MIJARC joins the celebration of 5o Years of Gaudium Et Spes (Church In The Modern World) conciliar document, In Rome
Dear Mijarc Members. This year, 2015, marks the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Council II’s adoption of the conciliar document, Gaudium et Spes of 7th December 1965, and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace wishes to celebrate the document’s contribution, generally to the life of the Church, but particularly to the stimulus that it has given to the Church’s engagement with society and the social order. Mijarc President Krishnarkar Kummari and Claire Quintin the Secretary General will represent MIJARC at the Rome gathering, scheduled to take place from 5-6 November 2015.
Historical background of the document
Gaudium et spes (Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈɡawdium et ˈspɛs], Joy and Hope), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, was one of the four constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council. The document is 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.
Approved by a vote of 2,307 to 75 of the bishops assembled at the council, it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 7 December 1965, the day the council ended. As is customary with Catholic documents, the title is taken from its incipit in Latin:
Gaudium et spes, luctus et angor hominum huius temporis, pauperum praesertim et quorumvis afflictorum, gaudium sunt et spes, luctus et angor etiam Christi discipulorum ....
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.
The document was not drafted before the council met, but arose from the floor of the council and was one of the last to be promulgated. Pope John XXIII, being deathly ill at the time, was forced to watch the proceedings on closed circuit television. He was too sick to attend, and died within months.
The previous Vatican Council in 1869-70 had tried to defend the role of the church in an increasingly secular world. Those who interpret the purpose of the Second Council as one of embracing this world use Gaudium et spes as the primary hermeneutic for all its documents. One of the cardinals, Leo Joseph Suenens of Belgium, urged the council to take on social responsibility for Third World suffering, international peace and war, and the poor.
Marie-Dominique Chenu, famed professor of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum was influential in the composition of Gaudium et spes.
Major Themes that are contained in the First part of the document
In the first part of the document it is clearly stated that the council intends first of all to assess by that light those values such as the dignity of the human person and the role of the Church in the Modern World which are most highly prized today and to relate them to their divine source. For such values are very good, in so far as they stem from the God-given character of the human person. However, we still face the imperfection and disorderliness of human nature. Of particular concern are the following major themes. And under each main theme are subthemes.
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON - Women and Men in the Image of God, Humanity's Essential Nature, Dignity of the Intellect, of Truth, and of Wisdom, Dignity of Moral Conscience, The Excellence of Freedom, The Mystery of Death, Kinds of Atheism and Its Causes, Systematic Atheism, The Attitude of the Church Towards Atheism, and Christ the New Man.
THE HUMAN COMMUNITY- Communitarian Nature of the Human Vocation, God’s Design, Person and Society: Interdependence, The Common Good, Respect for the Human Person, Respect and Love for Enemies, Essential Equality of All: Social Justice, Need to Transcend an Individualistic Morality, Responsibility and Participation, The Word Made Flesh and Human Solidarity.
HUMANITY’S ACTIVITY IN THE UNIVERSE - In the face of this immense enterprise now involving the whole human race people face many worrying questions. These include: What is the meaning and value of this feverish activity? How ought all of these things to be used? To what goal is all this individual and collective enterprise heading?
Value of Human Activity, Regulation of Human Activity, Rightful Autonomy of Earthly Affairs, Human Activity Infected by Sin. Human Activity: Its Fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery.
ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD- The council intends to consider the presence of the church in the world, and its life and activity there, in the light of what it has already declared about the mystery of the church.
Other topics involve, that the Church Offers to Individuals, What the Church Offers to Society, What the Church Offers to Human Activity Through its Members, What the Church Receives from the Modern World and Christ: Alpha and Omega.
As the Church commemorates the golden jubilee of Gaudium et spes, MIJARCS members and its affiliates are being called upon to constantly and deeply reflect on these important principles espoused in the conciliar document.
Together, we can live even today in the spirit of the document despite the many challenges that the church continues to face. Let us act together to make the world a better place to live.
May, Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ intercede for us in our daily struggles.
Rev.Dr. Fr. Obino C Mulenga
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