As the Catholic Church prepares to elect a new pope after Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation, LIFE.com recalls another turning point for the church a half-century ago: the historic Vatican II council that began in Rome in 1962. See the photos here.
Pictured: Pope John XXIII rides in procession to St. Peter’s Basilica at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 1962
(Paul Schutzer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

As the Catholic Church prepares to elect a new pope after Benedict XVI’s surprise resignation, LIFE.com recalls another turning point for the church a half-century ago: the historic Vatican II council that began in Rome in 1962. See the photos here.

Pictured: Pope John XXIII rides in procession to St. Peter’s Basilica at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 1962

(Paul Schutzer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

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