Gaudium et Spes Summary
In the preface, the authors explain that they're writing to address the concerns of the real world—not just theological concerns. They say that they want to help make the world a better place and improve it for mankind through the power of the Church as they bring Christ to more people.
Next, the authors make an introductory statement about where men are in the world. They discuss technological changes and how they can actually work to make people more unsure even while they increase the ability to reach and teach others. There are a variety of pressures that can make it difficult for man to find peace in himself; these same pressures can create tension in every group from the family to the larger international community.
After the introduction, Gaudium Et Spes is split into two parts: "The Church and Man's Calling" and "Some Problems of Special Urgency."
In "The Church and Man's Calling," the authors examine the meaning of life in the modern era. Things have changed so quickly that it's difficult for me to have a deeper understanding of themselves. This section is split up into parts that look at the person as an individual, human communities, what people do in the world, and the role of the Church. Humans have dignity and have been called to do work alone and in groups to improve their communities and their inner selves.
In "Some Problems of Special Urgency," the authors reaffirm the importance of marriage and family; next, they discuss the development and importance of culture and what kinds of responsibilities the church and church members have regarding culture. They discuss dangers to marriage, like polygamy, self-love, and divorce; these things make people anxious and endanger the communities that marriage and family create. However, the authors note that the true character of marriage and family stays despite the changes. They say that people should not be ruled by economics and should help countries that aren't advanced to become more in line with advanced countries. They believe that modern technology has created ways for this to happen.
The entire document rests on the belief that God created humans in his image and made them the "master of all earthly creatures." That is what gives humans dignity and authority. They also make it clear that God wanted people to live together in communities. People weren't meant to be alone. However, modern technology can make that difficult and isolating if steps aren't taken to overcome the difficulties it brings while working to make a better world for everyone.
The fathers of Vatican II address Gaudium et Spes to all people. They propose that the Catholic Church has always and must continue to read the signs of the time, and they identify both positive and negative consequences of modern developments. They explain that industrialization has led to an abundance of wealth but also wretched poverty; improvements in communication have led to international solidarity but also opposition; and material advancements have been accomplished but to the neglect of humanity’s spiritual good.
The framers of Gaudium et Spes propose that the Church’s affirmation of God and life after death do not detract from the dignity of humankind but rather provide the only true answer to the enduring questions of humankind’s origin, meaning, and end. The Fathers state that humanity’s greatest source of dignity is that people are made in the image of God; that is, humankind is capable of knowing and loving God and is created to freely enter into communion with God. Since humankind’s meaning is properly understood in relation to its source and end, the council fathers express concern about political proposals that seek economic and social emancipation but neglect spiritual concerns. The fathers warn against causes of atheism, such as faulty notions of God and humanistic and scientific commitments whose very presuppositions deny God’s existence. The fathers propose that the best response to atheism is to live...
(The entire section is 1,504 words.)