The following post was originally published by the Associated Baptist Press ABPnews Blog.
October 11, 2012 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council by Pope John XXIII. My service as a member of the Baptist World Alliance delegation to a series of bilateral ecumenical conversations with the Roman Catholic Church held from 2006 through 2010 has given me a deepened appreciation for many aspects of the work of that council and its legacy.
In particular, I’ve come to see that the Catholic Church is not unlike the Baptist tradition in terms of the role that forms of dissent play in the theological development of both traditions (though Catholics do not describe it as “dissent”—more on that distinction later), and that this feature of Vatican II suggests some ways Baptists might see themselves as participants in the ongoing formation of a larger tradition that includes the Catholic Church along with all Christian churches. I’ve also recognized that Baptists even made their own historical contributions to one of the official declarations issued by the Council and thus can arguably claim to have participated indirectly in the formulation of Catholic magisterial teaching, but I’ll save the explanation of that assertion for a future ABPnews Blog post.