Laïcité "secularity", is a French concept of secularism. It discourages religious involvement in government affairs religious influence in the determination of state policies. Dictionaries ordinarily translate laïcité as "secularity" or "secularism", although it is sometimes rendered in English as laicity or laicism by its opponents. While the term was first used with this meaning in 1871 in the dispute over the removal of religious teachers and instruction from elementary schools, the word laïcisme dates to 1842. In its strict and official acceptance, it is the principle of separation of state. Etymologically, laïcité is a noun formed by adding the suffix -ité to the Latin adjective lāicus, a loanword from the Greek λᾱϊκός, the adjective from λᾱός. French secularism has a long history. For the last century, the French government policy has been based on the 1905 French law on the Separation of the Churches and the State. Laïcité is a concept rooted in the French Revolution, as it started to develop since the French Third Republic, after the Republicans gained control of the state.
The word laïcité has been used, from the end of the 19th century on, to mean the freedom of public institutions primary schools, from the influence of the Catholic Church in countries where it had retained its influence, in the context of a secularization process. Today, the concept covers other religious movements as well. Proponents assert the French state secularism is based on respect for freedom of thought and freedom of religion, thus the absence of a state religion, the subsequent separation of the state and Church, is considered by proponents to be a prerequisite for such freedom of thought. Proponents maintain that laïcité is thus distinct from anti-clericalism, which opposes the influence of religion and the clergy. Laïcité relies on the division between private life, where adherents believe religion belongs, the public sphere, in which each individual, adherents believe, should appear as a simple citizen equal to all other citizens, devoid of ethnic, religious or other particularities.
According to this concept, the government must refrain from taking positions on religious doctrine and only consider religious subjects for their practical consequences on inhabitants' lives. Supporters argue that laïcité by itself does not imply any hostility of the government with respect to any religion, it is best described as a belief that government and political issues should be kept separate from religious organizations and religious issues. This is meant to protect both the government from any possible interference from religious organizations, to protect the religious organization from political quarrels and controversies. Critics of laïcité argue that it is a disguised form of anti-clericalism and infringement on individual right to religious expression, that, instead of promoting freedom of thought and freedom of religion, it prevents the believer from observing his or her religion. Another critique is that, in countries dominated by one religious tradition avoiding taking any positions on religious matters favors the dominant religious tradition of the relevant country.
In the current French Fifth Republic, school holidays follow the Christian liturgical year, that include Christmas and holiday seasons, though Easter holidays have been replaced by Spring holidays which may or may not include Easter, depending on the vagaries of the liturgical calendar. However, schools have long given leave to students for important holidays of their specific non-majority religions, food menus served in secondary schools pay particular attention to ensuring that each religious observer may respect his religion's specific restrictions concerning diets. Other countries, following in the French model, have forms of Laïcité – examples include Albania and Turkey; the principle of laïcité in France is implemented through a number of policies. The French government is prohibited from recognizing any religion. Instead, it recognizes religious organizations, according to formal legal criteria that do not address religious doctrine: whether the sole purpose of the organization is to organize religious activities whether the organization disrupts public order.
French political leaders, though not by any means prohibited from making religious remarks refrain from it. Religious considerations are considered incompatible with reasoned political debate. Political leaders may practice their religion but they are expected to differentiate their religious beliefs from their political arguments. Christine Boutin, who argued on religious grounds against a legal domestic partnership available regardless of the sex of the partners became the butt of late-night comedy jokes; the term was the French equivalent of the term laity, that is, everyone, not clergy. After the French Revolution this meaning changed and it came to mean keeping religion separate from the executive and legislative branches of government; this includes prohibitions on having a state religion, as well as for the government to endorse any religious position, be it a religion or atheism. Although the term was current throughou
Gregory II Youssef
Patriarch Gregory II Youssef known as Gregory II Hanna Youssef-Sayour, was Patriarch of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church from 1864 to 1897. Gregory expanded and modernized the church and its institutions and participated in the First Vatican Council, where he championed the rights of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Gregory is remembered as a dynamic patriarch of the Melkite Church, he is recognized as one of the forerunners of interconfessional dialogue and as an advocate for preserving the traditions and autonomy of the Melkites. Hanna Youssef-Sayour was born October 17, 1823, near Alexandria, Egypt. In 1840, at age 16, he entered the Basilian Salvatorian Order. In 1844, he began to study in the Jesuit seminary of Kesrouane in Mount Lebanon. From 1847 to 1856 Youssef studied philosophy and theology in the Pontifical Greek College of Saint Athanasius in Rome, where he was ordained priest on June 11, 1854. Back in the Middle East, he was chosen by the newly elected patriarch Clement Bahouth as successor for the See of Acre and Galilee.
