GAUDIUM ET SPES
ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD
(The most important document of the Second Vatican Council)
Selection of citations and formatting by Manfred Hanglberger (www.hanglberger-manfred.de)
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds. (1)
For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed. (3)
The human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one. (5)
A more critical ability to distinguish religion from a magical view of the world and from the superstitions which still circulate purifies it and exacts day by day a more personal and explicit adherence to faith. As a result many persons are achieving a more vivid sense of God. (7)
Meanwhile the conviction grows not only that humanity can and should increasingly consolidate its control over creation, but even more, that it devolves on humanity to establish a political, social and economic order which will growingly serve man and help individuals as well as groups to affirm and develop the dignity proper to them. (9)
Where they have not yet won it, women claim for themselves an equity with men before the law and in fact. (9)
The number constantly swells of the people who raise the most basic questions :
· What is man?
· What is this sense of sorrow, of evil, of death ?
· What purpose have these victories purchased at so high a cost?
· What can man offer to society, what can he expect from it?
· What follows this earthly life? (10)
is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concerns, and as
more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man.
In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not
impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience.
Only in freedom can man direct himself toward goodness.
Hence man's dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure. (17)
This faith needs to prove its fruitfulness by penetrating the believer's entire life, including its worldly dimensions, and by activating him toward justice and love, especially regarding the needy.(21)
While rejecting atheism, root and branch, the Church sincerely
professes that all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for
the rightful betterment of this world in which all alike live; such an ideal
cannot be realized, however, apart from sincere and prudent dialogue. Hence
the Church protests against the distinction which some state authorities make
between believers and unbelievers, with prejudice to the fundamental rights
of the human person. (21)
28. Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters.
But it is necessary to distinguish
between error, which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who
never loses the dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or
inadequate religious notions.
The basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.
With respect to the fundamental rights
of the person,
For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights are still not being universally honored. Such is the case of a woman who is denied the right to choose a husband freely, to embrace a state of life or to acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men.
Human institutions, both private and public, must labor to minister to the dignity and purpose of man. (29)
At the same time let them put up a stubborn fight against any kind of slavery, whether social or political, and safeguard the basic rights of man under every political system. (29)
It grows increasingly true that the obligations of justice and love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common good, according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes and assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering the conditions of human life.
Let everyone consider it
his sacred obligation to esteem and observe social necessities as belonging
to the primary duties of modern man.
Throughout the course of the centuries, men have labored to better the circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and collective effort. This human activity accords with God's will.
Thus, far from thinking that works produced by
man's own talent and energy are in opposition to God's power, and that the
rational creature exists as a kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are
convinced that the triumphs of the human race are a sign of God's grace and
the flowering of His own mysterious design.
A man is more precious
for what he is than for what he has.
If by the autonomy of earthly affairs we
mean that created things and societies themselves enjoy their own laws and
values which must be gradually deciphered, put to use, and regulated by men,
then it is entirely right to demand that autonomy.
For their part, however, all believers of whatever religion always hear His revealing voice in the discourse of creatures.
38. To those,
therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of
love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal
brotherhood is not a hopeless one.
39. We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. The shape of this world will pass away;
Enduring with charity and its fruits, all that creation which God made on man's account will be unchained from the bondage of vanity.
Hence, while earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God.
together with humanity and experiences the same earthly lot which the world
The Church does not only communicate divine life to men but in some way casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person, by the way in which it strengthens the seams of human society and imbues the everyday activity of men with a deeper meaning and importance.
41. Modern man is on the road to a more thorough development of his own personality, and to a growing discovery and vindication of his own rights.
Man will always yearn to know, at least in an obscure way, what is the meaning of his life, of his activity, of his death.
The Gospel announces and proclaims the freedom of the sons of God, and repudiates all the bondage it has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its freedom of choice, constantly advises that all human talents be employed in God's service and men's, and, finally, commends all to the charity of all (cf. Matt. 22:39).
by virtue of the
Gospel committed to her, proclaims the rights of man;
The Church recognizes that worthy elements are found in today's social movements, especially an evolution toward unity, a process of wholesome socialization and of association in civic and economic realms.
With great respect this council regards all the true, good and just elements inherent in the very wide variety of institutions which the human race has established for itself and constantly continues to establish.
It happens rather frequently, and
legitimately so, that with equal sincerity some of the faithful will disagree
with others on a given matter.
44. Just as it is in the world's interest to acknowledge the Church as an historical reality, and to recognize her good influence, so the Church herself knows how richly she has profited by the history and development of humanity.
The Church admits that she has greatly profited and still profits from the antagonism of those who oppose or who persecute her.
The proposals of this sacred
synod look to the assistance of every man of our time, whether he believes in
God, or does not explicitly recognize Him.
The dialogue with all man
92. To unify under one Spirit all men of whatever nation, race or culture, the Church stands forth as a sign of that brotherhood which allows honest dialogue and gives it vigor.
Such a mission requires in the
first place that we foster within the Church herself mutual esteem, reverence
and harmony, through the full recognition of lawful diversity.
.. For the farther the unity of Christians advances toward truth and love , the more this unity will be a harbinger of unity and peace for the world at large.
For our part, the desire for
dialogue, which can lead to truth through love alone, excludes no one, though
an appropriate measure of prudence must undoubtedly be exercised.
Texts from the latest document of faith by Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia: