Scholars Diving Into Personal Archives From Vatican II

Affirm That History Is a Teacher of Life

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A three-day conference beginning Wednesday will give international participants a look at the Second Vatican Council in Light of the archives from the council fathers.

The event is being hosted by the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences in collaboration with the Vatican Council II Centre for Research and Study of the Pontifical Lateran University. It was presented today in the Vatican press office.

Father Bernard Ardura, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, explained how a global project has been organized in view of the anniversary of Vatican II, involving an examination of the personal archives of the Council Fathers.

"Following the path laid down by Blessed Pope John XXIII in his opening address to the Council, all available archive material must be submitted to careful historical scrutiny, in order to ensure that people do not, as the Pope himself said, 'act as if they had nothing to learn from history, which is a teacher of life.' The consultation and publication of diaries, memories and correspondence of important figures who participated in Vatican Council II has already contributed to the development of an hermeneutic of the Council; ... that 'hermeneutic of reform in continuity' identified by Benedict XVI as the way to ensure authentic ecclesial interpretation.

"In this light", Fr. Ardura added, "we have begun researching the private archives of the Council Fathers, in order to identify and catalogue the documents they produced: diaries, notes on the various meetings of commission, ... and all the documents that may help us to understand how the Council Fathers experienced the great event, how they viewed it and how they reacted to the various opinions expressed".

Of the Council Fathers, 2,090 were from Europe and the Americas, while 408 were from Asia, 351 from Africa and 74 from Oceania. A large number of the latter came from mission lands and belonged to missionary institutions, for which reason much of their documentation is held in convents.