"GAUDIUM ET SPES"
GAUDIUM ET SPES Introduction This document was probably the most contentious one of the Council and its interpretation is central to one's understanding of the purpose of the Council. It is claimed by 'liberals' and 'the Magisterium' as theirs. One issue of historic note is the question of "Liberation Theology". Was it a development of this document? The answer is Yes, when the human person is centre stage with liberation from sin, and all its personal and social consequences. The answer is No when the human person is reduced to a part of the wider Marxist analysis of the human condition with its revolutionary rhetoric. This is the document most beloved by those on the liberal wing of the Church, and is also the most quoted document in the writings of Pope John Paul II. If we assume the validity of liberal-conservative divide, we result in the strangest of questions: "Why does a conservative Pope quote so approvingly a liberal document?" It is suggested that a more mainstream interpretation of this document will not only overcome the division between the two positions, but also help identify points that need further clarification. This document is essential for understanding the pontificate of Pope John Paul II and his focus on the human person and the Millennium (two thousand years from the Incarnation), which unite through the person of Jesus Christ. Two other documents are also essential, Redemptor Hominis and Veritatis Splendor. The first defined his pontificate and the second was probably the most important of his pontificate. Pre history to Gaudium et Spes This document was originally known as Schema XIII. It was the last, along with Dignitate Humanae, to be approved by the Second Vatican Council in December 1965. Many within the Curia did not want the document at all, as its subject area was too diffuse and the methodology used alien to the tradition of Church documents. The tone of the document is one of dialogue with the world. Karol Wojtyla, one of those involved with its composition, spoke of using "the power of arguments rather than moralisation" and of its being "more of a meditation than a statement of doctrine". These ways did not sit well with the more traditional form of Vatican documents, even those of Vatican II. However it is a methodology that has stood the test of time, being used by Pope John Paul II in his Encyclicals, Exhortations and other letters. Dialogue joined to Scriptural exposition. The two key concepts that will help in interpreting the document: 1. Christocentric Anthropology. What does this expression mean? It is the study of man that looks in two directions simultaneously: one toward man himself, and the other toward Christ. The Church does not advocate a particular school of anthropology, nor does she preach a message that takes no account of the human condition. The search for appropriate foundations that explain the dignity of the person will be the basis for a dialogue with the world. The first part of the document will cover freedom and conscience especially - human attributes valued highly by modern man. This method is also Christocentric, because Jesus Christ has revealed the true dignity and destiny of the human person. The method may be described as "From the question of man to the question of God." Many might feel uncomfortable with such an expression. They might ask what about doctrine? Does this not take away from revelation? Instead it allows us to see man as the chosen recipient of revelation. The spiritual underpinning of all human capacities makes us able to hear the Word and also to freely accept it. GS10: "In the light of Christ, the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation, the Council means to address itself to everybody, to shed light on the mystery of man and to co-operate in finding solutions to the problems of our time." Other key Christocentric texts: No. 22, 32, 38-39, 40-41 and 45. 2. Pastoral nature. Seeking ways to present Jesus Christ to the human family. This expresses the specific nature of the Church. St. Paul's advice to his pupil, Timothy, whom he had left behind in Ephesus: "God wants everyone to be saved and reach full knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4). The Church fulfils its nature when it is missionary. (Green Paper) The two terms central to this pastoral concern were 'aggiornamento' and 'signs of the times'. These two terms have caused major difficulties in interpretation, as we shall see later. Karol Wojtyla spoke at the opening debate about the "special timeliness". "Men and women were eagerly awaiting what the Church had to say to them." Committed to dialogue with the world, "the Church is seeking with it the truth and the just solution of the difficult problems of human life." The document should take a cue from good teachers, adopting a "heuristic method that permits the disciple to find the truth almost on his own." (Witness to Hope, p.167) In the drafting committee he commented that "the text should make reference to the inadequate answers that the contemporary world is offering." The recognition of competing answers to the question of being human is essential for the new evangelisation. If people do not believe in God, they end up not believing in anything. In his opening address on 28 September 1965, he said the "new Constitution" was more of a meditation than a statement of doctrine, since its principal concern is the human person, considered in himself, in community and "in