On September 29, 1963, Pope Paul VI opened the second period of the Second Vatican Council, popularly known as Vatican II. Vatican II began in 1962 and did not officially end until 1968. It was the most ambitious reform and renewal of the Catholic Church since the Counter Reformation 500 years earlier.
 
Vatican II expanded the Catholic Church’s reconciliation and public outreach to members of other faiths, including Eastern Orthodox and Protestant denominations. Its teachings allowed Catholics to pray with other Christians and encouraged Catholics to respect and form friendships with people of other faiths. Vatican II also expanded the role of everyday Catholics—the laity, not just priests and bishops—in religious activities.
 
Perhaps the most famous outcome of Vatican II was its allowing churches to use local languages in their services. Prior to Vatican II, masses had always been celebrated in Latin. After Vatican II, masses were celebrated in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Zulu, and any other language of a congregation.
ambitious
Adjective

eager to achieve wealth, power, status, or a specific goal.

bishop
Noun

leader of a church's diocese.

Catholic
Adjective

having to do with the Christian denomination with the Pope as its leader.

Christian
Noun

people and culture focused on the teachings of Jesus and his followers.

congregation
Noun

group of people who worship at the same church.

council
Noun

group of people selected to act in an advisory, administrative, or legislative capacity.

Counter Reformation
Noun

(1545-1648) spiritual, social, and political response of the Catholic Church to the Protestant Reformation.

denomination
Noun

branch of a church or larger spiritual faith.

Eastern Orthodox
Noun

loose affiliation of several Christian denominations (including Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, etc.) which follow early church hierarchy.

encourage
Verb

to inspire or support a person or idea.

expand
Verb

to grow or get larger.

laity
Noun

all members of a religious organization that are not members of the clergy, or official leadership.

language
Noun

set of sounds, gestures, or symbols that allows people to communicate.

Latin
Noun

language of ancient Rome and the Roman Empire.

mass
Noun

central act of worship in the Catholic Church.

outcome
Noun

result.

pope
Noun

leader of the Catholic Church.

pray
Verb

to offer praise, worship, or other appeal to a spiritual deity.

priest
Noun

title of religious leader in many faiths.

prior
Adjective

before or ahead of.

Protestant
Noun

Christian who is not a follower of Catholic or Orthodox faiths.

public outreach
Noun

program by an organization to connect its work to other organizations or the general public.

reconciliation
Noun

process of accepting or no longer being opposed to something.

reform
noun, verb

change or improvement of a policy or process.

renew
Verb

to restore or begin again.

Vatican
Noun

authority and leadership of the pope and the Catholic Church.