Vatican II

The Second Vatican Council

The Second Vatican Council is the most significant and comprehensive reform effort of the Roman Catholic Church in past four hundred years. More than twenty-five hundred bishops worldwide, together with hundreds of theological experts, met each autumn from 1962 to 1965 to discuss, debate, and ultimately reform the teachings of the Catholic Church in twentieth century. In the end, the Council issued sixteen documents on topics dealing with virtually every aspect of the Church – the liturgy; the human person; the Church itself; the modern world; religious freedom; ecumenism; relations with other religions, etc. These issues not only have theological significance, they have social, political and cultural relevance as well.

The Church in Canada was also involved in Vatican II. Canadian bishops and theologians were active at the Council during all four sessions and individuals and networks of scholars were working during these years supporting them in a variety of ways. Canadian society and the Council intersect in two important ways: first, the attitudes (social, political, religious, and cultural) of those who contributed to the Council’s work were influenced by the values of Canadian society present in the decades leading up to the Council; and second, from 1965 onwards, the Council’s teachings have shaped every dimension of the Church’s life, which in turn has influenced Canadian Church and society.

 Institute for Research on Vatican II in Canada

The occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Council is thus an opportune time to launch an institute for research on Vatican II in Canada. As an academic centre in the context of Canada’s largest research university, the Institute:

  • gathers primary material related to the Council in Anglophone Canada and functions as a repository for this data;
  • supports and promotes advanced level research on Vatican II in Canada;
  • cultivates broad collaboration across academic disciplines in the University of Toronto in order to study the Council from a variety of perspectives; and,
  • disseminates the results of its research through academic conferences, colloquia, and scholarly publications.

At the same time, the scope of the Institute’s research interests extends to:

  • the social, cultural, political, religious and theological factors in Canada before the Council;
  • the participation of Anglophone Canadians in Vatican II; and,
  • the reception of the Council in Canada and its ongoing impact on Canadian Church and society.

 Other Related Projects

In Canada:

Vatican II et le Québec des années 1960
Université Laval, Québec

Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism
Saint Paul University, Ottawa


Herméneutique théologique du Concile Vatican II
Université catholique de Louvain

Centre for the Study of the Second Vatican Council
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

For more information, please contact:

Prof. Dr. Michael Attridge
Director of the Institute
Faculty of Theology
University of St. Michael’s College
81 St. Mary Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1J4
Telephone: 416-926-1300 x3608

Institute Advisory Board

Dr. Michael Attridge
Associate Professor
Faculty of Theology
University of St. Michael’s College

Dr. Darren Dias, OP
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Theology
University of St. Michael’s College

Dr. Mark McGowan
Christianity and Culture
St. Michael’s College in the
University of Toronto

Dr. Gilles Routhier
Professeur titulaire
Faculté de théologie et de sciences religieuses
Université Laval

Dr. Elizabeth Smyth
Professor and Vice-Dean (Programs)
School of Graduate Studies
University of Toronto