the scheme of all things." (Witness to Hope, p. 168) Looking ahead one may see both the Christocentric Anthropology and the emphasis on dialogue in this quote from Redemptor Hominis (para. 8). This document helps anchor a true interpretation of Gaudium et Spes. "In the penetrating analysis of 'the modern world' the Second Vatican Council reached that most important point of the visible world that is man, by penetrating like Christ the depth of human consciousness and by making contact with the inward mystery of man, which in biblical and non-biblical language is expressed by the word 'heart'. Christ the Redeemer of the world is the one who penetrated in a unique, unrepeatable way into the mystery of man and entered his 'heart.' Rightly therefore does the Second Vatican Council teach: 'The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a type of Him who was to come (Rom.5:14), Christ the Lord. Christ, the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.' And the Council continues: 'He who is the image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) is Himself the perfect man who has restored in the children of Adam that likeness to God which had been disfigured ever since the first sin. Human nature, by the very fact that it was assumed by, not absorbed in, Him has been raised in us also to a dignity beyond compare. For, by His Incarnation, He, the Son of God, in a certain way united Himself with each man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart He loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been one of us, like to us in all things except sin.' " (GS22). No.8 Redemptor Hominis. Outline of the Document Preface: Situation of humanity in the world of today. Part I. The Church and man's vocation. Four headings: 1) The dignity of the human person. 2) The community of man. 3) The activity of man in the world. 4) The Church's function in the world. Part II. Five headings: 1) The dignity of marriage and the family. 2) The proper promotion of cultural process. 3) Social and economic life. 4) The life of the political community. 5) Fostering peace and the international community. Conclusion. Preface: (pp. 1-3) Solidarity of the Church with the whole human family. Man at the centre. "His joys and hopes". Gaudium et Spes the sorrow and the anxiety. Situation of mankind in the world today: The key expression of the 'signs of the time' and the need to interpret them in the light of the Gospel. The document sets the scene with some general observations. Gaudium et Spes needs to be seen in its context of the post-war European settlement, and the post-colonial era. Sustained economic growth and scientific advances led to greater awareness of the gap between rich and poor, between what is possible and what is actual and thus an increased awareness of unrequited aspirations. In a time of change there was a difficulty in recognising enduring values. The 1980s saw a demand for cultural rights, a life worthy of man. The document was speaking to all different cultures and painting a picture. The section concludes with the observation that the contradictions in the world are mirrored in the contradictions in man. Life is viewed as a drama - a favourite theme of European philosophy. The person writes the script. Existentialism, 'person and act', written by Karol Wojtyla. Inference is not to despair; these questions are a fertile place to preach the Gospel. The speaker had accepted two Mass intentions from the same girl, one for Kurt Cobain and the other for Mother Angelica. Understanding this apparent dichotomy is understanding something of contemporary culture. The Council affirms that "Christ is the centre and purpose of all human history. The Church claims that beneath all change there are many things unchanging which have their ultimate foundation in Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever." Part I. The Church and man's Vocation. This section emphasises that the Church can enter with confidence into this arena. "Faith sheds new light on everything and reveals the divine intention about man's entire vocation, thus guiding the mind towards a fully human solution of problems." (para. 11) It demonstrates that those values most highly praised today, freedom, truth and conscience find their meaning through their divine origin. But there is a need to underline something here. It is not sufficient simply to say my faith is my free act, my conscience is open to God, but also we must say that these gifts, freedom and conscience, are gifts from God as such. God gives us the means to believe in Him; otherwise we end up believing God is very lucky to have me as one of His believers. There are four sections. The first three, the dignity of the human person, the human community and the significance of human enterprise, form the dialogue between the Church and the world. The fourth assumed Lumen Gentium focus on the Church's role in the world in the light of what has been said beforehand. I The dignity of the human person. The opening comment states that believer and non-believer agree on man as the focus of creation "in the image of God"; "male and female He created them." Question of sin: "What revelation teaches, experience confirms, man looking into his heart finds himself prone to evil and sunk in many evils which cannot come from God." The Revelation of Jesus Christ helps us "understand why man is conscious at the same time of his sublime destiny and profound wretchedness" (para. 13). All