He received the episcopal consecration on November 1856, by patriarch Clement Bahouth. During his episcopate Youssef faced three major issues: discontent within the Melkite Church for the introduction of the Gregorian Calendar by Clement Bahouth, a short-lived schism supported by the Russian Orthodox Church on the basis of the newly introduced Gregorian Calendar, division between the Basilians monks. Youssef remained neutral on the calendar, but fiercely fought the schism; the conflicts in the Melkite church escalated and in 1864 Clement Bahouth asked the church leadership in Rome to abdicate his position as patriarch and elect Youssef as his successor. Rome authorized the resignation, a synod of bishops was convened for September 24, 1864. At the opening of the synod Clement Bahouth announced his resignation, the synod elected Youssef as patriarch on September 29, 1864. Youssef took the name Gregory and was confirmed by Pope Pius IX on March 27, 1865. Once elected, patriarch Gregory worked to restore peace in the religious community and healed the schism.
He focused on improving church institutions and founded the Patriarchal College in Beirut in 1865 and the Patriarchal College in Damascus in 1875, re-opened the Melkite seminary of Ain Traz in 1866. Gregory promoted the establishment of Saint Ann's Seminary by the White Fathers in 1882 for the training of Melkite clergy. Following the Hatti Humayyouni decree by Sultan Abdul Majid in 1856 the life of Christians in the Near East improved; this allowed Gregory to encourage greater participation by the Melkite laity in both church administration and public affairs. Gregory took an interest in ministering to the growing number of Melkites who had emigrated to the Americas. In 1889, he dispatched Father Ibrahim Beshawate of the Basilian Salvatorian Order in Sidon, Lebanon, to New York to minister to the growing local Syrian community. According to historian Philip Hitte, Beshawate was the first permanent priest in the United States from the Near East from the Melkite and Antiochian Orthodox Churches.
Gregory was a prominent proponent of Eastern ecclesiology at the First Vatican Council. In two discourses he gave at the Council on May 19 and June 14, 1870, he emphasized the importance of conforming to the decisions of the Council of Florence and of not innovating ideas of papal primacy, such as papal infallibility, he anticipated a negative impact of a dogmatic definition of papal infallibility on relations with the Eastern Orthodox Church and became a prominent opponent of the dogma at the Council. Gregory defended the rights and privileges of the patriarchs afforded by earlier ecumenical councils. Speaking at the Council on May 19, 1870, Gregory stated: The Eastern Church attributes to the pope the most complete and highest power, however in a manner where the fullness and primacy are in harmony with the rights of the patriarchal sees; this is why, in virtue of and ancient right founded on customs, the Roman Pontiffs did not, except in significant cases, exercise over these sees the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction that we are asked now to define without any exception.
This definition would destroy the constitution of the entire Greek church. That is. Gregory refused to sign the Council's dogmatic declaration on papal infallibility, he and two of the seven other Melkite bishops present voted non placet at the general congregation and left Rome prior to the adoption of the dogmatic constitution Pastor aeternus on papal infallibility. Other members of the anti-infallibilist minority from the Latin church and other Eastern Catholic churches left the city. After the First Vatican Council concluded, an emissary of the Roman Curia was dispatched to secure the signatures of the patriarch and the Melkite delegation. Gregory and the Melkite bishops subscribed to it, but added the qualifying clause used at the Council of Florence: "except the rights and privileges of Eastern patriarchs." He earned the enmity of Pope Pius IX for this. In spite of this event and the Melkite Catholic Church remained committed to their union with the Holy See. Relationships with the Vatican improved following the death of Pius IX and the subsequent election of Pope Leo XIII.
