Gaudium et Spes 55

Let’s have a double-shot of Gaudium et Spes today, shall we? We complain a good bit about secular humanism. The bishops seem to forward the notion that a Christian humanism has a place in our efforts:

From day to day, in every group or nation, there is an increase in the number of men and women who are conscious that they themselves are the authors and the artisans of the culture of their community. Throughout the whole world there is a mounting increase in the sense of autonomy as well as of responsibility. This is of paramount importance for the spiritual and moral maturity of the human race. This becomes more clear if we consider the unification of the world and the duty which is imposed upon us, that we build a better world based upon truth and justice. Thus we are witnesses of the birth of a new humanism, one in which (human beings are) defined first of all by this responsibility to (their sisters and) brothers and to history.

A few comments:

- I think the optimism of the statement, “I can make a difference,” has faded somewhat from the West. If anything extremist martyrs seem to have a stronger sense that by suicide terrorism, they can make a bigger difference. When evil coopts one of your best philosophies, you have a problem.

- The GS bishops can hardly be considered reckless: they insist on the balance of personal expression and individualism with a sense of a greater responsibility to the human family.

- As much as I would like to say that a post-WWII sense of “truth and justice” has taken root in the world, I have to confess my cynicism on the point, not because I don’t wish it were true, but because I don’t think we’ve achieved any significant advances. And the advances that have been made in some areas, seem to be dwarfed at times by a worldwide culture of inhumanity.

But maybe you’re more optimistic about it? If so, comment, by all means.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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