Gaudium et Spes 14

We begin Gaudium et Spes 14 with a rejection of dualism and an elaboration of a philosophy of the goodness of the created world:

Though made of body and soul, (the human person) is one. Through (their) bodily composition (they gather to themselves) the elements of the material world; thus (these elements) reach their crown through (human beings), and through (human beings) raise their voice in free praise of the Creator.(Cf. 1 Cor. 6:13-20)

Even the stones would cry out (Cf Luke 19:40), eh?

For this reason (people are) not allowed to despise … bodily life, rather (are) obliged to regard (the) body as good and honorable since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. Nevertheless, wounded by sin, (people experience) rebellious stirrings in (the) body. But the very dignity of (human beings) postulates that (they) glorify God in (the) body and forbid it to serve the evil inclinations of his heart.

If others are somewhat more familiar with JPII’s Theology of thee Body, feel free to comment on this part.

Now, (people are) not wrong when (they regard themselves) as superior to bodily concerns, and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of (humanity). For by (their) interior qualities (they outstrip) the whole sum of mere things. (They plunge) into the depths of reality whenever (they enter) into (their own hearts); God, Who probes the heart, (Cf. 1 Kings 16:7; Jer. 17:10) awaits (them) there; there (they discern their) proper destiny beneath the eyes of God. Thus, when (they recognize) in (themselves) a spiritual and immortal soul, (they are) not being mocked by a fantasy born only of physical or social influences, but is rather laying hold of the proper truth of the matter.

If the human person is one, it is hard to separate the mutual relationship of the physical and the interior soul. It could be said that a crime against a person’s body is an act against the human soul. Indeed if the interior nature of a person is harmed, it would be logical to assume that the crime is more seriously grave than a mere bodily transgression.

Particularly heinous in the Church’s eyes would be aggression directed against the soul. Note that Church teaching does not differentiate between a Catholic and non-Catholic soul, or between believing and unbelieving souls. Actions which offend the spiritual sensibilities of anyone are considered grave.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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