Leo's encyclical Orientalium dignitas in 1894 addressed some of the Eastern Catholic Churches' concerns on latinization and the centralization of power in Rome. Leo confirmed that the limitations placed on the Armenian Catholic patria
Jacques Maritain was a French Catholic philosopher. Raised Protestant, he was agnostic before converting to Catholicism in 1906. An author of more than 60 books, he helped to revive Thomas Aquinas for modern times, was influential in the development and drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pope Paul VI presented his "Message to Men of Thought and of Science" at the close of Vatican II to Maritain, his long-time friend and mentor; the same pope had considered making him a lay Cardinal, but Maritain rejected it. Maritain's interest and works spanned many aspects of philosophy, including aesthetics, political theory, philosophy of science, the nature of education and ecclesiology. Maritain was born in Paris, the son of Paul Maritain, a lawyer, his wife Geneviève Favre, the daughter of Jules Favre, was reared in a liberal Protestant milieu, he was sent to the Lycée Henri-IV. He attended the Sorbonne, studying the natural sciences: chemistry and physics. At the Sorbonne, he met Raïssa Oumançoff, a Russian Jewish émigré.
They married in 1904. A noted poet and mystic, she participated as his intellectual partner in his search for truth. Raissa's sister, Vera Oumançoff, lived with Jacques and Raissa for all their married life. At the Sorbonne, Jacques and Raïssa soon became disenchanted with scientism, which could not, in their view, address the larger existential issues of life. In 1901, in light of this disillusionment, they made a pact to commit suicide together if they could not discover some deeper meaning to life within a year, they were spared from following through on this because, at the urging of Charles Péguy, they attended the lectures of Henri Bergson at the Collège de France. Bergson's critique of scientism dissolved their intellectual despair and instilled in them "the sense of the absolute." Through the influence of Léon Bloy, they converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1906. In the fall of 1907 the Maritains moved to Heidelberg, where Jacques studied biology under Hans Driesch. Hans Driesch’s theory of neo-vitalism attracted Jacques because of its affinity with Henri Bergson.
During this time, Raïssa fell ill, during her convalescence, their spiritual advisor, a Dominican friar named Humbert Clérissac, introduced her to the writings of Thomas Aquinas. She, in turn, exhorted her husband to examine the saint's writings. In Thomas, Maritain found a number of ideas that he had believed all along, he wrote: Thenceforth, in affirming to myself, without chicanery or diminution, the authentic value of the reality of our human instruments of knowledge, I was a Thomist without knowing it... When several months I came to the Summa Theologiae, I would construct no impediment to its luminous flood. From the Angelic Doctor, he was led to "The Philosopher". Still to further his intellectual development, he read the neo-Thomists. Beginning in 1912, Maritain taught at the Collège Stanislas, he moved to the Institut Catholique de Paris. For the 1916–1917 academic year, he taught at the Petit Séminaire de Versailles. In 1930 Maritain and Étienne Gilson received honorary doctorates in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum.
In 1933, he gave his first lectures in North America in Toronto at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. He taught at Columbia University. From 1945 to 1948, he was the French ambassador to the Holy See. Afterwards, he returned to Princeton University where he achieved the "Elysian status" of a professor emeritus in 1956. Raissa Maritain died in 1960. After her death, Jacques published her journal under the title "Raissa's Journal." For several years Maritain was an honorary chairman of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, appearing as a keynote speaker at its 1960 conference in Berlin. From 1961, Maritain lived with the Little Brothers of Jesus in France, he had an influence on the order since its foundation in 1933. He became a Little Brother in 1970. Jacques and Raïssa Maritain are buried in the cemetery of Kolbsheim, a little French village in Alsace where he had spent many summers at the estate of his friends and Alexander Grunelius. A cause for beatification of him and his wife Raissa is being planned.
