CNS documentary, ‘Voices of Vatican II,’ available free online

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — To help mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Catholic News Service has shared with the public a documentary featuring interviews with council participants.

Titled “Voices of Vatican II: Participants Recall the Council,” the 50-minute documentary was released in 2015 only on DVD, but it was posted Nov. 3 on YouTube.

A photo montage including Sts. John XXIII and Paul VI and the scene inside St. Peterís Basilica during the Second Vatican Council was the cover art for the DVD edition of the Catholic News Service documentary, “Voices of Vatican II: Participants Recall the Council.” CNS has released the 50-minute documentary to the public on YouTube. (CNS photo)

With archival footage and exclusive interviews with prelates who attended the council sessions between its opening in 1962 and closing in 1965, the film pieces together firsthand accounts of that historic era and its impact on the church today.

The entire narration is supplied by 12 bishops and priests who took part in the council, including Pope Benedict XVI, who gave an unscripted talk about the council to Rome’s clergy in 2013.

“Off we went to the council not just with joy but with enthusiasm,” he said in that talk. “There was an incredible sense of expectation. We were hoping that all would be renewed, that there would truly be a new Pentecost, a new era of the church, because the church was still fairly robust at that time — Sunday Mass attendance was still good, vocations to the priesthood and to religious life were already slightly reduced, but still sufficient. However, there was a feeling that the church was not moving forward, that it was declining, that it seemed more a thing of the past and not the herald of the future.”

In that speech, the now-retired pope also observed, “There was the council of the Fathers — the real council — but there was also the council of the media.”

The documentary — available at — allows viewers to hear from the participants themselves.

Since the original release of the film, several of those interviewed have died, including: Cardinals Loris Capovilla, Georges Cottier and Roger Etchegaray; Bishops John C. McNabb, William J. McNaughton and Remi De Roo; and Paulist Father Thomas Stransky.

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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