Cdl. George Pell: ‘Gaudium et Spes’ and Germany’s Synodal Way: Reflections on the Church in the Modern World

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COMMENTARY: The pastoral constitution called for engaging the world in ‘the light of the Gospel,’ but some initiatives in the Church today seek to subvert the faith to the spirit of modernity.

By Cardinal George Pell, EWTN News, October 12, 2022

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Register’s symposium on Vatican II at 60.

The Latin title of the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope), is not misleading, as it sets out to be both joyful and hopeful, not seeking conflict or confrontation, totally avoiding the use of any anathemas. It is described as a pastoral constitution and was a novelty in conciliar history. I am unsure it will ever be attempted again by a full council, however that may occur with more than 5,000 bishops.

While being doctrinally based on the conciliar documents on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and Revelation, Dei Verbumthis constitution is not primarily doctrinal, but sets out a vigorous Christocentric humanism, guidelines on how the Catholic community should relate with the modern world, in its bewildering variety. It is something of both a commentary and an exhortation and could be described as sociological or prudential, rather than dogmatic. …

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