The foundation of Maritain's thought is Aristotle and the Thomistic commentators John of St. Thomas, he is eclectic in his use of these sources. Maritain's philosophy is based on evidence accrued by the senses and acquired by an understanding of first principles. Maritain defended philosophy as a science against those who would degrade it and promoted philosophy as the "queen of sciences". In 1910, Jacques Maritain completed his first contribution to modern philosophy, a 28-page article titled, "Reason and Modern Science" published in Revue de Philosophie. In it, he warned that science was becoming a divinity, its methodology usurping the role of reason and philosophy. Science was supplanting the humanities in importance. In 1917, a committee of French bishops commissioned Jacques to write a series of textbooks to be used in Catholic colleges and seminaries, he wrote and completed only one of these projects, titled Elements de Philosophie in 1920. It has been a standard text since in many Catholic seminaries.
He wrote in his introduction: If the philosophy of Aristotle, as revived and enriched by Thomas Aquinas and his school, may rightly be called the Christian philosophy, both because the church is never weary of putt
The pope known as the supreme pontiff, is the Bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy; the current pope is Francis, elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI. While his office is called the papacy, the episcopal see and ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See, it is the Holy See, the sovereign entity of international law headquartered in the distinctively independent Vatican City State, established by the Lateran Treaty in 1929 between Italy and the Holy See to ensure its temporal and spiritual independence. The primacy of the Bishop of Rome is derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, giving him the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the church would be built; the apostolic see of Rome was founded by Saint Peter and Saint Paul in 1st century, according to Catholic tradition.
The papacy is one of the most enduring institutions in the world and has had a prominent part in world history. In ancient times the popes helped spread Christianity, intervened to find resolutions in various doctrinal disputes. In the Middle Ages, they played a role of secular importance in Western Europe acting as arbitrators between Christian monarchs. In addition to the expansion of the Christian faith and doctrine, the popes are involved in ecumenism and interfaith dialogue, charitable work, the defense of human rights. In some periods of history, the papacy, which had no temporal powers, accrued wide secular powers rivaling those of temporal rulers. However, in recent centuries the temporal authority of the papacy has declined and the office is now exclusively focused on religious matters. By contrast, papal claims of spiritual authority have been firmly expressed over time, culminating in 1870 with the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility for rare occasions when the pope speaks ex cathedra—literally "from the chair"—to issue a formal definition of faith or morals.
Still, the Pope is considered one of the world's most powerful people because of his extensive diplomatic and spiritual influence on 1.3 billion Catholics and beyond, as well as the official representative of the Catholic Church being the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world, with a vast international network of charities. The word pope derives from Greek πάππας meaning "father". In the early centuries of Christianity, this title was applied in the east, to all bishops and other senior clergy, became reserved in the west to the Bishop of Rome, a reservation made official only in the 11th century; the earliest record of the use of this title was in regard to the by deceased Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heraclas of Alexandria. The earliest recorded use of the title "pope" in English dates to the mid-10th century, when it was used in reference to the 7th century Roman Pope Vitalian in an Old English translation of Bede's Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.
The Catholic Church teaches that the pastoral office, the office of shepherding the Church, held by the apostles, as a group or "college" with Saint Peter as their head, is now held by their successors, the bishops, with the bishop of Rome as their head. Thus, is derived another title by which the pope is known, that of "Supreme Pontiff"; the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus appointed Peter as leader of the Church, the Catholic Church's dogmatic constitution Lumen gentium makes a clear distinction between apostles and bishops, presenting the latter as the successors of the former, with the pope as successor of Peter, in that he is head of the bishops as Peter was head of the apostles. Some historians argue against the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, noting that the episcopal see in Rome can be traced back no earlier than the 3rd century; the writings of the Church Father Irenaeus who wrote around AD 180 reflect a belief that Peter "founded and organized" the Church at Rome.