the positive comments made about the natural expressions of freedom, truth and conscience have to be related to the ubiquity of sin. Anthropology: man as body and soul, transcends immediate experience. Man also looks for a deeper truth. Through reflection he discerns the law of conscience, i.e., do this, avoid that (recognition of our created status). A law written in his heart by God, where he is alone with God. Fathers quote from Ben Sirach: "God wished to leave man in the power of his own inclination." (15:14) No-one can embrace the good except freely. Man's dignity depends on this free conscious choice as to his purposes, which is neither coerced, nor bound by passion. The believer spontaneously seeks his Creator (para. 16 & 17). This has pastoral implications for running a parish. The secular mind which might accept all the above, fails in front of death. The Church's method is not the same here. Where imagination fails, Revelation shows man is created by God, the source of life (para. 18). This dialogue with the world reveals a common source for all that is most precious, and demonstrates reasonableness in committing oneself to God (para. 19). This gives the key to understanding atheism. If through the human person an opening to God exists, why are so many practical atheists? The Church recognises many sources, both individual and cultural, and the bad example of religious people. It also includes, more prominently now, the lack of disquiet over the human condition (a tiny bit of man claiming to be a whole, Julia Flyte on Rex Mottram in Brideshead Revisited). Historical note on Marxism and systematic atheism, but the reasoning from human autonomy to atheism is still valid (para. 20). Pastoral reflection on penetrating the atheist's mind as to why he / she rejects God, in order to stimulate a recognition that man himself is an unanswered question (para. 21), and that human dignity finds its perfection in communion with God. The method outlined above demonstrates that "the Church knows that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart". Conclusion: Christ is the new man. The convergence of these precious human attributes and the existence of God as Creator find their Incarnation in the historical figure of Jesus Christ. Christ makes man clear to himself. "Christ the new Adam, in revealing the mystery of the Father and his love, makes man fully clear to himself, makes clear his vocation. No wonder then that in Him the above truths find their source and their culmination." (para. 22) Through his Death, Resurrection and donation of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ restores the divine likeness that sin distorted. Through the Incarnation God in Jesus Christ unites Himself with every man. Paragraph 22 is the key passage for Redemptor Hominis being the legacy and explanation of Pope John Paul II, his programme for the Church. Later he will give a more systematic presentation on freedom and conscience in Veritatis Splendor. It is important to remember that Gaudium et Spes was not a systematic treatise, more an agreed 'status quaestionis'. II The community of man. The community of persons is not simply an economic or technological necessity but the desire of God. There is one Creator for one people. Hence the first commandment. Love God and love your neighbour. Taken further through revelation: "May they be one . . . even as we are one." (Jn 17:21-22; para. 24). The Trinity is the model of human community, "being in relation". We see this in the experience of family life: even if the members drive us mad, they are nevertheless the people who give us meaning, we are defined in relation to them. It draws the conclusion from Trinitarian reflection that man cannot find himself except in sincere self-giving. Therefore all human institutions, as visible expressions of the one, should have the person as their beginning and end. Man needs these for his full development especially the family and the political community. The consequence of this: 1. Certain environments and situations are an encouragement to sin (para. 25). 2. Proper access to the necessities of life. This will require change, the management of things should be subordinate to personal values. Does this mean voting for the Labour Party? The Gospel performs a critical function by continually rousing in the heart the demand for dignity. 3. Treat every man as a neighbour, whatever his / her condition. "As you did it the least of these, you did it to me." 4. Respect the views of others without forgetting "to tell the salutary truths" (para. 28), the classical Christian distinction between error and the person in error, between sin and the sinner. 5. Concern with the common good. The further uniting of the world demands a broader commitment. 