ON THE CHURCH IN THE
GAUDIUM ET SPES
HIS HOLINESS, POPE
ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
1. The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this
age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys
and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing
genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a
community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in
their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of
salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that
it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.
2. Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the
mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the
sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of
humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the
presence and activity of the Church in the world of today.
Therefore, the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole
human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it
lives; that world which is the theater of man's history, and the heir of his
energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as
created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of
sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break
the strangle hold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew
according to God's design and reach its fulfillment.
3. Though mankind is stricken with wonder at its own discoveries and its
power, it often raises anxious questions about the current trend of the world,
about the place and role of man in the universe, about the meaning of its
individual and collective strivings, and about the ultimate destiny of reality
and of humanity. Hence, giving witness and voice to the faith of the whole
people of God gathered together by Christ, this council can provide no more
eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for the
entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in
conversation about these various problems. The council brings to mankind light
kindled from the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which
the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her
Founder. For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves
to be renewed. Hence the focal point of our total presentation will be man
himself, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will.
Therefore, this sacred synod, proclaiming the noble destiny of man and
championing the Godlike seed which has been sown in him, offers to mankind the
honest assistance of the Church in fostering that brotherhood of all men which
corresponds to this destiny of theirs. Inspired by no earthly ambition, the
Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ under the
lead of the befriending Spirit. And Christ entered this world to give witness to
the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be
INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT THE SITUATION OF MEN IN THE MODERN WORLD
4. To carry out such a task, the Church has always had the duty of
scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the
Gospel. Thus, in language intelligible to each generation, she can respond to
the perennial questions which men ask about this present life and the life to
come, and about the relationship of the one to the other. We must therefore
recognize and understand the world in which we live, its explanations, its
longings, and its often dramatic characteristics. Some of the main features of
the modern world can be sketched as follows.
Today, the human race is involved in a new stage of history. Profound and
rapid changes are spreading by degrees around the whole world. Triggered by the
intelligence and creative energies of man, these changes recoil upon him, upon
his decisions and desires, both individual and collective, and upon his manner
of thinking and acting with respect to things and to people. Hence we can
already speak of a true cultural and social transformation, one which has
repercussions on man's religious life as well.
As happens in any crisis of growth, this transformation has brought serious
difficulties in its wake. Thus while man extends his power in every direction,
he does not always succeed in subjecting it to his own welfare. Striving to
probe more profoundly into the deeper recesses of his own mind, he frequently
appears more unsure of himself. Gradually and more precisely he lays bare the
laws of society, only to be paralyzed by uncertainty about the direction to give
Never has the human race enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources and
economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the worlds citizens are still
tormented by hunger and poverty, while countless numbers suffer from total
illiteracy. Never before has man had so keen an understanding of freedom, yet at
the same time new forms of social and psychological slavery make their
appearance. Although the world of today has a very vivid awareness of its unity
and of how one man depends on another in needful solidarity, it is most
grievously torn into opposing camps by conflicting forces. For political,
social, economic, racial and ideological disputes still continue bitterly, and
with them the peril of a war which would reduce everything to ashes. True, there
is a growing exchange of ideas, but the very words by which key concepts are
expressed take on quite different meanings in diverse ideological systems.
Finally, man painstakingly searches for a better world, without a corresponding
Influenced by such a variety of complexities, many of our contemporaries are
kept from accurately identifying permanent values and adjusting them properly to
fresh discoveries. As a result, buffeted between hope and anxiety and pressing
one another with questions about the present course of events, they are burdened
down with uneasiness. This same course of events leads men to look for answers;
indeed, it forces them to do so.
5. Today's spiritual agitation and the changing conditions of life are part
of a broader and deeper revolution. As a result of the latter, intellectual
formation is ever increasingly based on the mathematical and natural sciences
and on those dealing with man himself, while in the practical order the
technology which stems from these sciences takes on mounting importance.
This scientific spirit has a new kind of impact on the cultural sphere and on
modes of thought. Technology is now transforming the face of the earth, and is
already trying to master outer space. To a certain extent, the human intellect
is also broadening its dominion over time: over the past by means of historical
knowledge; over the future, by the art of projecting and by planning.
Advances in biology, psychology, and the social sciences not only bring men
hope of improved self-knowledge; in conjunction with technical methods, they are
helping men exert direct influence on the life of social groups.
At the same time, the human race is giving steadily-increasing thought to
forecasting and regulating its own population growth. History itself speeds
along on so rapid a course that an individual person can scarcely keep abreast
of it. The destiny of the human community has become all of a piece, where once
the various groups of men had a kind of private history of their own.
Thus, the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a
more dynamic, evolutionary one. In consequence there has arisen a new series of
problems, a series as numerous as can be, calling for efforts of analysis and
6. By this very circumstance, the traditional local communities such as
families, clans, tribes, villages, various groups and associations stemming from
social contacts, experience more thorough changes every day.
The industrial type of society is gradually being spread, leading some
nations to economic affluence, and radically transforming ideas and social
conditions established for centuries.
Likewise, the cult and pursuit of city living has grown, either because of a
multiplication of cities and their inhabitants, or by a transplantation of city
life to rural settings.
