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Gaudium et Spes. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. Outline of Presentation. Background Context of the document Story of the doc’s drafting Structure of final draft Significant Shifts and Innovations Compromises and Weaknesses Remaining Issues for the Church

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gaudium et spes

Gaudium et Spes

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation
  • Background Context of the document
  • Story of the doc’s drafting
  • Structure of final draft
  • Significant Shifts and Innovations
  • Compromises and Weaknesses
  • Remaining Issues for the Church
  • The Enduring Symbolic Value of GS
general remarks
General Remarks
  • not among the preparatory documents for the council
  • emerged from the floor of the council
  • by far the longest of the sixteen documents
  • the only document published with subtitles

promulgated the very last working day of the Council

  • addressed to all humanity (not just to Catholics, or Christians)
  • came to be symbolic of the Council’s “style”
    • dialogic
    • collaborative
    • participative
previous social teaching encyclicals
Previous Social Teaching Encyclicals
  • from Rerum Novarum (1891) to Pacem in Terris (1963)
    • using a “deductive” methodology, these documents attempted to ground social teaching on the prior foundation of a philosophical and theological anthropology
      • couched in the categories of Scholastic Theology
      • appealed to “natural law”
  • GS will come to use a more “inductive” method (but with elements of the old)
history of the drafting
History of the Drafting
  • at the very end of the first session (4 Dec 1962), a plan for the Council’s program was proposed by Cardinal Josef Suenens
    • a focus not only on the church “ad intra” (the internal life of the church)
    • but also on the church “ad extra” (the church and its mission in the world)
history cont d
History (cont’d)
  • the long list of topics for the council’s discussion was then revised and reduced according to this plan
  • no. 17 on the list was “Schema XVII”
  • later became “Schema XIII”
  • then finally “Gaudium et Spes”
ad intra ad extra distinction
“Ad intra” / “Ad extra” Distinction
  • While this distinction was helpful for dividing up the workload of the Council,
  • it can be a misleading distinction
  • IF it is taken to mean that “church” and “world” are like oil and water
  • This issue of how to best name the relationship plagues the whole debate
  • and remains somewhat unresolved in GS
  • The world is not something apart from the church, nor the church from the world
the drafting commission
The Drafting Commission
  • A “Mixed Commission”
    • drawn from members of the
      • Doctrinal Commission
      • Commission for the Lay Apostolate
  • but various sub-commissions were set up to deal with the many sections

the various drafts were prepared in French, and then translated into Latin

  • fourth session: translations provided in the major European languages (first time)
theological tensions
Theological tensions
  • a significant influence of the French-speaking theologians
    • Chenu, Congar
  • tension with the theological vision of the German-speaking theologians
    • Rahner, Ratzinger
structure of the final version
Structure of the final version
  • Preface and Introduction (1-3; 4-10)
  • Part 1: The Church and the Human Vocation
    • Introduction: Responding to the Promptings of the Spirit (11)
    • Chapter 1: The Dignity of the Human Person
    • Chapter 2: The Human Community
    • Chapter 3: Humanity’s Activity in the Universe
    • Chapter 4: Role of the Church in Today’s World
structure cont d
Structure (cont’d)
  • Part 2: Some More Urgent Problems
    • Preface (46)
    • Chapter 1: The Dignity of Marriage and the Family (47-52)
    • Chapter 2: Proper Development of Culture (53-62)
    • Chapter 3: Economic and Social Life (63-72)
    • Chapter 4: The Political Community (73-76)
    • Chapter 5: Fostering Peace and Establishment of a Community of Nations (77-90)
  • Conclusion: Role of Individual Christians and of Local Churches (91-93)
a pastoral constitution
A “Pastoral” Constitution
  • John XXIII’s original desire that the Council have a “pastoral” focus
  • Special footnote on the significance of title:
    • “The constitution is called ‘pastoral’ because, while resting on doctrinal principles, it sets out the relation of the church to the world and to the people of today. In Part I, therefore, the pastoral emphasis is not overlooked, nor is the doctrinal emphasis overlooked in Part II.”
    • The “doctrinal” principles (Part 1) and the “pastoral” applications (Part 2) are intertwined
four interrelated levels of doctrine
Four Interrelated Levels of Doctrine
  • 1. Anthropology
    • the “nature” of the human person
    • GS, 3: “It is the human person, therefore, which is the key to this discussion, each individual human person in here of his totality, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will.”
  • 2. Christian Ethics in Contemporary Society
    • the nature of moral human action

