatican II: A Research Guide: Introduction


Click the button above to visit the Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) website, home of the Catholic Portal, a catalog of rare, unique, and uncommon Catholic scholarly materials in the library collections of the over 40 member institutions of the CRRA. An ever-growing number of the items listed may contain links to the full-text!

CRRA has a growing collection of subject guides to assist users of their website in doing research. Click the link below to see these subject guides.

CRRA Subject Guides


The developer of this page wishes to acknowledge the work of Noel S. McFerran, of the Kelly Library at St. Michael's College of the University of Toronto. His Research Guide to Vatican II provided a great store of ideas for resources to include on this LibGuide. Many thanks.


Just three months after his election as pope, John XXIII announced his intention to call an ecumenical council for the renewing of the Church. John used the word aggiornamento, or "updating, " to express what he hoped to see accomplished, an updating that would help the Church perform its mission of evangelization in the modern world and foster unity among Christians.

This, the Second Vatican Council, was held in four sessions during the years 1962 through 1965. Bishops and theologians from around the world were in attendance. John J. Wright, Bishop of Pittsburgh, was one of the American representatives. According to the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, the issues discussed and debated by the Council included "divine revelation, the church, the liturgy, bishops' pastoral office, the ministry and life of priests, priestly formation, the laity, Christian education, religious life, Eastern Catholic churches, the church in the modern world, missionary activity, ecumenism, non-christian religions, religious freedom, and the communciations media" (p. 1189).

 In 1963, Pope John died, so according to canon law, the Council was suspended. But Paul VI, elected as John's successor, announced that the Council should continue.

The results of the Vatican II deliberations were 16 documents, the ideas from which have effected every aspect of faith and practice in the Roman Catholic Church. The effects continue to be felt to this day. Again, according to the Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, "Without taking account of the debates and resolutions of Vatican II, it is impossible to understand the modern Roman Catholic Church" (p. 1189).

This research guide, created to celebrate the 50th anniversay of the opening of Vatican II, is designed to guide researchers at all levels in exploring this complex and important topic in Church and world history.


Images are in the public domain and were downloaded from Wikimedia Commons (

Sources for text:

Stransky, Tom. "Vatican II (1962-1965)." Dictionary of the Ecumenical Movement, 2nd ed. Ed.Nicholas Lossky, Jose Migues Bonino, John Pobee, Tom F. Stransky, Geoffrey Wainwright and Pauline Webb. Geneva: WCC Publications, 2002. 1188-1189. Print.

"Vatican Council II." OSV's Encyclopedia of Catholic History, Revised edition. Ed. Matthew Bunson. Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, 2004.942-945. Print.

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