New and more efficient media of social communication are contributing to the
knowledge of events; by setting off chain reactions they are giving the swiftest
and widest possible circulation to styles of thought and feeling.
It is also noteworthy how many men are being induced to migrate on various
counts, and are thereby changing their manner of life. Thus a man's ties with
his fellows are constantly being multiplied, and at the same time
"socialization" brings further ties, without however always promoting
appropriate personal development and truly personal relationships.
This kind of evolution can be seen more clearly in those nations which
already enjoy the conveniences of economic and technological progress, though it
is also astir among peoples still striving for such progress and eager to secure
for themselves the advantages of an industrialized and urbanized society. These
peoples, especially those among them who are attached to older traditions, are
simultaneously undergoing a movement toward more mature and personal exercise of
7. A change in attitudes and in human structures frequently calls accepted
values into question, especially among young people, who have grown impatient on
more than one occasion, and indeed become rebels in their distress. Aware of
their own influence in the life of society, they want a part in it sooner. This
frequently causes parents and educators to experience greater difficulties day
by day in discharging their tasks. The institutions, laws and modes of thinking
and feeling as handed down from previous generations do not always seem to be
well adapted to the contemporary state of affairs; hence arises an upheaval in
the manner and even the norms of behavior.
Finally, these new conditions have their impact on religion. On the one hand
a more critical ability to distinguish religion from a magical view of the world
and from the superstitions which still circulate purifies it and exacts day by
day a more personal and explicit adherence to faith. As a result many persons
are achieving a more vivid sense of God. On the other hand, growing numbers of
people are abandoning religion in practice. Unlike former days, the denial of
God or of religion, or the abandonment of them, are no longer unusual and
individual occurrences. For today it is not rare for such things to be presented
as requirements of scientific progress or of a certain new humanism. In numerous
places these views are voiced not only in the teachings of philosophers, but on
every side they influence literature, the arts, the interpretation of the
humanities and of history and civil laws themselves. As a consequence, many
people are shaken.
8. 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.
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.
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.
What results is mutual distrust, enmities, conflicts and hardships. Of such
is man at once the cause and the victim.
9. Meanwhile the conviction grows not only that humanity can and should
increasingly consolidate its control over creation, but even more, that it
devolves on humanity to establish a political, social and economic order which
will growingly serve man and help individuals as well as groups to affirm and
develop the dignity proper to them.
As a result many persons are quite aggressively demanding those benefits of
which with vivid awareness they judge themselves to be deprived either through
injustice or unequal distribution. Nations on the road to progress, like those
recently made independent, desire to participate in the goods of modern
civilization, not only in the political field but also economically, and to play
their part freely on the world scene. Still they continually fall behind while
very often their economic and other dependence on wealthier nations advances
People hounded by hunger call upon those better off. Where they have not yet
won it, women claim for themselves an equity with men before the law and in
fact. Laborers and farmers seek not only to provide for the necessities of life,
but to develop the gifts of their personality by their labors and indeed to take
part in regulating economic, social, political and cultural life. Now, for the
first time in human history all people are convinced that the benefits of
culture ought to be and actually can be extended to everyone.
Still, beneath all these demands lies a deeper and more widespread longing:
persons and societies thirst for a full and free life worthy of man; one in
which they can subject to their own welfare all that the modern world can offer
them so abundantly. In addition, nations try harder every day to bring about a
kind of universal community.
Since all these things are so, the modern world shows itself at once powerful
and weak, capable of the noblest deeds or the foulest; before it lies the path
to freedom or to slavery, to progress or retreat, to brotherhood or hatred.
Moreover, man is becoming aware that it is his responsibility to guide aright
the forces which he has unleashed and which can enslave him or minister to him.
That is why he is putting questions to himself.
10. The truth is that the imbalances under which the modern world labors are
linked with that more basic imbalance which is rooted in the heart of man. For
in man himself many elements wrestle with one another. Thus, on the one hand, as
a creature he experiences his limitations in a multitude of ways; on the other
he feels himself to be boundless in his desires and summoned to a higher life.
Pulled by manifold attractions he is constantly forced to choose among them and
renounce some. Indeed, as a weak and sinful being, he often does what he would
not, and fails to do what he would.(1) Hence he suffers from internal divisions,
and from these flow so many and such great discords in society. No doubt many
whose lives are infected with a practical materialism are blinded against any
sharp insight into this kind of dramatic situation; or else, weighed down by
unhappiness they are prevented from giving the matter any thought. Thinking they
have found serenity in an interpretation of reality everywhere proposed these
days, many look forward to a genuine and total emancipation of humanity wrought
solely by human effort; they are convinced that the future rule of man over the
earth will satisfy every desire of his heart. Nor are there lacking men who
despair of any meaning to life and praise the boldness of those who think that
human existence is devoid of any inherent significance and strive to confer a
total meaning on it by their own ingenuity alone.
Nevertheless, in the face of the modern development of the world, the number
constantly swells of the people who raise the most basic questions or recognize
them with a new sharpness: what is man? What is this sense of sorrow, of evil,
of death, which continues to exist despite so much progress? What purpose have
these victories purchased at so high a cost? What can man offer to society, what
can he expect from it? What follows this earthly life?
