Ad Gentes 12

More on the presence of missionary groups among non-believers:

The presence of the Christian faithful in these human groups should be inspired by that charity with which God has loved us, and with which He wills that we should love one another (cf. 1 John 4:11). Christian charity truly extends to all, without distinction of race, creed, or social condition: it looks for neither gain nor gratitude.

Including, I suppose the gain of heaven and the gratitude of God. 

For as God loved us with an unselfish love, so also the faithful should in their charity care for the human person (themselves), loving (them) with the same affection with which God sought out (humankind). Just as Christ, then, went about all the towns and villages, curing every kind of disease and infirmity as a sign that the kingdom of God had come (cf. Matt. 9:35ff; Acts 10:38), so also the Church, through her children, is one with (people) of every condition, but especially with the poor and the afflicted. For them, she gladly spends and is spent (cf. 2 Cor. 12:15), sharing in their joys and sorrows, knowing of their longings and problems, suffering with them in death’s anxieties. To those in quest of peace, she wishes to answer in (familial) dialogue, bearing them the peace and the light of the Gospel.

Why does the Church emphasize serving the poor? If you don’t want to re-read Gaudium et Spes, is it good enough to know that it was Jesus’ way, and as his disciples, we are bound to imitate this way?

Let Christians labor and collaborate with others in rightly regulating the affairs of social and economic life. With special care, let them devote themselves to the education of children and young people by means of different kinds of schools, which should be considered not only as the most excellent means of forming and developing Christian youth, but also as a valuable public service, especially in the developing nations, working toward the uplifting of human dignity, and toward better living conditions.

“Different kinds of schools” one might interpret as something more than college prep academies. 

Furthermore, let them take part in the strivings of those peoples who, waging war on famine, ignorance, and disease, are struggling to better their way of life and to secure peace in the world. In this activity, the faithful should be eager to offer prudent aid to projects sponsored by public and private organizations, by governments, by various Christian communities, and even by non-Christian religions.

However, the Church has no desire at all to intrude itself into the government of the earthly city. It claims no other authority than that of ministering to (people) with the help of God, in a spirit of charity and faithful service (cf. Matt. 20:26; 23:11).

This would be one of the reasons why I think it imprudent for clerics to consent to serve in public office, aside from that role being one reserved for the laity.

Closely united with (people) in their life and work, Christ’s disciples hope to render to others true witness of Christ, and to work for their salvation, even where they are not able to announce Christ fully. For they are not seeking a mere material progress and prosperity for (people), but are promoting their dignity and (familial) union, teaching those religious and moral truths which Christ illumined with His light; and in this way, they are gradually opening up a fuller approach to God. Thus they help (people) to attain to salvation by love for God and neighbor, and the mystery of Christ begins to shine forth, in which there appears the new (person), created according to God (cf. Eph. 4:24), and in which the charity of God is revealed.

This concludes the examination of “Christian Witness” in non-Christian societies. The suggested formula? Close ties within society itself, the promotion of dignity and values, with an eye to a patient and gradual opening up of the revelation of Christ in the world.

You’ve all been rather silent on Ad Gentes so far. Anything bothersome? Laudable? In need of correction?

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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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