The Legacy of Vatican II and Santeria: The Path of the Orishas

Fifty years ago this month, more than 2,000 bishops gathered in Rome to figure out how to bring the Catholic Church into the modern world.

Vatican II — Fifty Years Later

When Father Thomas Reese was growing up in the 1950s, the Catholic Church was a much different place. He remembers hearing the Sunday mass in Latin (a language most didn’t understand), and he says spirituality was based on the idea that the Church was the sole keeper of the Truth. “We had the answers to everything,” he says.

Then, in October 1962, Pope John XXIII convened the second Vatican Council – a conference meant to modernize and reform the Catholic Church. It would become the Church’s most important council since the Reformation.

Santeria: The Path of the Orishas

Orishas are the gods of Santeria, an ancient tradition that began among the Yoruba people of sub-Saharan Africa. Much like the saints of Catholicism, Santeria has hundreds of Orishas, which offer guidance, wisdom, and a connection to one’s ancestors.

Santeria, also known as the Lucumi faith, came to the Caribbean with the slave trade, and mingled with Roman Catholic Christianity. Practioners are perhaps best known for using animal sacrifice in their ceremonies – a practice they’ve successfully defended in the United States.




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