6. Education to broaden young minds so that they may carry out the works of conscience. The Council Fathers reinforce this by their emphasis on the communitarian dimension of Jesus's ministry. It sanctified family ties and called us brothers / sisters. Ultimately offered Himself for all. III The activity of man in the world at large. It starts on a positive note referring to scientific advance as part of God's design. Man has been commanded to subdue the earth. The world of work should sustain their families and aid society, and thus advance the work of the Creator. In conclusion it says that man's skill and power are not necessarily a rival to God's. However the greater the power the greater the responsibility (para. 34), as man is always created. Human work also affects man as the worker, and through work he can continue to perfect himself. This process is ultimately more important than any paper profit. This section sounds quite naïve now. It is obvious that "who man is" is more important than "what man has." Similarly human progress in brotherhood is more valuable than technical progress. However, is backdoor nationalisation through 'Health & Safety' and the torrent of legislation better than more laissez-faire capitalism? (para. 35) The Council emphasises the rightful "autonomy" of created things. They obey laws, etc., but, and this is the part that tends to be forgotten, they are all part of God's created order and subject to God's law. (Each subject has its own wisdom dimension - the discovery of the laws or values of any academic discipline or science. This discovery can open the human subject up to the Creator - Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio.) In conclusion, no-one can use the created world for his or her own selfish desires, as if it were autonomous from God. The Church does have a critical role to play in the world. It is not a matter of abandoning the world of enterprise but of purifying man the worker through Christ's Cross and Resurrection. Christ showed that the transformation of the world is the new commandment of love, the putting aside of self-interest. The way of love is open to all in the small and large circumstances of life (para. 38). We begin here to see the theme of Christian witness that will dominate the second part. The desire to better this world does not clash with the expectation of the world to come. There is not a simple correlation between human enterprise and the advancement of the Kingdom of God, though the bettering of human society is very much in the interest of the Kingdom of God (para. 39). IV The Church's function in the contemporary world. The subjects of the dialogue between the Church and the world have been discussed above. The Church is described as leaven in the world. The Church through preaching salvation illuminates the conditions mentioned above, enhancing human dignity, reinforcing the social structure and giving deeper meaning to man's everyday task. There is both a grand and humble quality to the Church's task in the world. Through her mission she keeps alive for non-religious men the deepest questions. Only the Church continues to maintain the dignity of man despite fluctuating fashions. The Gospel message on liberty and conscience emphasises that the divine order does not take away from the rightful autonomy of man but brings it to completion. "The power of the Church consists simply of that faith and charity brought to bear on life." (para. 42) One of the more pressing issues today is the breach between faith and daily life. The Church associates with the concerns of humanity, in the building up of solidarity. All Christians should exercise their earthly talents after the example of Jesus the carpenter. The Church has limited competence in the professional issues of the world, but priests should give light and form the conscience of the laity, to be able to make the right decisions at the right time. There is a perennial danger of leaving things to the experts. Each of the following sections ends with an emphasis on the witness given by Christians, the followers of Christ. Through their lives they bear witness to the unity between human liberty and the teaching of the Church. Part II The document now applies these guiding principles established above, the convergence of human aspirations and God's will through the revelation of Jesus Christ. I The dignity of marriage and the family. The family is at the heart of the human and social order. Contemporary difficulties make the Council highlight certain issues. The document talks about the duty of procreation and repeats the condemnation of unacceptable means of birth regulation, but it is not an extended thesis. We need to see later documents such as Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio. Husband and wife minister to each other in a special way through the joining of their persons and activities. It demands full fidelity and argues for their indissoluble unity. The lasting fidelity reflects the fidelity of Christ to the Church. It is a life-giving place for sanctification. The sacrament enriches this rational personal act, described as "a special endowment of grace and charity." It takes exceptional virtue to live up to this Christian vocation. There is a need to be fortified with the life of grace for a constancy of love, largeness of mind and spirit of sacrifice. Procreation of children is central to a marriage but united with the other "ends" of marriage, personal sanctification and the good of the Church. "Hence the proper cultivation of married love and the whole character of family life arising from it have the tendency, without thrusting into the background the other purposes of marriage, of disposing married people to co-operate courageously with the love of the Creator and Saviour, who through them continually enlarges and enriches His own family." (para. 50) It goes on to say that they should fulfil their duty with human and Christian responsibility, being guided by conscience and conformed to the divine law. The divine law, the rationality that fosters married love, also governs the transmission of life. There are objective standards, not simply sincere intentions; conduct bears on eternal destiny. The questions of abortion and contraception will be covered in more detail in later documents (Humanae Vitae and later still Evangelium Vitae). It particularly emphasises support for the recently married. II The proper promotion of cultural progress. The mention of culture as a subject matter for the teachings of the Church is new. The Council Fathers were searching how best to express these issues, and this section has both been developed in later documents and criticised for having a too simplistic view about culture. Culture is the totality of man's achievements, spiritual experiences, and their communication and preservation. "Every human community has its own patrimony of traditional institutions." We are all part of a historical movement. 