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Throughout its history Christianity has accommodated and adapted to contemporary culture and society in order to reach people effectively and to have an impact on its world. In this sense it has undergone periodic refashioning. Surely, this is the case in the twentieth century which outstrips previous eras in the pace and depth of cultural and social change and in the degree of challenge to the church. It was precisely this refashioning to which the charismatic Pope John XXIII summoned Catholics when he convoked the Second Vatican Council in 1962. For this process he employed the term ‘aggiornamento’ or updating. But over the centuries the nature and degree of accommodation has frequently generated dispute and division within the church. One present-day example is the reaction of Catholics to the changing role of women, arguably the most profound social change of the twentieth century.
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