Vatican II: Everybody’s Talking about It

Sr Maryanne Confoy presenting at the eConference

By Dan McAloon

Vatican II: An Event of Grace National eConference

Broadcast Wednesday 10 October 2012

The themes of renewal, adaptation, ecumenism and mission that Vatican II laid out were articulated in a voice that was at once fresh and energising, said Bishop Michael Putney,  keynote speaker at the BBI-ACBC international eConference ‘Vatican II: An Event of Grace’, broadcast live on Wednesday 10 October.

The strong impetus on dialogue throughout Vatican II continues to impel us forward, said Bishop Putney. “Vatican II defined dialogue in ever widening circles”, he said. “Dialogue begins within the Church, reaches out to other Christians, to other believers in God, and to the rest of the world. Our mission is to share our relationship with God with others.”

“Right from Pope John XXIII’s first address to the Council the Church seems to be speaking with a new voice.  The description of the “the People of God” is used and our understanding of God is much richer because of the Council; the nature of the Trinitarian God and especially the Holy Spirit.”

“Vatican II assumed we are a Church that is willing to build new relationships with everybody, through dialogue. People ever since have been exhilarated with this vision, and not just Catholics. Dialogue is a way forward.”

The newest mode of dialogue ­- social media – also characterised ‘Vatican II: An Event of Grace’; the seventh eConference sponsored by The Broken Bay Institute in partnership with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

On the day, tens of thousands of people in parishes across Australia watched via internet streaming. Groups from 12 countries took part including Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji, Cambodia, Italy, Britain and the United States.  Four hundred new site registrations were received on the morning of the event alone.

Many used twitter to submit questions which host Mike Bailey posed to the speakers Bishop Putney, Sister Maryanne Confoy RSC, Mr Paul Power and Dr Jill Gowdie. Meanwhile a Facebook fan page has logged over 16,500 ‘likes’ and ‘talking about this’.

Just as the Holy Spirit at Pentecost appeared as tongues of fire that made the apostles’ words understood by people who spoke other languages, the legacy of Pope John XXIII’s “new Pentecost” continues to electrify the Catholic Church with the challenge of witnessing Christ’s teachings through open dialogue with believers and non-believers alike.

As one emailer enthusiastically wrote:  “Thank you for the eConference! Every speaker has said something that has touched my intellect, heart, soul, spirit. Thank you for enlivening and re-invigorating me for Vatican II and all that it does and can mean for me, my parish, the Church and the world.  John XXIII’s ‘window’ has been opened once again.”

The Director of The Broken Bay Institute, Dr Gerard Goldman said he was gratified that BBI’s contribution to The Year of Grace has been so well received. Past numbers of participants at the eConferences have exceeded 50,000.

“Incredibly, the eConferences are among the largest adult faith educational gatherings in the history of the Australian Church. We’re most grateful to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference for their partnership and to everyone, in parishes, at home, or at work who joined us on the day through the technology.”

“This is a wonderful example of the positive use of the new technology to bring people into communion and celebration of faith, and what a perfect way to see in the Year of Faith which officially begins tomorrow.” In 2013, he promised, BBI will be holding two new eConferences on topics to be announced soon.