1. The condition of culture in the modern world. The 1960s ushered in a new age, categorised through the advance of science, the advance of psychology, the development of history, to name a few. There was increasing exchange and uniformity. The demands of a new humanism (para. 55) are coupled with an anxiety about many aspects of this new situation. The Council does not recognise the downside of cultural exchange that destroys cultures and the destruction of tradition. 2. Certain principles for rightly promoting culture. Christians have their eyes on the world to come, but this requires building up the human world on earth and is part of the vocation to subdue the earth, and make it yield fruit and become a fit place to live in (para. 57). Through intellectual work man's mind can rise up to God in wonder being opened up to revelation: "the grace that enlightens all men." (Jn 1:9- 10) All too often the advances of science blind one to these glimpses of wonder, but the Church has nothing to fear from scientific endeavour as such. Through the ties between the message of salvation and human culture God progressively reveals himself down through time to the incarnation of His Son. The Church has preached in many cultures and settings. The Church also animates/ purifies different cultures. There is a danger here in implying that there is an impersonal force in the improvement of culture. It suggests that modern is always better than old, making one want to assume the opposite. Culture springs from the rational and social nature of man so there is a need to cultivate the mind to sustain culture, increasing the capacity for wonder, inward scrutiny, contemplation and personal judgment by developing a moral and religious sense. This can only really take place freely, but also the Church recognises the rightful autonomy of human culture and especially of the sciences (para. 59) but only within the bounds of morality. 3. Certain more urgent duties of Christians in the matter of culture. The right to a civilised way of life makes it a duty to ensure public decisions are taken that foster culture. This leads to a focus on education, especially higher education. The explosion of knowledge has made the universal man a thing of the past, but we have a duty to keep in view the human person as a whole, i.e., the values of intelligence, will, conscience and brotherhood. The source is God. The task of theologians is to present the same faith in new ways and how to understand recent scientific discoveries. The Council fathers were conscious that the Church should support novelists and artists who seek to understand the human person. They expressed the vain hope for new art in the sanctuary. III Social and economic life. The centre of all social and economic life is the dignity of the person, and the integrity of his vocation. "Man is the author, the centre, and the end of all social and economic life." (para. 63) Today the economy has greater control over nature, it becomes ever more complex and ever more interdependent, thus leading to greater political control over economic activity. Economic activity has exacerbated economic difficulties and led to contempt of the poor. The Church has established principles of justice for individual, social and international life. These principles should be the ground of any reform in economic life, and form Her critique of all current practices. 1. Economic progress. Economic progress is at the service of man, not increasing for its own good. Economic activity has "its own methods and laws within the bounds of the moral order." (para. 64) The Church strikes a middle way between a command economy (which subordinates the individual to the collective) and a free market (a false liberty). In its comments on economic injustice the emphasis on agriculture reveals a worldwide audience. A topical point about the need to find markets for their produce. (para. 66) 2. Some principles governing social and economic life as a whole. Human labour is the chief element in economic life as man ultimately does all work. It is connected with the redemptive work of Christ; there is an obligation to work loyally, and a right to work. (para 67) Work as a common enterprise. The care of workers. A share in the management of an enterprise, the necessary establishment of trade unions. Goods of the earth are for the use of all and should be regulated by justice and charity. Ultimately all goods belong to all men; do possess a right to goods sufficient for themselves and their family. (para. 69) The primacy of the person leads to the demands of charity: "Feed a man dying from hunger and if you have not fed him you have killed him." Gratian. Not giving