The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for
all,(2) can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure
up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to
man by which it is fitting for him to be saved.(3) She likewise holds that in
her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the
goal of man, as well as of all human history. The Church also maintains that
beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have
their ultimate foundation in Christ, Who is the same yesterday and today, yes
and forever.(4) Hence under the light of Christ, the image of the unseen God,
the firstborn of every creature,(5) the council wishes to speak to all men in
order to shed light on the mystery of man and to cooperate in finding the
solution to the outstanding problems of our time.
THE CHURCH AND MAN'S CALLING
11. The People of God believes that it is led by the Lord's Spirit, Who fills
the earth. Motivated by this faith, it labors to decipher authentic signs of
God's presence and purpose in the happenings, needs and desires in which this
People has a part along with other men of our age. For faith throws a new light
on everything, manifests God's design for man's total vocation, and thus directs
the mind to solutions which are fully human.
This council, first of all, wishes to assess in this light those values which
are most highly prized today and to relate them to their divine source. Insofar
as they stem from endowments conferred by God on man, these values are
exceedingly good. Yet they are often wrenched from their rightful function by
the taint in man's heart, and hence stand in need of purification.
What does the Church think of man? What needs to be recommended for the
upbuilding of contemporary society? What is the ultimate significance of human
activity throughout the world? People are waiting for an answer to these
questions. From the answers it will be increasingly clear that the People of God
and the human race in whose midst it lives render service to each other. Thus
the mission of the Church will show its religious, and by that very fact, its
supremely human character.
THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
12. According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers
alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.
But what is man? About himself he has expressed, and continues to express,
many divergent and even contradictory opinions. In these he often exalts himself
as the absolute measure of all things or debases himself to the point of
despair. The result is doubt and anxiety. The Church certainly understands these
problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that
man's true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the
same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.
For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created "to the image of God," is
capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of
all earthly creatures(1) that he might subdue them and use them to God's
glory.(2) "What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little
less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him
rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet" (Ps.
But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning "male and
female he created them" (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary
form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social
being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop
Therefore, as we read elsewhere in Holy Scripture God saw "all that he had
made, and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).
13. Although he was made by God in a state of holiness, from the very onset
of his history man abused his liberty, at the urging of the Evil One. Man set
himself against God and sought to attain his goal apart from God. Although they
knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, but their senseless minds were
darkened and they served the creature rather than the Creator.(3) What divine
revelation makes known to us agrees with experience. Examining his heart, man
finds that he has inclinations toward evil too, and is engulfed by manifold ills
which cannot come from his good Creator. Often refusing to acknowledge God as
his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own
ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and
all created things.
Therefore man is split within himself. As a result, all of human life,
whether individual or collective, shows itself to be a dramatic struggle between
good and evil, between light and darkness. Indeed, man finds that by himself he
is incapable of battling the assaults of evil successfully, so that everyone
feels as though he is bound by chains. But the Lord Himself came to free and
strengthen man, renewing him inwardly and casting out that "prince of this
world" (John 12:31) who held him in the bondage of sin.(4) For sin has
diminished man, blocking his path to fulfillment.
The call to grandeur and the depths of misery, both of which are a part of
human experience, find their ultimate and simultaneous explanation in the light
of this revelation.
14. Though made of body and soul, man is one. Through his bodily composition
he gathers to himself the elements of the material world; thus they reach their
crown through him, and through him raise their voice in free praise of the
Creator.(6) For this reason man is not allowed to despise his bodily life,
rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and honorable since God has
created it and will raise it up on the last day. Nevertheless, wounded by sin,
man experiences rebellious stirrings in his body. But the very dignity of man
postulates that man glorify God in his body and forbid it to serve the evil
inclinations of his heart.
Now, man is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concerns,
and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man.
For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things. He
plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God,
Who probes the heart,(7) awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny
beneath the eyes of God. Thus, when he recognizes in himself a spiritual and
immortal soul, he is 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.
15. Man judges rightly that by his intellect he surpasses the material
universe, for he shares in the light of the divine mind. By relentlessly
employing his talents through the ages he has indeed made progress in the
practical sciences and in technology and the liberal arts. In our times he has
won superlative victories, especially in his probing of the material world and
in subjecting it to himself. Still he has always searched for more penetrating
truths, and finds them. For his intelligence is not confined to observable data
alone, but can with genuine certitude attain to reality itself as knowable,
though in consequence of sin that certitude is partly obscured and weakened.
The intellectual nature of the human person is perfected by wisdom and needs
to be, for wisdom gently attracts the mind of man to a quest and a love for what
is true and good. Steeped in wisdom. man passes through visible realities to
those which are unseen.
Our era needs such wisdom more than bygone ages if the discoveries made by
man are to be further humanized. For the future of the world stands in peril
unless wiser men are forthcoming. It should also be pointed out that many
nations, poorer in economic goods, are quite rich in wisdom and can offer
noteworthy advantages to others.
It is, finally, through the gift of the Holy Spirit that man comes by faith
to the contemplation and appreciation of the divine plan.(8)
16. In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not
impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to
love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his
heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to
obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged.(9)
Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone
with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.(10) In a wonderful manner conscience
reveals that law which is fulfilled by love of God and neighbor.(11) In fidelity
to conscience, Christians are joined with the rest of men in the search for
truth, and for the genuine solution to the numerous problems which arise in the
life of individuals from social relationships. Hence the more right conscience
holds sway, the more persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and strive
to be guided by the objective norms of morality. Conscience frequently errs from
invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said for a
man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or for a conscience which by
degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin.
