restricted access Vatican II—The Catholic Revolution from Damnation to Dialogue!

Like most, if not all, ancient religions, Catholic Christianity was sure that it alone had all the answers to the meaning of life (the different answers to that question—What is the meaning of life, and how to accomplish it?—is what produced the different religions). Although most Christian writers before Constantine adopted Christianity for the Roman Empire in the early fourth century argued in favor of religious freedom for all, after Constantine, they argued that the state had the obligation to defend religious truth, and the Christian Church had it: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (“Outside of the Church there is no salvation”). This position largely lasted beyond the middle of the twentieth century. The Catholic Church’s Second Vatican Council (1962–65) dramatically reversed all that. The official Catholic position now is that one can fulfill the “meaning of life” extra ecclesiam, outside the Church.