just from the surplus. There is a caution about welfare payments. They may become a disincentive to work and a disinclination to serve others. (Not something one has heard the bishops mention recently.) Private property is a condition of civil liberties. Public ownership of private property is only legitimate within the bounds of the common good. (para. 72) Christians should maintain the right scale of values in the world's business, faithful to Christ and his Gospel, so that their whole life, personal and social, may be full of the spirit of the Beatitudes, and particularly of poverty. (para. 72) IV The life of the political community. The contemporary situation is about building a juridical-political order in which rights affecting public life are safeguarded, e.g., freedom of expression, freedom of religion. "The safeguarding of personal rights is indispensable if citizens are to take part, singly or in association, in public life and government." (para. 73) As a prerequisite political life is fostered by a sense of goodwill, justice and public service, and by the strengthening of convictions about the true nature of the political community and the purpose / limits of public authority. It is a worthwhile enterprise because political community is needed for the fostering of human life and the common good, from which it draws its legitimacy. The political community is founded in human nature and thus belongs to the order determined by God. Consequently it must be carried out within the moral order. If so then the citizen is in conscience bound to obey. The defence of rights against an over-arching government cannot include withholding what is due to the common good. There are duties both ways, government to peoples, but the people are involved with the government through voting. Government must recognise the value of the family and associations which are intermediate institutions. It is very perceptive about what this government wishes to destroy. Peoples must recognise that governments cannot do everything (para. 75). Political parties should not put their own advantage before the common good (para. 76). Christians have a key role in the political community to demonstrate conscientious attention to general welfare showing the connection between public authority and personal liberty and the relationship between personal initiative and social solidarity. The Church is the sign in any society that the person ultimately transcends the field of politics. The Church does not need temporal power in order to do so. V Fostering peace and promoting the international community. The international situation requires a conversion to bring peoples together, the aspiration of many. The Church can provide this focus. All Christians should work together for the establishment of peace. This peace is not the absence of war, but "the work of justice" (para. 78). The fruit of divine order built into human society, but needs to be refashioned in every age owing to sin and changed situations. Peace is also the fruit of love and brotherhood, again something made visible in the Cross. So Christians should speak the truth in love. 1. Avoiding war. This chapter begins by rehearsing the natural law arguments for a just war. Governments have the right to self-defence and need to conduct war within conventions. Not everything is legitimate once hostilities have broken out. Atomic weapons have created a new situation. The document quotes Pope John XXIII: "Thus in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violations of justice." The armaments race is no way to safeguard humanity. The money should be spent on relieving destitution. Peace is born of mutual trust, not imposed by terror. It believes in the establishment of a world order to safeguard justice and ban war. The Church should support all those seeking for peace. The Church recognises the need of education and thus bringing together the peoples with their leaders. 2. Setting up the international community. The requirements of peace can only be established by rooting out the causes of dissension among men, especially injustice at the level of the person, society, national and international. The world today is becoming more international. International brotherhood demands greater international economic co-operation, especially the poorer nations, in trade, manpower and finance. Four points for development: 1. The human development of the native peoples is essential, having their own genius and tradition. 2. All business done by the developed world with the Third World should have their interests at heart. 3. Subsidies should be effectively used. 4. Economic structures need revising but with a concern for the spiritual and not just economic. Christians should participate in this process of development. Christ calls on the charity of His followers. (para. 88) Conclusion. The Church is there to better help all men, believers or not, to find their vocation, to build a world that better reflects the dignity of man, to foster a wider brotherhood. The desire to unite all people must be reflected in the unity within the Church, the promotion of mutual esteem within the Church. Therefore we should also look for unity between the Churches. Work of unity beyond just the ecclesial: "It is the Father's will that we recognise and really love Christ our brother in all people . . . thereby witnessing to the truth, and that we share with others the mystery of the heavenly Father's love." (para. 93)