Gaudium et Spes 62 leads off with an admission that the relationship between Church and world will not always be an easy one, yet the over all tone for the believer is a positive one: use the conflicts encountered to solidify one’s faith.
Although the Church has contributed much to the development of culture, experience shows that, for circumstantial reasons, it is sometimes difficult to harmonize culture with Christian teaching. These difficulties do not necessarily harm the life of faith, rather they can stimulate the mind to a deeper and more accurate understanding of the faith. The recent studies and findings of science, history and philosophy raise new questions which effect life and which demand new theological investigations. Furthermore, theologians, within the requirements and methods proper to theology, are invited to seek continually for more suitable ways of communicating doctrine to the (people) of their times; for the deposit of Faith or the truths are one thing and the manner in which they are enunciated, in the same meaning and understanding, is another.(12. Cf. John XXIII, prayer delivered on Oct. 11, 1962, at the beginning of the council: AAS 54 (1962), p. 792.)
Note the advice to theologians not to see their discipline as beyond the need for “continual” reform. The message remains the same, but the means of communication might not be.
In pastoral care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.
Again, that regard for the use of the social sciences as a tool to achieve the end of a more mature and developed adult faith.
Literature and the arts are also, in their own way, of great importance to the life of the Church. They strive to make known the proper nature of (humankind), (its) problems and (its) experiences in trying to know and perfect both (itself) and the world. They have much to do with revealing (the human) place in history and in the world; with illustrating the miseries and joys, the needs and strengths of (humankind) and with foreshadowing a better life. That they are able to elevate human life, expressed in multifold forms according to various times and regions.
A good summary of the aim of the artistic sensibility. Too bad the Church doesn’t take it more seriously than window dressing.
Efforts must be made so that those who foster these arts feel that the Church recognizes their activity and so that, enjoying orderly liberty, they may initiate more friendly relations with the Christian community. The Church acknowledges also new forms of art which are adapted to our age and are in keeping with the characteristics of various nations and regions. They may be brought into the sanctuary since they raise the mind to God, once the manner of expression is adapted and they are conformed to liturgical requirements(13. Cf. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 123: AAS 56 (1964), p. 131; Paul VI, discourse to the artists of Rome: AAS 56 (1964), pp. 439-442.)
That seems to be a rather liberal approach: new forms, once adapted to liturgical requirements, might “raise the mind to God.”
Thus the knowledge of God is better manifested and the preaching of the Gospel becomes clearer to human intelligence and shows itself to be relevant to (the) actual conditions of life.
May the faithful, therefore, live in very close union with the others of their time and may they strive to understand perfectly their way of thinking and judging, as expressed in their culture. Let them blend new sciences and theories and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and the teaching of Christian doctrine, so that their religious culture and morality may keep pace with scientific knowledge and with the constantly progressing technology. Thus they will be able to interpret and evaluate all things in a truly Christian spirit.
The people of the Church are intended to be “close” to the people of the world. The burden of understanding is placed at least equally on us believers. Our task is to perceive and understand what the culture is doing and why.
Let those who teach theology in seminaries and universities strive to collaborate with (those) versed in the other sciences through a sharing of their resources and points of view. Theological inquiry should pursue a profound understanding of revealed truth; at the same time it should not neglect close contact with its own time that it may be able to help these (scholars) skilled in various disciplines to attain to a better understanding of the faith. This common effort will greatly aid the formation of priests, who will be able to present to our contemporaries the doctrine of the Church concerning God, (humankind) and the world, in a manner more adapted to them so that they may receive it more willingly.(14. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on Priestly Training and Declaration on Christian Education.)
A step a bit deeper than “dialogue,” GS now advocates collaboration. The close relationship is intended to have the aim of spreading the gospel more effectively.
Furthermore, it is to be hoped that many of the laity will receive a sufficient formation in the sacred sciences and that some will dedicate themselves professionally to these studies, developing and deepening them by their own labors. In order that they may fulfill their function, let it be recognized that all the faithful, whether clerics or laity, possess a lawful freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and of expressing their mind with humility and fortitude in those matters on which they enjoy competence.(15. Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV, n. 37: AAS 57 (1965), pp. 42-43.)
The chapter closes out with an affirmation of the role of the laity:
- some of us should be trained in theology
- some of us will be theological professionals
- an affirmation of the competence of both lay people and clergy