Religion: Summons from Rome

The Latin parchment document of the papal bull began in the traditional way: "John, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God." Thus, on Christmas morning, Pope John XXIII was to convoke Vatican Council II—potentially an event in Roman Catholic history on the order of the Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople or Trent.

Vatican officials have been busy with preparations ever since Pope John said in January 1959 that he intended to call the church's first council since Vatican Council I in 1869-70, and the 20th since Nicaea in 325. As a start, every Catholic bishop in the world was asked what topics the...

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