Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Documents of Vatican II – Gaudium et Spes – Part 3

The first part of Gaudium et Spes, entitled “The Church and Man's Vocation,” discusses four main themes in four chapters: the dignity of human beings, the community of mankind, human activity, and the Church's role in the modern world.

Here are a few topics and ideas you'll find in Part I, Chapter II, of Gaudium et Spes.

Chapter II – The Community of Mankind

Intention of the Council

* In the modern world, people are developing intense personal relationships, but this fellowship must be based on mutual respect and foster the dignity of human beings. The Council intends to present the Church's teaching about human society.

Communitarian Nature of Man's Vocation: Design of God

* God created human beings to form one family, and all people are created in the likeness of God and are destined for the same end, namely, God.

* There is a parallel between the union of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity and the union of the children of God: self-giving love.

Person and Society: Interdependence

* There must always be a proper balance between personal development and societal needs. People need society, but the individual must always be “the beginning, the subject and the object of every social organization.” Society is made for people, not people for society.

The Common Good

* The common good is the “sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily.”

* All people must work toward the common good but must also balance that common good with each person's human dignity and individual rights.

* The “order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons.” People come first, and society must be founded on truth, justice, freedom, and love.

Respect for the Person

* Respect for the human being is absolutely necessary, and “everyone should look upon his another self.”

Respect and Love for Enemies

* Christians respect and love those who are different and even those who are opposed to them, treating them with kindness, forgiving them, and entering into dialogue with them even as they proclaim Christian truth.

* “God alone is the judge and the searcher of hearts: He forbids us to pass judgment on the inner guilt of others.”

Essential Equality of All Men: Social Justice

* All people are created in the image of God and share the same nature. All are called to the same destiny, eternal life with God. All individuals, therefore, share “basic equality” in spite of their “rightful differences.”

* Christians must work for “fairer and more humane conditions,” secure basic human rights and human dignity, and fight against discrimination.

Need to Transcend an Individualistic Morality

* All people have the obligation to “contribute to the common good.”

* Individualistic morality ignores essential social obligations and the duties all people have to care for each other.

Responsibility and Participation

* Education helps produce men and women of high culture and great personality.

* All people have a responsibility to participate in society according to their abilities in service to God and to their neighbors.

The Word Made Flesh and Human Society

* God created human beings to live in social unity as His people.

* Jesus shared in human fellowship and used “the most ordinary things of social life” to illustrate His teachings.

* Jesus taught that, as the family of God, Christians must treat each other with love and mutual service.

* The Church is the Body of Christ, and all members exist in communion with each other.

The full text of Gaudium et Spes is available online at the Vatican website.

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