23 March 2013

Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes VI

Into uncharted waters here -- the sixth post on one of the Vatican II constitutions!  This has to be the last one, though...the tentative plan is a Palm Sunday post tomorrow, Dei Verbum Monday and Tuesday, and the remaining days of Holy Week as they come.

After marriage and the family, the Fathers next examine economic development and political order through the lens of the Church's teachings.  Much of this section is fairly predictable and reminiscent of earlier papal writings on economic matters: economic progress should be for the betterment of the whole world, not just wealthy nations.  The Fathers make it clear that the Church has a role to play in the world order that is separate from that played by civil governments, but still related:

It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails, that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church. 
The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any way with the political community nor bound to any political system. She is at once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person. 
The Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and independent from each other. Yet both, under different titles, are devoted to the personal and social vocation of the same men.
From here, the Fathers turn to a discussion of war and peace.  It should not be surprising that the Fathers plead for peace in the world.  However, this is not the free love hippie idea of peace -- true peace comes from knowing God the Father and Our Lord Jesus Christ:
That earthly peace which arises from love of neighbor symbolizes and results from the peace of Christ which radiates from God the Father. For by the cross the incarnate Son, the prince of peace reconciled all men with God. By thus restoring all men to the unity of one people and one body, He slew hatred in His own flesh; and, after being lifted on high by His resurrection, He poured forth the spirit of love into the hearts of men.
While not explicitly calling for the establishment of a worldwide government, the Fathers do state that cooperation among nations and international organizations are vital for the establishment of peace.

That's all for Gaudium et Spes.  The end is in sight!

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