Gaudium et Spes: Joy and Hope – The Church in the Modern World 43 Years Later
by Carla Mae Streeter, OP
This article is taken from the ITEST 40th Anniversary Conference Proceedings – September 2008. It appears in the book, Faith-Science-Culture: A 40 Year Retrospective, Converging or Diverging Realities, Postiglione, RSM, Marianne and Sheahen, Thomas P. (Eds.)
Vatican II went through a firestorm with its primary document on the Church. The schema left over from Vatican I’s unaddressed business was brought to the floor, only to receive the scathing critique of Bishop De Smet that it was riddled with triumphalism, legalism, and clericalism, and could not be used as it was. When the schema returned to the floor, the beautiful Lumen Gentium document was the result. But it was not enough. The bishops realized the document dealt with the Church’s inner life, not its mission to the world. And so a second document was crafted. Its title was to be Gaudium et Spes, in English, The Church in the Modern World. Little known and even less implemented, this second document on the Church in the midst of the world holds a vision not only for the Church. It offers a vision and a challenge to humanity.