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Pope John XXIII opens Vatican II

Pope John XXIII convenes the first ecumenical council in 92 years. Pope John reached the papacy from simple, peasant beginnings and his tolerance and disregard for protocol earned him a reputation for being the sympathetic pope. In summoning an ecumenical council, a general meeting of the bishops of the church, he hoped to bring spiritual rebirth to Catholicism and greater unity with other branches of Christianity.

When Vatican Council II opened in the autumn of 1962, he invited Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Protestant observers to attend the proceedings. Pope John XXIII died the following year, but the council continued under his successor, Paul VI, until 1965