Moreover, Irenaeus was not the first to write of Peter's presence in the early Roman Church. Clement of Rome wrote in a letter to the Corinthians, c. 96, about the persecution of Christians in Rome as the "struggles in our time" and presented to the Corinthians its heroes, "first, the greatest and most just columns", the "good apostles" Peter and Paul. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote shortly after Clement and in his letter from the city of Smyrna to the Romans he said he would not command them as Peter and Paul did. Given this and other evidence, such as Emperor Constantine's erection of the "Old St. Peter's Basilica" on the location of St. Peter's tomb, as held and given to him by Rome's Christian community, many scholars agree that Peter was martyred in Rome under Nero, although some scholars argue that he may have been martyred in Palestine. First-century Christian communities would have had a group of presbyter-bishops functioning as leaders of their local churches. Episcopacies were established in metropolitan areas.
Antioch may have developed such a structure before Rome. In Rome, there were many who claimed to be the rightful bishop, though again Irenaeus stressed the validity of one line of bishops from the time of St. Peter up to his contemporary Pope Victor I and listed them; some writers claim that the emergence of a single bishop in Rome did not occur until the middle of the 2nd century. In their view, Linus and Clement were prominent presbyter-bishops
Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church that states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope is preserved from the possibility of error "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church." "Infallibility means more than exemption from actual error. According to Catholic theology, there are several concepts important to the understanding of infallible, divine revelation: Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, the Sacred Magisterium; the infallible teachings of the Pope are part of the Sacred Magisterium, which consists of ecumenical councils and the "ordinary and universal magisterium". In Catholic theology, papal infallibility is one of the channels of the infallibility of the Church; the infallible teachings of the Pope must be based on, or at least not contradict, Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. The doctrine of infallibility relies on one of the cornerstones of Catholic dogma: that of Petrine supremacy of the pope, his authority as the ruling agent who decides what are accepted as formal beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church.
The use of this power is referred to as speaking ex cathedra. The solemn declaration of papal infallibility by Vatican I took place on 18 July 1870. Since that time, the only example of an ex cathedra decree took place in 1950, when Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary as an article of faith. Prior to the solemn definition of 1870, there were other decrees which fit the definition of ex cathedra, for example, Pope Boniface VIII in the bull Unam Sanctam of 1302, Pope Pius IX in the Papal constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 1854; the church teaches that infallibility is a charism entrusted by Christ to the whole church, whereby the Pope, as "head of the college of bishops," enjoys papal infallibility. This charism is the supreme degree of participating in Christ's divine authority, which, in the New Covenant, so as to safeguard the faithful from defection and guarantee the profession of faith, ensures the faithful abide in the truth; the church further teaches that divine assistance is given to the Pope when he exercises his ordinary Magisterium.
According to the teaching of the First Vatican Council and Catholic tradition, the conditions required for ex cathedra papal teaching are as follows: the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole ChurchThe terminology of a definitive decree makes clear that this last condition is fulfilled, as through a formula such as "By the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, by Our own authority, We declare and define the doctrine... to be revealed by God and as such to be and immutably held by all the faithful," or through an accompanying anathema stating that anyone who deliberately dissents is outside the Catholic Church. For example, in 1950, with Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII's infallible definition regarding the Assumption of Mary, there are attached these words: "Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which We have defined, let him know that he has fallen away from the divine and Catholic Faith."As with all charisms, the church teaches that the charism of papal infallibility must be properly discerned, though only by the Church's leaders.
The way to know if something a pope says is infallible or not is to discern if they are ex cathedra teachings. Considered infallible are the teachings of the whole body of bishops of the Church but not only in an ecumenical council. Pastor aeternus does not allow any infallibility for the Pope for new doctrines. Any doctrines defined must be "conformable with Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Traditions": "For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. " It gives examples of the kinds of consultations that are appropriate include assembling Ecumenical Councils, asking for the mind of the church scattered around the world, so on. Not all Catholic teaching is infallible; the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith differentiates three kinds of doctrine: to be believed as divinely revealed to be held following a solemn defining act by a Pope or Ecumenical council following a non-defining act by a Pope, confirming or re-affirming a thing taught by the ordinary and universal teaching authority of bishops worldwide otherwise, to be respected or submitted to as part of the ordinary teaching authority of bishops, but without any claim of infallibility.
