The home stretch, people …
Gaudium et Spes begins to sum up the effort and hopes of the Vatican Council:
Drawn from the treasures of Church teaching, the proposals of this sacred synod look to the assistance of every (person) of our time, whether he (or she) believes in God, or does not explicitly recognize Him. If adopted, they will promote among (all people) a sharper insight into their full destiny, and thereby lead them to fashion the world more to (a) surpassing dignity, to search for a (communion) which is universal and more deeply rooted, and to meet the urgencies of our ages with a gallant and unified effort born of love.
Here we have a council “policy,” namely that the bishops gathering in the years 1962-65 did not always (or even often) intend to set up definitive policy on the topics discussed. Claiming Vatican II was not a dogmatic council misses the point. A council is not the only teaching organ of the Church, nor was it unforeseen that bishops, clergy, religious, and laity would further develop the broadest outlines given by Vatican II.
Undeniably this conciliar program is but a general one in several of its parts; and deliberately so, given the immense variety of situations and forms of human culture in the world. Indeed while it presents teaching already accepted in the Church, the program will have to be followed up and amplified since it sometimes deals with matters in a constant state of development. Still, we have relied on the word of God and the spirit of the Gospel. Hence we entertain the hope that many of our proposals will prove to be of substantial benefit to everyone, especially after they have been adapted to individual nations and mentalities by the faithful, under the guidance of their pastors.
For matters dealing with the modern world, the laity are expected to be at the forefront of such efforts.