3. Ecclesiology

    • the nature and mission of the church
      • GS, 3: “The church is not motivated by earthly ambition but is interested in one thing only – to carry on the work of Christ under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”
    • Gaudium et Spes as complement to Lumen Gentium

4. Christology

    • the human and divine natures of Christ
    • any teaching on the nature of the human person is to be grounded in teaching about Christ as the model for human personhood
    • GS, 10: “The church believes that the key, the centre and the purpose of the whole of human history is to be found in its Lord and Master.”
interrelated leitmotifs
Interrelated Leitmotifs
  • “solidarity”
  • “dialogue”
  • “reading the signs of the times”
  • GS, 1: “The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community of people united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit in their pilgrimage towards the Father’s kingdom, bearers of a message of salvation for all humanity. That is why they cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history.”
  • the motif of the divine-human dialogue
  • the motif of church’s “dialogue with the world”
  • a church open to learning (GS 44)
paul vi and the dialogue motif
Paul VI and the Dialogue motif
  • Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam
    • 6 August 1964 (during the third session)
  • the influence of “personalist” philosophies
    • Gabriel Marcel
    • Martin Buber
GS, 3
  • “And so the council… can find no more eloquent expression of this people’s solidarity, respect and love for the whole human family, of which it forms a part, than to enter into dialogue with it about all these various problems, throwing the light of the Gospel on them and supplying humanity with the saving resources which the church has received from its founder under the promptings of the Holy Spirit.”
gs 92
GS 92
  • Four concentric circles of dialogue
    • dialogue within the church itself
    • dialogue with other Christians
    • dialogue with other religious believers
    • dialogue with non-believers
reading the signs of the times
Reading “the signs of the times”
  • starting with contemporary context (inductive method)
  • attentiveness to the God of history
  • GS 4
  • GS 11
  • GS 44
GS 4
  • “To discharge this function [with the guidance of the Paraclete Spirit, to continue the work of Christ (GS, 3)], the church has the duty in every age of examining the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the gospel, so that it can offer in a manner appropriate to each generation replies to the continual human questionings on the meaning of this life and the life to come and on how they are related. There is a need, then, to be aware of, and to understand, the world in which we live, together with its expectations, its desires and its frequently dramatic character.”
gs 11
GS 11
  • “Impelled by its belief that it is being led by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the whole earth, God’s people works to discern the true signs of God’s presence and purpose in the events, needs and desires which it shares with the rest of modern humanity. It is faith which shows everything in a new light and clarifies God’s purpose in his complete calling of the human race, thus pointing the mind towards solutions which are fully human…
gs 11 cont d
GS 11 (cont’d)
  • … The council’s first aim is to subject the values most highly regarded today to this light and to relate them to their divine source, since these values are very good insofar as they proceed from the God-given character of the human person, but are in need of purification from the distortion they often receive from the corruption of the human heart…
gs 11 cont d1
GS 11 (cont’d)
  • … What is the church’s view of woman and man? What does it consider is to be commended in constructing today’s society? What is the ultimate significance of human activity in the world as a whole? These questions require answers which will show more clearly that the people of God and the human race of which it is a part are of service to each other, and that the church’s mission is seen to be a religious one and by that very fact an outstandingly human one.”
gs 44
GS 44
  • “It is for God’s people as a whole, with the help of the Holy Spirit, and especially for pastors and theologians, to listen to the various voices of our day, discerning them and interpreting them, and to evaluate them in the light of the divine word, so that the revealed truth can be increasingly appropriated, better understood and more suitably expressed.”
gs 62
GS 62
  • meaning/expression of doctrine
  • “evaluating and interpreting everything with an authentically Christian sense of values”
  • “it is hoped that more of the laity will receive adequate theological formation and that some of them will dedicate themselves professionally to these studies and contribute to their advancement. But for the proper exercise of this role, the faithful, both clerical and lay, should be accorded a lawful freedom of inquiry, of thought, and of expression, tempered by humility and courage in whatever branch of study they have specialized.”
three major innovations
Three Major Innovations
  • primarily a Biblical vision
  • an increased historical awareness
  • a relating of the Church’s mission and its social vision
1 a biblical vision
1. A Biblical Vision
  • a biblical vision more than “natural law”
  • an appeal to revelation
    • and secondarily an appeal to the order that God has inscribed in human nature
2 historical awareness
2. Historical Awareness
  • Deductive methodology
    • from general unchanging principles to their application
      • from abstract natural law to concrete new situations
  • the rise of “historical consciousness” (19-20th centuries)
    • an appreciation of the changing historical conditions of social, cultural and political spheres
    • all elements of the human situation are conditioned by history
inductive methodology
Inductive methodology
  • from an examination of the concrete situation to the application of the Gospel in that situation
  • What are the features problems of the contemporary world that require solutions?
    • GS 5: “The human race is moving from a more static view of things to one which is more dynamic and evolutionary, giving rise to new combinations of problems which call for new analyses and syntheses.”
  • an emerging methodology of the council
3 relating the church s mission and its social vision
3. Relating the Church’s mission and its social vision
  • Lumen Gentium: the church “ad intra”
    • looking “to within”
    • what is the nature of the church?
  • Gaudium et Spes: the church “ad extra”
    • looking “to outside”
    • given the nature of the church, what is the mission of the church?
the mission of the church
The Mission of the Church
  • “the religious mission” of the church
    • to proclaim and to realize the Reign of God
  • The Reign of God is to permeate all aspects of human life and society
  • Shift: from church as an end in itself
    • to church as a servant of the Reign of God
gs 40 42
GS, 40-42
  • Part One, Chapter IV
  • summary of the basis of the church’s social mission
four specific tasks of the church s proper mission
Four Specific Tasksof the Church’s Proper Mission
  • to defend human dignity
  • to promote human rights
  • to cultivate the unity of the human family
  • to make clear the meaning of human life
relation of the church to the reign of god
Relation of the Church to the Reign of God
  • the church is not equivalent to the Reign of God
  • related, however, in two ways
    • the Reign of God transcends every political authority
      • therefore, the religious mission is to critique political ideology
    • the Reign of God relates to diverse dimensions of social and economic reality
      • therefore, the religious mission is related to the right ordering of the social and economic order
summary of shifts in church teaching
Summary of Shifts in Church Teaching
  • Methodology
    • from deductive to inductive
  • Historical Consciousness
    • from “ahistorical” to an historical approach