In July 2005 Pope Benedict XVI stated during an impromptu address to priests in Aosta that: "The Pope is not an oracle. Pope John XXIII once remarked: "I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do th
The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range system that lies in Europe, separating Southern from Central and Western Europe and stretching 1,200 kilometres across eight Alpine countries: France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia. The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. Extreme shortening caused by the event resulted in marine sedimentary rocks rising by thrusting and folding into high mountain peaks such as Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Mont Blanc spans the French–Italian border, at 4,810 m is the highest mountain in the Alps; the Alpine region area contains about a hundred peaks higher than 4,000 metres. The altitude and size of the range affects the climate in Europe. Wildlife such as ibex live in the higher peaks to elevations of 3,400 m, plants such as Edelweiss grow in rocky areas in lower elevations as well as in higher elevations. Evidence of human habitation in the Alps goes back to the Palaeolithic era.
A mummified man, determined to be 5,000 years old, was discovered on a glacier at the Austrian–Italian border in 1991. By the 6th century BC, the Celtic La Tène culture was well established. Hannibal famously crossed the Alps with a herd of elephants, the Romans had settlements in the region. In 1800, Napoleon crossed one of the mountain passes with an army of 40,000; the 18th and 19th centuries saw an influx of naturalists and artists, in particular, the Romantics, followed by the golden age of alpinism as mountaineers began to ascend the peaks. The Alpine region has a strong cultural identity; the traditional culture of farming and woodworking still exists in Alpine villages, although the tourist industry began to grow early in the 20th century and expanded after World War II to become the dominant industry by the end of the century. The Winter Olympic Games have been hosted in the Swiss, Italian and German Alps. At present, the region has 120 million annual visitors; the English word Alps derives from the Latin Alpes.
Maurus Servius Honoratus, an ancient commentator of Virgil, says in his commentary that all high mountains are called Alpes by Celts. The term may be common to Italo-Celtic, because the Celtic languages have terms for high mountains derived from alp; this may be consistent with the theory. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Latin Alpes might derive from a pre-Indo-European word *alb "hill". Albania, a name not native to the region known as the country of Albania, has been used as a name for a number of mountainous areas across Europe. In Roman times, "Albania" was a name for the eastern Caucasus, while in the English languages "Albania" was used as a name for Scotland, although it is more derived from the Latin albus, the color white; the Latin word Alpes could come from the adjective albus. In modern languages the term alp, albe or alpe refers to a grazing pastures in the alpine regions below the glaciers, not the peaks. An alp refers to a high mountain pasture where cows are taken to be grazed during the summer months and where hay barns can be found, the term "the Alps", referring to the mountains, is a misnomer.
The term for the mountain peaks varies by nation and language: words such as Horn, Kopf, Spitze and Berg are used in German speaking regions. The Alps are a crescent shaped geographic feature of central Europe that ranges in a 800 km arc from east to west and is 200 km in width; the mean height of the mountain peaks is 2.5 km. The range stretches from the Mediterranean Sea north above the Po basin, extending through France from Grenoble, stretching eastward through mid and southern Switzerland; the range continues onward toward Vienna and east to the Adriatic Sea and Slovenia. To the south it dips into northern Italy and to the north extends to the southern border of Bavaria in Germany. In areas like Chiasso and Allgäu, the demarcation between the mountain range and the flatlands are clear; the countries with the greatest alpine territory are Austria, Italy and Switzerland. The highest portion of the range is divided by the glacial trough of the Rhône valley, from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa on the southern side, the Bernese Alps on the northern.
