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Apostolic Constitution

Fidei Depositum

memory, had as its intention and purpose to highlight the Church’s

apostolic and pastoral mission and by making the truth of the

Gospel shine forth to lead all people to seek and receive Christ’s

love which surpasses all knowledge (cf.



The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John

XXIII was to guard and present better the precious deposit of

Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Chris-

tian faithful and to all people of good will. For this reason the

Council was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but

above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the

doctrine of the faith. “Illumined by the light of this Council,” the

Pope said, “the Church . . . will become greater in spiritual riches

and gaining the strength of new energies therefrom, she will look

to the future without fear. . . . Our duty is to dedicate ourselves

with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era

demands of us, thus pursuing the path which the Church has

followed for 20 centuries.”


With the help of God, the Council Fathers in four years of

work were able to produce a considerable number of doctrinal

statements and pastoral norms which were presented to the whole

Church. There the Pastors and Christian faithful find directives for

that “renewal of thought, action, practices, and moral virtue, of joy

and hope, which was the very purpose of the Council.”


After its conclusion, the Council did not cease to inspire

the Church’s life. In 1985 I was able to assert, “For me, then—who

had the special grace of participating in it and actively collaborat-

ing in its development—Vatican II has always been, and especially

during these years of my Pontificate, the constant reference point

of my every pastoral action, in the conscious commitment to im-

plement its directives concretely and faithfully at the level of each

Church and the whole Church.”


In this spirit, on January 25, 1985, I convoked an extraor-

dinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the 20th anniversary

of the close of the Council. The purpose of this assembly was to

celebrate the graces and spiritual fruits of Vatican II, to study its

teaching in greater depth in order that all the Christian faithful

might better adhere to it and to promote knowledge and applica-

tion of it.

1 John XXIII, Discourse at the Opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical

Council, October 11, 1962: AAS 54 (1962) pp. 788-91.

2 Paul VI, Discourse at the Closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical

Council, December 7, 1965: AAS 58 (1966) pp. 7-8.

3 John Paul II, Discourse of January 25, 1985:

L’Osservatore Romano,


27, 1985.