17. Only in freedom can man direct himself toward goodness. Our
contemporaries make much of this freedom and pursue it eagerly; and rightly to
be sure. Often however they foster it perversely as a license for doing whatever
pleases them, even if it is evil. For its part, authentic freedom is an
exceptional sign of the divine image within man. For God has willed that man
remain "under the control of his own decisions,"(12) so that he can seek his
Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection through
loyalty to Him. Hence man's dignity demands that he act according to a knowing
and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under
blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure. Man achieves such dignity
when, emancipating himself from all captivity to passion, he pursues his goal in
a spontaneous choice of what is good, and procures for himself through effective
and skilful action, apt helps to that end. Since man's freedom has been damaged
by sin, only by the aid of God's grace can he bring such a relationship with God
into full flower. Before the judgement seat of God each man must render an
account of his own life, whether he has done good or evil.(13)
18. It is in the face of death that the riddle a human existence grows most
acute. Not only is man tormented by pain and by the advancing deterioration of
his body, but even more so by a dread of perpetual extinction. He rightly
follows the intuition of his heart when he abhors and repudiates the utter ruin
and total disappearance of his own person. He rebels against death because he
bears in himself an eternal seed which cannot be reduced to sheer matter. All
the endeavors of technology, though useful in the extreme, cannot calm his
anxiety; for prolongation of biological life is unable to satisfy that desire
for higher life which is inescapably lodged in his breast.
Although the mystery of death utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has
been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches that man has been created by
God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that
bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned(14) will be
vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man who was ruined by his own
doing is restored to wholeness by an almighty and merciful Saviour. For God has
called man and still calls him so that with his entire being he might be joined
to Him in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won
this victory when He rose to life, for by His death He freed man from death.
Hence to every thoughtful man a solidly established faith provides the answer to
his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time faith gives
him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been
snatched away by death; faith arouses the hope that they have found true life
19. The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with
God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse
with God. For man would not exist were he not created by Gods love and
constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless
he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to His Creator. Still, many
of our contemporaries have never recognized this intimate and vital link with
God, or have explicitly rejected it. Thus atheism must be accounted among the
most serious problems of this age, and is deserving of closer examination.
The word atheism is applied to phenomena which are quite distinct from one
another. For while God is expressly denied by some, others believe that man can
assert absolutely nothing about Him. Still others use such a method to
scrutinize the question of God as to make it seem devoid of meaning. Many,
unduly transgressing the limits of the positive sciences, contend that
everything can be explained by this kind of scientific reasoning alone, or by
contrast, they altogether disallow that there is any absolute truth. Some laud
man so extravagantly that their faith in God lapses into a kind of anemia,
though they seem more inclined to affirm man than to deny God. Again some form
for themselves such a fallacious idea of God that when they repudiate this
figment they are by no means rejecting the God of the Gospel. Some never get to
the point of raising questions about God, since they seem to experience no
religious stirrings nor do they see why they should trouble themselves about
religion. Moreover, atheism results not rarely from a violent protest against
the evil in this world, or from the absolute character with which certain human
values are unduly invested, and which thereby already accords them the stature
of God. Modern civilization itself often complicates the approach to God not for
any essential reason but because it is so heavily engrossed in earthly affairs.
Undeniably, those who willfully shut out God from their hearts and try to
dodge religious questions are not following the dictates of their consciences,
and hence are not free of blame; yet believers themselves frequently bear some
responsibility for this situation. For, taken as a whole, atheism is not a
spontaneous development but stems from a variety of causes, including a critical
reaction against religious beliefs, and in some places against the Christian
religion in particular. Hence believers can have more than a little to do with
the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the
faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral
or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic
face of God and religion.
20. Modern atheism often takes on a systematic expression which, in addition
to other causes, stretches the desires for human independence to such a point
that it poses difficulties against any kind of dependence on God. Those who
profess atheism of this sort maintain that it gives man freedom to be an end
unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history. They claim that
this freedom cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord Who is author
and purpose of all things, or at least that this freedom makes such an
affirmation altogether superfluous. Favoring this doctrine can be the sense of
power which modern technical progress generates in man.
Not to be overlooked among the forms of modern atheism is that which
anticipates the liberation of man especially through his economic and social
emancipation. This form argues that by its nature religion thwarts this
liberation by arousing man's hope for a deceptive future life, thereby diverting
him from the constructing of the earthly city. Consequently when the proponents
of this doctrine gain governmental power they vigorously fight against religion,
and promote atheism by using, especially in the education of youth, those means
of pressure which public power has at its disposal.
21. In her loyal devotion to God and men, the Church has already
repudiated(16) and cannot cease repudiating, sorrowfully but as firmly as
possible, those poisonous doctrines and actions which contradict reason and the
common experience of humanity, and dethrone man from his native excellence.
Still, she strives to detect in the atheistic mind the hidden causes for the
denial of God; conscious of how weighty are the questions which atheism raises,
and motivated by love for all men, she believes these questions ought to be
examined seriously and more profoundly.
