Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have made significant contributions to the teaching, and helped dramatically in the interpretation of Vatican II, as outlined by George Weigel in this article.
“A year ago, my subject would probably have struck some as counter-intuitive, implausible, even absurd: why would an octogenarian German theologian with little practical experience of political and economic life have anything interesting or important to say about "the future of the West"? Pope Benedict XVI's Westminster Hall address last September ought to have put paid to at least some of that cynicism. For as many Britons conceded after last September's papal visit, the elderly German theologian had indeed given the United Kingdom, and the rest of the West, a lot to think about in his reflections on the relationship between the health of a culture, and the health of the democratic institutions that culture must sustain.
“And that, in turn, should focus our attention on the font of wisdom from which Pope Benedict drew in analysing the current cultural situation of the Western democracies: the social doctrine of the Catholic Church as it has developed from Leo XIII—the last pope of the 19th century and the first pope of the 20th—through John Paul II, the last pope of the 20th century and the first pope of the 21st. Benedict has, of course, made his own distinctive contributions to this evolving body of thought; but before exploring those themes, a brief sketch of the Catholicism that has emerged during the period following Leo XIII, and that is struggling to come to full maturity today, will help orient the distinctively Benedictine reflections on society, culture, politics, and economics that follow.
“Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI represent the full flowering of a renaissance in Catholic thought that began with Pope Leo XIII, who, after his election to the papacy in 1878, sought an engagement with modern intellectual and cultural life through distinctively Catholic methods. The Leonine Catholic renaissance flourished in the mid-20th century in philosophical, theological, liturgical, historical and biblical studies. Those studies in turn paved the intellectual way to the Second Vatican Council, and shaped its deliberations between 1962 and 1965. The Second Vatican Council was unique, however, in that it did not provide keys for its proper interpretation: it wrote no creeds, legislated no canons, defined no doctrines, condemned no heresies—all the things other ecumenical councils had done in order to provide keys for their interpretation. Absent such keys, the nature and terms of Vatican II's achievement were sharply, even bitterly, contested in the years immediately following the Council's conclusion. As a result, the evangelical energy that Blessed John XXIII had intended his council to ignite—the determination to bring the Gospel of God's passionate love for the world to the world through a two-way dialogue with the world—was dissipated.”