Evolutionary not static view of reality

    • GS, 5: “The human race is moving from a more static view of things to one which is more dynamic and evolutionary, giving rise to new combinations of problems which call for new analyses and syntheses.”
  • Modernity
    • From rejection of modernity to engagement with its strengths
shifts cont d
Shifts (cont’d)
  • The “world”
    • from the world as Godless to the world as the place of God’s redeeming activity
  • Natural Law
    • parallel to the inductive/more historical approach
  • Notion of the human person
    • a move away from an eternal “nature” of the human person, to one historically situated

Church and State

    • from achieving “Christendom” to the Church as leaven, as prophetic witness
  • Conscience
  • War

Marriage: from “contract” to “covenant”

    • previous legalistic framework
      • contract
    • shift to a personalist framework
      • intimate partnership and covenant
    • the “ends” of marriage
      • not only reproduction and the rearing of children
      • also conjugal love
other docs the social mission
Other Docs the social mission
  • (1) Decree on Laity
    • Laity have a twofold role
      • to work for evangelization
      • to renew the temporal order
    • Presupposition
      • Christ’s work of redemption is primarily related to the salvation of the human being
      • but involves “the renewal of the whole temporal order” (AA, 5-7)
    • a shift in the theology of grace: from extrinsic to intrinsic
(2) Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity
    • to work for Christ’s redemption includes “the right ordering of social and economic affairs”
    • the church’s missionary activity involves collaborating with all peoples
      • for eliminating hunger, disease, ignorance
      • for establishing peace and justice and “human” working conditions for workers (AG, 12)
some weaknesses and open questions
Some Weaknesses and Open Questions
  • overly optimistic about “progress”
    • too “60s”
    • not enough emphasis on evil and the effects of original sin
  • ecological crisis not mentioned
    • in fact, a perpetuation of some of the mentality causing it

“Little attention is given in the document to environmental pollution, the depletion of non-renewable resources, and general environmental exploitation. The council fathers’ language concerning nature and the relation of humankind to nature is rather disturbing. Humanity should “consolidate its control over creation” (9), “subject to himself the earth and all that it contains” (34), “subdue the earth” (57), and hold “increasing domination over nature” (63)… The council fathers seem oblivious both to the environmental problems already evident in the world and the impact of framing the human/nature relationship in terms of domination.” (Lois Ann Lorentzen)

issues taken off the agenda by paul vi
Issues taken off the agenda by Paul VI
  • divorce
  • mixed marriages
  • birth control