The Church holds that the recognition of God is in no way hostile to man's
dignity, since this dignity is rooted and perfected in God. For man was made an
intelligent and free member of society by God Who created him, but even more
important, he is called as a son to commune with God and share in His happiness.
She further teaches that a hope related to the end of time does not diminish the
importance of intervening duties but rather undergirds the acquittal of them
with fresh incentives. By contrast, when a divine instruction and the hope of
life eternal are wanting, man's dignity is most grievously lacerated, as current
events often attest; riddles of life and death, of guilt and of grief go
unsolved with the frequent result that men succumb to despair.
Meanwhile every man remains to himself an unsolved puzzle, however obscurely
he may perceive it. For on certain occasions no one can entirely escape the kind
of self-questioning mentioned earlier, especially when life's major events take
place. To this questioning only God fully and most certainly provides an answer
as He summons man to higher knowledge and humbler probing.
The remedy which must be applied to atheism, however, is to be sought in a
proper presentation of the Church's teaching as well as in the integral life of
the Church and her members. For it is the function of the Church, led by the
Holy Spirit Who renews and purifies her ceaselessly,(17) to make God the Father
and His Incarnate Son present and in a sense visible. This result is achieved
chiefly by the witness of a living and mature faith, namely, one trained to see
difficulties clearly and to master them. Many martyrs have given luminous
witness to this faith and continue to do so. This faith needs to prove its
fruitfulness by penetrating the believer's entire life, including its worldly
dimensions, and by activating him toward justice and love, especially regarding
the needy. What does the most reveal God's presence, however, is the brotherly
charity of the faithful who are united in spirit as they work together for the
faith of the Gospel(18) and who prove themselves a sign of unity.
While rejecting atheism, root and branch, the Church sincerely professes that
all men, believers and unbelievers alike, ought to work for the rightful
betterment of this world in which all alike live; such an ideal cannot be
realized, however, apart from sincere and prudent dialogue. Hence the Church
protests against the distinction which some state authorities make between
believers and unbelievers, with prejudice to the fundamental rights of the human
person. The Church calls for the active liberty of believers to build up in this
world God's temple too. She courteously invites atheists to examine the Gospel
of Christ with an open mind.
Above all the Church knows that her message is in harmony with the most
secret desires of the human heart when she champions the dignity of the human
vocation, restoring hope to those who have already despaired of anything higher
than their present lot. Far from diminishing man, her message brings to his
development light, life and freedom. Apart from this message nothing will avail
to fill up the heart of man: "Thou hast made us for Thyself," O Lord, "and our
hearts are restless till they rest in Thee."(19)
22. The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the
mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man, was a figure of Him Who
was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the
revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man
himself and makes his supreme calling clear. It is not surprising, then, that in
Him all the aforementioned truths find their root and attain their crown.
He Who is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the
perfect man. To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been
disfigured from the first sin onward. Since human nature as He assumed it was
not annulled,(22) by that very fact it has been raised up to a divine dignity in
our respect too. For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in
some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human
mind, acted by human choice(23) and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin
Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.(24)
As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His own
blood. In Him God reconciled us(25) to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage
to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the
Apostle: The Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). By
suffering for us He not only provided us with an example for our imitation,(26)
He blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on
a new meaning.
The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn
of many brothers,(27) received "the first-fruits of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:23) by
which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love.(28) Through this
Spirit, who is "the pledge of our inheritance" (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is
renewed from within, even to the achievement of "the redemption of the body"
(Rom. 8:23): "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the death dwells in
you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your
mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom. 8:11).(29) Pressing
upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil
through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the
paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to
resurrection in the strength which comes from hope.(30)
All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in
whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.(31) For, since Christ died for all
men,(32) and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we
ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to
every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.
Such is the mystery of man, and it is a great one, as seen by believers in
the light of Christian revelation. Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of
sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us.
Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon
us(33) so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit; Abba,
THE COMMUNITY OF MANKIND
23. One of the salient features of the modern world is the growing
interdependence of men one on the other, a development promoted chiefly by
modern technical advances. Nevertheless brotherly dialogue among men does not
reach its perfection on the level of technical progress, but on the deeper level
of interpersonal relationships. These demand a mutual respect for the full
spiritual dignity of the person. Christian revelation contributes greatly to the
promotion of this communion between persons, and at the same time leads us to a
deeper understanding of the laws of social life which the Creator has written
into man's moral and spiritual nature.
Since rather recent documents of the Church's teaching authority have dealt
at considerable length with Christian doctrine about human society,(1) this
council is merely going to call to mind some of the more basic truths, treating
their foundations under the light of revelation. Then it will dwell more at
length on certain of their implications having special significance for our day.
24. God, Who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men
should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
For having been created in the image of God, Who "from one man has created the
whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth" (Acts
17:26), all men are called to one and the same goal, namely God Himself.
For this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest
commandment. Sacred Scripture, however, teaches us that the love of God cannot
be separated from love of neighbor: "If there is any other commandment, it is
summed up in this saying: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.... Love
therefore is the fulfillment of the Law" (Rom. 13:9-10; cf. 1 John 4:20). To men
growing daily more dependent on one another, and to a world becoming more
unified every day, this truth proves to be of paramount importance.
Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. .
. as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He
implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the
unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is
the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find
himself except through a sincere gift of himself.(2)
25. Man's social nature makes it evident that the progress of the human
person and the advance of society itself hinge on one another. For the
beginning, the subject and the goal of all social institutions is and must be
the human person which for its part and by its very nature stands completely in
need of social life.(3) Since this social life is not something added on to man,
through his dealings with others, through reciprocal duties, and through
fraternal dialogue he develops all his gifts and is able to rise to his destiny.
Among those social ties which man needs for his development some, like the
family and political community, relate with greater immediacy to his innermost
nature; others originate rather from his free decision. In our era, for various
reasons, reciprocal ties and mutual dependencies increase day by day and give
rise to a variety of associations and organizations, both public and private.
This development, which is called socialization, while certainly not without its
dangers, brings with it many advantages with respect to consolidating and
increasing the qualities of the human person, and safeguarding his rights.(4)
But if by this social life the human person is greatly aided in responding to
his destiny, even in its religious dimensions, it cannot be denied that men are
often diverted from doing good and spurred toward and by the social
circumstances in which they live and are immersed from their birth. To be sure
the disturbances which so frequently occur in the social order result in part
from the natural tensions of economic, political and social forms. But at a
deeper level they flow from man's pride and selfishness, which contaminate even
the social sphere. When the structure of affairs is flawed by the consequences
of sin, man, already born with a bent toward evil, finds there new inducements
to sin, which cannot be overcome without strenuous efforts and the assistance of
26. Every day human interdependence grows more tightly drawn and spreads by
degrees over the whole world. As a result the common good, that is, the sum of
those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual
members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment, today
takes on an increasingly universal complexion and consequently involves rights
and duties with respect to the whole human race. Every social group must take
account of the needs and legitimate aspirations of other groups, and even of the
general welfare of the entire human family.(5)
At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the exalted
dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things, and his
rights and duties are universal and inviolable. Therefore, there must be made
available to all men everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such
as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and
to found a family, the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation,
to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright
norm of one's own conscience, to protection of privacy and rightful freedom
even in matters religious.
Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the
benefit of the human person if the disposition of affairs is to be subordinate
to the personal realm and not contrariwise, as the Lord indicated when He said
that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.(6)
This social order requires constant improvement. It must be founded on truth,
built on justice and animated by love; in freedom it should grow every day
toward a more humane balance.(7) An improvement in attitudes and abundant
changes in society will have to take place if these objectives are to be gained.
God's Spirit, Who with a marvelous providence directs the unfolding of time
and renews the face of the earth, is not absent from this development. The
ferment of the Gospel too has aroused and continues to arouse in man's heart the
irresistible requirements of his dignity.
27. Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this
council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every
neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all His
life and the means necessary to living it with dignity,(8) so as not to imitate
the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus.(9)
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of
every person without exception and of actively helping him when he comes across
our path, whether he be an old person abandoned by all, a foreign laborer
unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and
wrongly suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person who disturbs
our conscience by recalling the voice of the Lord, "As long as you did it for
one of these the least of my brethren, you did it for me" (Matt. 25:40).
Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder,
genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the
integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or
mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such
as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery,
prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working
conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free
and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies
indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice
them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor
to the Creator.
28. Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act
differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact,
the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such
courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with
This love and good will, to be sure, must in no way render us indifferent to
truth and goodness. Indeed love itself impels the disciples of Christ to speak
the saving truth to all men. But it is necessary to distinguish between error,
which always merits repudiation, and the person in error, who never loses the
dignity of being a person even when he is flawed by false or inadequate
religious notions.(10) God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts, for that
reason He forbids us to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.(11)
The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries,(12) and
extends the law of love to include every enemy, according to the command of the
New Law: "You have heard that it was said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate
thy enemy. But I say to you: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
and pray for those who persecute and calumniate you" (Matt. 5:43-44).
29. Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God's likeness,
since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and
enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must
receive increasingly greater recognition.
True, all men are not alike from the point of view of varying physical power
and the diversity of intellectual and moral resources. Nevertheless, with
respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination,
whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition,
language or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God's
intent. For in truth it must still be regretted that fundamental personal rights
are still not being universally honored. Such is the case of a woman who is
denied the right to choose a husband freely, to embrace a state of life or to
acquire an education or cultural benefits equal to those recognized for men.
Therefore, although rightful differences exist between men, the equal dignity
of persons demands that a more humane and just condition of life be brought
about. For excessive economic and social differences between the members of the
one human family or population groups cause scandal, and militate against social
justice, equity, the dignity of the human person, as well as social and
Human institutions, both private and public, must labor to minister to the
dignity and purpose of man. At the same time let them put up a stubborn fight
against any kind of slavery, whether social or political, and safeguard the
basic rights of man under every political system. Indeed human institutions
themselves must be accommodated by degrees to the highest of all realities,
spiritual ones, even though meanwhile, a long enough time will be required
before they arrive at the desired goal.
