Gaudium et Spes 8

This section might be subtitled for its last sentence, naming us as both cause and victim of our own conflicts and hardships. Gaudium et Spes 8 has a good bit of material worthy of reflection. Reminder that this section continues the bishops’ diagnosis of the world situation in 1965: this is not church teaching as such; it is an assessment. We keep in mind how much of this continues to ring true in the Information Age.

This development coming so rapidly and often in a disorderly fashion, combined with keener awareness itself of the inequalities in the world beget or intensify contradictions and imbalances.

Read this next portion over. As I read of the struggle of the modern intellect, I’m struck at the lack of grasp of the concept of mystery. I’m not a big believer in the notion that technology has complicated the moral decisions we face. Cloning is complex. The sociology and politics behind abortion on demand or embryonic stem cell research is complex. I don’t find the application of Christian morals to be particularly difficult in the abstract.

However, my personal experience is that the current drags me along until I come face to face with a moral dilemma nobody of a previous generation has had to face.

I’ve blogged earlier that my daughter’s doctors tell us that due to her heart condition, she will be a virtual 100% death risk for carrying a biological child to term. As of last summer, no woman with her condition survived a full-term pregnancy. I was reflecting a few months ago about theoreticals: what if she suffers rape and conception occurs. Would an immediate abortifacient be more moral than an attempt at carrying a pregnancy to term only to determine future medicine and health are insufficient? The Church of a hundred years ago would never have a ruling on this. First, nobody with the condition survived infancy. Second, we just didn’t know.

Anyway, here’s more of GS:

Within the individual person there develops rather frequently an imbalance between an intellect which is modern in practical matters and a theoretical system of thought which can neither master the sum total of its ideas, nor arrange them adequately into a synthesis. Likewise an imbalance arises between a concern for practicality and efficiency, and the demands of moral conscience; also very often between the conditions of collective existence and the requisites of personal thought, and even of contemplation. At length there develops an imbalance between specialized human activity and a comprehensive view of reality.

We have certainly lagged behind in our ability to contemplate, reflect, ponder.

An accurate diagnosis, then and now:

As for the family, discord results from population, economic and social pressures, or from difficulties which arise between succeeding generations, or from new social relationships between men and women.

Differences crop up too between races and between various kinds of social orders; between wealthy nations and those which are less influential or are needy; finally, between international institutions born of the popular desire for peace, and the ambition to propagate one’s own ideology, as well as collective greeds existing in nations or other groups.

And making our own bed:

What results is mutual distrust, enmities, conflicts and hardships. Of such (are people) at once the cause and the victim.

Relatively speaking, the science is easier than the morality that accompanies it. There’s a temptation to say that new developments have completely put the old order out of business. That seems to be too easy an answer for me.Perhaps my future adult daughter will accept the risk if bearing a child becomes a priority for her and her future husband. It’s possible science will permit such a thing. Or perhaps not at that time. Where the Church may falter is the absolute back-application of such situations to teachings on sex, gender, and other long-held propositions. There’s some of this stretching to be seen in the Church’s possibly wild attempts to make sense of same-sex attraction and what that might mean for suitability for ministry.

As we delve deeper, there arises considerable food for thought. And we haven’t hit core Church teaching yet.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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