The peaks in the easterly portion of the range, in Austria and Slovenia, are smaller than those in the central and western portions. The variances in nomenclature in the region spanned by the Alps makes classification of the mountains and subregions difficult, but a general classification is that of the Eastern Alps and Western Alps with the divide between the two occurring in eastern Switzerland according to geologist Stefan Schmid, near the Splügen Pass; the highest peaks of the Western Alps and Eastern Alps are Mont Blanc, at 4,810 m and Piz Bernina at 4,049 metres. The second-highest major
Second Vatican Council
The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican known as the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II, addressed relations between the Catholic Church and the modern world. The council, through the Holy See, was formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and was closed under Pope Paul VI on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1965. Several changes resulted from the council, including the renewal of consecrated life with a revised charism, ecumenical efforts towards dialogue with other religions, the universal call to holiness, which according to Pope Paul VI was "the most characteristic and ultimate purpose of the teachings of the Council". According to Pope Benedict XVI, the most important and essential message of the council is "the Paschal Mystery as the center of what it is to be Christian and therefore of the Christian life, the Christian year, the Christian seasons". Other changes which followed the council included the widespread use of vernacular languages in the Mass instead of Latin, the subtle disuse of ornate clerical regalia, the revision of Eucharistic prayers, the abbreviation of the liturgical calendar, the ability to celebrate the Mass versus populum, as well as ad orientem, modern aesthetic changes encompassing contemporary Catholic liturgical music and artwork.
Many of these changes remain divisive among the Catholic faithful. Of those who took part in the council's opening session, four have become popes: Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, who on succeeding John XXIII took the name Pope Paul VI. In the 1950s, theological and biblical studies in the Catholic Church had begun to sway away from the Neo-Scholasticism and biblical literalism which a reaction to Catholic modernism had enforced since the First Vatican Council; this shift could be seen in theologians such as Karl Rahner, Michael Herbert, John Courtney Murray who looked to integrate modern human experience with church principles based on Jesus Christ, as well as others such as Yves Congar, Joseph Ratzinger and Henri de Lubac, who looked to an accurate understanding of scripture and the early Church Fathers as a source of renewal. At the same time, the world's bishops faced challenges driven by political, social and technological change; some of these bishops sought new ways of addressing those challenges.
The First Vatican Council had been held nearly a century before but had been cut short in 1870 when the Italian Army entered the city of Rome at the end of Italian unification. As a result, only deliberations on the role of the papacy and the congruent relationship of faith and reason were completed, with examination of pastoral issues concerning the direction of the Church left unaddressed. Pope John XXIII, gave notice of his intention to convene the Council on 25 January 1959, less than three months after his election in October 1958; this sudden announcement, which caught the Curia by surprise, caused little initial official comment from Church insiders. Reaction to the announcement was widespread and positive from both religious and secular leaders outside the Catholic Church, the council was formally summoned by the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis on 25 December 1961. In various discussions before the Council convened, John XXIII said that it was time to "open the windows and let in some fresh air".
He invited other Christians outside the Catholic Church to send observers to the Council. Acceptances came from both the Eastern Orthodox Church and Protestant denominations as internal observers, but these observers did not cast votes in the approbation of the conciliar documents. Pope John XXIII's announcement on 25 January 1959 of his intention to call a general council came as a surprise to the cardinals present; the Pontiff pre-announced the council under a full moon when the faithful with their candlelights gathered in St. Peter's square and jokingly noted about the brightness of the moon, he had tested the idea only ten days before with one of them, his Cardinal Secretary of State Domenico Tardini, who gave enthusiastic support to the idea. Although the Pope said the idea came to him in a flash in his conversation with Tardini, two cardinals had earlier attempted to interest him in the idea, they were two of the most conservative, Ernesto Ruffini and Alfredo Ottaviani, who had in 1948 proposed the idea to Pope Pius XII and who put it before John XXIII on 27 October 1958.
Actual preparations for the Council took more than two years, included work from 10 specialised commissions, people for mass media and Christian Unity, a Central Commission for overall coordination. These groups, composed of members of the Roman Curia, produced 987 proposed constituting sessions, making it the largest gathering in any council in church history. Attendance varied in sessions from 2,100 to over 2,300. In addition, a varying number of periti were available for theological consultation—a group that turned out to have a major influence as the council went forward. Seventeen Orthodox Churches and Protestant denominations sent observers. More than three dozen representatives of other Christian communities were present at the opening session, the number grew to nearly 100 by the end of the 4th Council Sessions. Pope John XXIII opened the Council on 11 October 1962 in a public session and read the declaration Gaudet Mater Ecclesia before the Council Fathers. What is needed at the present t