The Lost War of the Vatican
On the 50th anniversary of Vatican II this program revisits the historic three year council that changed the Catholic Church, and examines the ongoing repercussions of its reforms.
Just after being named Pope in 1958 John XXIII astonished the Cardinals who’d elected him by announcing his intention to convene a great Council in Rome to re-unite and renovate the church for the modern world. The Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965) brought 3000 cardinals, bishops, clergy and religious from across the world to Rome. Combining interviews and extraordinary archive, this episode relives the excitement of Vatican II, the resistance to it from within, and the many reforms it triggered.
As soon as the Second Vatican Council was over the backlash began. Vatican II divided the Catholic hierarchy between reformers who thought the church didn't go far enough, and traditionalists who believed the reforms it triggered would destroy the church. In Vatican II's aftermath, discussion of contraception, matrimonial morality, the rights of priests to marry, and the role of women in the church, were shut down by Rome. When the priestly paedophilia scandal broke, the church was rocked to its core but has remained intractable, closing in on itself: the promise of Vatican II unfulfilled with some calling it a 'bad memory'.