Gaudium Et Spes: The Development and Implementation of the Church’s Role in Evangelization in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World
- The Jurist: Studies in Church Law and Ministry
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 71, Number 1, 2011
- pp. 91-119
- View Citation
- Additional Information
GAUDIUM ET SPES: THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CHURCH’S ROLE IN EVANGELIZATION IN THE PASTORAL CONSTITUTION ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD Sean O. Sheridan, TOR* Fifty years have passed since January 25, 1959, when during an address to select cardinals at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Pope John XXIII stunned the world and announced his plan to convene a church council. “Trembling a little with emotion but at the same time humbly resolute in my purpose, I announce to you a double celebration which I propose to undertake: a diocesan synod for the City and a general Council for the universal Church.”1 With these words, Pope John XXIII set into motion more than three years of planning and preparation for the council that would come to be known as Vatican II. Despite the years of planning and preparation, as Vatican II began, there was no formal plan in place to address the relationship between the Church and the world. This was due in part to the fact that initially there was no formal plan at all for the council. It was further due to the fact that the format for Gaudium et spes2 (hereafter “GS”), the document that addresses that relationship, emerged from within the council, as the fathers began to recognize the significance of the issues that GS addresses. Notably , Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II, was one of the chief contributors to GS; and it influenced his thinking throughout the rest of his life.3 This article will track the development and implementation of GS, commonly known as The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the The Jurist 71 (2011) 91–119 91 * School of Canon Law, Catholic University of America 1 Giuseppe Alberigo, “The Announcement of the Council from the Security of the Fortress to the Lure of the Quest,” in History of Vatican II, vol. I, eds. Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, 5 vols. (hereafter History of Vatican II) (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1995) 1. 2 Vatican Council II, Pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes, December 7, 1965: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 58 (1966) 1025. English translation in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, vol. II, ed. Norman P. Tanner, 2 vols. (hereafter Tanner, Decrees, 2) (London and Washington: Sheed & Ward and Georgetown University Press, 1990) 1069 3 George Weigel, Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999) 166, 169. 92 the jurist Modern World, particularly as it relates to the Church’s evangelization activity and its select provisions that address certain principles of Catholic education. We will address first the state of affairs in the Church prior to Vatican II to indicate the vision, or lack thereof, of the Church vis-à-vis the world at that time and subsequently the structure of GS and how its key themes developed during the council. To assist us in ascertaining how effectively these provisions have been implemented, we will briefly consider Pope John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae4 (hereafter “EcE”), on Catholic universities. I. The State of Affairs Regarding Church-World Relations Prior to Promulgation of Gaudium et Spes Many people believed that with the promulgation of the documents of the First Vatican Council in 1869–1870, which strongly emphasized the authority of the Roman Pontiff, ecumenical councils would be an historical footnote never again to be conducted in the life of the Church. “An ecumenical council was no longer part of the Catholic Church’s experience . Vatican I, which had been a very special kind of meeting in the list of the councils, was only a distant memory. The expectation of the new event was as great as the lack of experience of the dynamics and scope of a council.”5 Thus, the mere fact that Pope John XXIII called for a council to take place greatly surprised the world and continued to do so during the years of preparations. A. The Start of Vatican II Prior to the start of Vatican II, the members of the Roman curia prepared seventy-two draft documents for the council fathers to study. Yet 4 John Paul II, apostolic constitution Ex corde...