30. Profound and rapid changes make it more necessary that no one ignoring
the trend of events or drugged by laziness, content himself with a merely
individualistic morality. It grows increasingly true that the obligations of
justice and love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common
good, according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes and
assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering the
conditions of human life. Yet there are those who, while possessing grand and
rather noble sentiments, nevertheless in reality live always as if they cared
nothing for the needs of society. Many in various places even make light of
social laws and precepts, and do not hesitate to resort to various frauds and
deceptions in avoiding just taxes or other debts due to society. Others think
little of certain norms of social life, for example those designed for the
protection of health, or laws establishing speed limits; they do not even avert
to the fact that by such indifference they imperil their own life and that of
Let everyone consider it his sacred obligation to esteem and observe social
necessities as belonging to the primary duties of modern man. For the more
unified the world becomes, the more plainly do the offices of men extend beyond
particular groups and spread by degrees to the whole world. But this development
cannot occur unless individual men and their associations cultivate in
themselves the moral and social virtues, and promote them in society; thus, with
the needed help of divine grace men who are truly new and artisans of a new
humanity can be forthcoming
31. In order for individual men to discharge with greater exactness the
obligations of their conscience toward themselves and the various group to which
they belong, they must be carefully educated to a higher degree of culture
through the use of the immense resources available today to the human race.
Above all the education of youth from every social background has to be
undertaken, so that there can be produced not only men and women of refined
talents, but those great-souled persons who are so desperately required by our
Now a man can scarcely arrive at the needed sense of responsibility, unless
his living conditions allow him to become conscious of his dignity, and to rise
to his destiny by spending himself for God and for others. But human freedom is
often crippled when a man encounters extreme poverty just as it withers when he
indulges in too many of life's comforts and imprisons himself in a kind of
splendid isolation. Freedom acquires new strength, by contrast, when a man
consents to the unavoidable requirements of social life, takes on the manifold
demands of human partnership, and commits himself to the service of the human
Hence, the will to play one's role in common endeavors should be everywhere
encouraged. Praise is due to those national procedures which allow the largest
possible number of citizens to participate in public affairs with genuine
freedom. Account must be taken, to be sure, of the actual conditions of each
people and the decisiveness required by public authority. If every citizen is to
feel inclined to take part in the activities of the various groups which make up
the social body, these must offer advantages which will attract members and
dispose them to serve others. We can justly consider that the future of humanity
lies in the hands of those who are strong enough to provide coming generations
with reasons for living and hoping.
32. As God did not create man for life in isolation, but for the formation of
social unity, so also "it has pleased God to make men holy and save them not
merely as individuals, without bond or link between them, but by making them
into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in
holiness."(13) So from the beginning of salvation history He has chosen men not
just as individuals but as members of a certain community. Revealing His mind to
them, God called these chosen ones "His people" (Ex. 3:7-12), and even made a
covenant with them on Sinai.(14)
This communitarian character is developed and consummated in the work of
Jesus Christ. For the very Word made flesh willed to share in the human
fellowship. He was present at the wedding of Cana, visited the house of
Zacchaeus, ate with publicans and sinners. He revealed the love of the Father
and the sublime vocation of man in terms of the most common of social realities
and by making use of the speech and the imagery of plain everyday life.
Willingly obeying' the laws of his country He sanctified those human ties,
especially family ones, which are the source of social structures. He chose to
lead the life proper to an artisan of His time and place.
In His preaching He clearly taught the sons of God to treat one another as
brothers. In His prayers He pleaded that all His disciples might be "one."
Indeed as the redeemer of all, He offered Himself for all even to point of
death. "Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his
friends" (John 15:13). He commanded His Apostles to preach to all peoples the
Gospel's message that the human race was to become the Family of God, in which
the fullness of the Law would be love.
As the firstborn of many brethren and by the giving of His Spirit, He founded
after His death and resurrection a new brotherly community composed of all those
who receive Him in faith and in love. This He did through His Body, which is the
Church. There everyone, as members one of the other, would render mutual service
according to the different gifts bestowed on each.
This solidarity must be constantly increased until that day on which it will
be brought to perfection. Then, saved by grace, men will offer flawless glory to
God as a family beloved of God and of Christ their Brother.
MAN'S ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
33. Through his labors and his native endowments man has ceaselessly striven
to better his life. Today, however, especially with the help of science and
technology, he has extended his mastery over nearly the whole of nature and
continues to do so. Thanks to increased opportunities for many kinds of social
contact among nations, the human family is gradually recognizing that it comprises
a single world community and is making itself so. Hence many benefits once
looked for, especially from heavenly powers, man has now enterprisingly procured
In the face of these immense efforts which already preoccupy the whole human
race, men agitate numerous questions among themselves. What is the meaning and
value of this feverish activity? How should all these things be used? To the
achievement of what goal are the strivings of individuals and societies heading?
The Church guards the heritage of God's word and draws from it moral and
religious principles without always having at hand the solution to particular
problems. As such she desires to add the light of revealed truth to mankind's
store of experience, so that the path which humanity has taken in recent times
will not be a dark one.
