Would not this council, then, which has concentrated principally on man, be destined to propose again to the world of today the ladder leading to freedom and consolation? Would it not be, in short, a simple, new and solemn teaching to love man in order to love God? To love man, we say, not as a means but as the first step toward the final and transcendent goal which is the basis and cause of every love. And so this council can be summed up in its ultimate religious meaning, which is none other than a pressing and friendly invitation to mankind of today to rediscover in fraternal love the God "to turn away from whom is to fall, to turn to whom is to rise again, to remain in whom is to be secure...to return to whom is to be born again, in whom to dwell is to live" (St. Augustine, Solil. I, 1, 3; PL 32, 870).
Address of Pope Paul VI during the last general meeting of the Second Vatican Council, 7 December 1965.
CNS file photo
Following the death of Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI guided the completion of the council's work, presiding over three sessions and directing the important follow-up work in areas of liturgy, ecumenism, religious life and evangelization.