Since we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the closing of The Second Vatican Council. Here is a quick look at Gaudium et Spes: The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. This document was developed totally within the Council and offers an overview of the Catholic Church’s teachings about humanity’s relationship to society, especially in reference to economics, poverty, social justice, culture, science, technology and ecumenism. The Council wishes that Christians, live in the real world by following the spirit of the Gospel.
Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) is a major development in church documents as Charles Curran points out there is a shift that grace, faith, redemption, the Gospel, Jesus and the Spirit affect and influence life in the world. Simply put the world and social issues are both natural/physical and spiritual. The Constitution is only 93 paragraphs long and the second longest of the Constitutions of Vatican II. Gaudium et Spes is divided into three main parts Introduction: The Situation of Men in the Modern World, Part 1: The Church and Man’s Calling and Part 2: Some Problems of Special Urgency.
In the Introduction the bishops of the world begin by saying that “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.” The church has the duty to scrutinize the signs of the times and reflect them back through the light of the Gospel. A way that the church can do this is by living by the beatitudes.
Part One begins with the idea that we are all created in God’s image and as a social being. However humankind has been tempted by evil over the ages one of these concerns is Atheism as dignity lies in communion with God. The focus then shifts to Human communities where we all work for a common good.
Part Two looks at areas of special concern focusing on marriage and the family, human progress, life in its economic, social and political dimensions, the bonds between the family of nations, and peace. Marriage and family: Families are the foundation of society and divorce, free love and other things are destructive to marriage. Culture: a new culture must evolve to develop the whole person. Politics: Politicians need to work for the common good, The Church and politics serve the people not the other way around. Peace: humanity is a a crisis point with modern weapons, we should strive for non-violence and peace where we can build up an international community.