34. Throughout the course of the centuries, men have labored to better the
circumstances of their lives through a monumental amount of individual and
collective effort. To believers, this point is settled: considered in itself,
this human activity accords with God's will. For man, created to God's image,
received a mandate to subject to himself the earth and all it contains, and to
govern the world with justice and holiness;(1) a mandate to relate himself and
the totality of things to Him Who was to be acknowledged as the Lord and Creator
of all. Thus, by the subjection of all things to man, the name of God would be
wonderful in all the earth.(2)
This mandate concerns the whole of everyday activity as well. For while
providing the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women
are performing their activities in a way which appropriately benefits society.
They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding the Creator's
work, consulting the advantages of their brother men, and are contributing by
their personal industry to the realization in history of the divine plan.(3)
Thus, far from thinking that works produced by man's own talent and energy
are in opposition to God's power, and that the rational creature exists as a
kind of rival to the Creator, Christians are convinced that the triumphs of the
human race are a sign of God's grace and the flowering of His own mysterious
design. For the greater man's power becomes, the farther his individual and
community responsibility extends. Hence it is clear that men are not deterred by
the Christian message from building up the world, or impelled to neglect the
welfare of their fellows, but that they are rather more stringently bound to do
these very things.(4)
35. Human activity, to be sure, takes its significance from its relationship
to man. Just as it proceeds from man, so it is ordered toward man. For when a
man works he not only alters things and society, he develops himself as well. He
learns much, he cultivates his resources, he goes outside of himself and beyond
himself. Rightly understood this kind of growth is of greater value than any
external riches which can be garnered. A man is more precious for what he is
than for what he has.(5) Similarly, all that men do to obtain greater justice,
wider brotherhood, a more humane disposition of social relationships has greater
worth than technical advances. For these advances can supply the material for
human progress, but of themselves alone they can never actually bring it about.
Hence, the norm of human activity is this: that in accord with the divine
plan and will, it harmonize with the genuine good of the human race, and that it
allow men as individuals and as members of society to pursue their total
vocation and fulfill it.
36. Now many of our contemporaries seem to fear that a closer bond between
human activity and religion will work against the independence of men, of
societies, or of the sciences.
If by the autonomy of earthly affairs we mean that created things and
societies themselves enjoy their own laws and values which must be gradually
deciphered, put to use, and regulated by men, then it is entirely right to
demand that autonomy. Such is not merely required by modern man, but harmonizes
also with the will of the Creator. For by the very circumstance of their having
been created, all things are endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness,
proper laws and order. Man must respect these as he isolates them by the
appropriate methods of the individual sciences or arts. Therefore if methodical
investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely
scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with
faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God.
(6) Indeed whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and
steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by
the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their
identity. Consequently, we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are
sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the
rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies
they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually
But if the expression, the independence of temporal affairs, is taken to mean
that created things do not depend on God, and that man can use them without any
reference to their Creator, anyone who acknowledges God will see how false such
a meaning is. For without the Creator the creature would disappear. For their
part, however, all believers of whatever religion always hear His revealing
voice in the discourse of creatures. When God is forgotten, however, the
creature itself grows unintelligible.
37. Sacred Scripture teaches the human family what the experience of the ages
confirms: that while human progress is a great advantage to man, it brings with
it a strong temptation. For when the order of values is jumbled and bad is mixed
with the good, individuals and groups pay heed solely to their own interests,
and not to those of others. Thus it happens that the world ceases to be a place
of true brotherhood. In our own day, the magnified power of humanity threatens
to destroy the race itself.
For a monumental struggle against the powers of darkness pervades the whole
history of man. The battle was joined from the very origins of the world and
will continue until the last day, as the Lord has attested.(8) Caught in this
conflict, man is obliged to wrestle constantly if he is to cling to what is
good, nor can he achieve his own integrity without great efforts and the help of
That is why Christ's Church, trusting in the design of the Creator,
acknowledges that human progress can serve man's true happiness, yet she cannot
help echoing the Apostle's warning: "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom.
12:2). Here by the world is meant that spirit of vanity and malice which
transforms into an instrument of sin those human energies intended for the
service of God and man.
Hence if anyone wants to know how this unhappy situation can be overcome,
Christians will tell him that all human activity, constantly imperiled by man's
pride and deranged self-love, must be purified and perfected by the power of
Christ's cross and resurrection. For redeemed by Christ and made a new creature
in the Holy Spirit, man is able to love the things themselves created by God,
and ought to do so. He can receive them from God and respect and reverence them
as flowing constantly from the hand of God. Grateful to his Benefactor for these
creatures, using and enjoying them in detachment and liberty of spirit, man is
led forward into a true possession of them, as having nothing, yet possessing
all things.(9) "All are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's" (1
38. For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh
and dwelt on the earth of men.(10) Thus He entered the world's history as a
perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it.(11) He
Himself revealed to us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8) and at the same time
taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and
hence of the worlds transformation.
To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the
way of love lies open to men and that the effort to establish a universal
brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this
charity is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be
pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life. Undergoing death itself
for all of us sinners,(12) He taught us by example that we too must shoulder
that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who search after
peace and justice. Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in
heaven and on earth,(13) Christ is now at work in the hearts of men through the
energy of His Holy Spirit, arousing not only a desire for the age to come, but
by that very fact animating, purifying and strengthening those noble longings
too by which the human family makes its life more human and strives to render
the whole earth submissive to this goal.
Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse: while He calls some to give clear
witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among
the human family, He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly
service of men and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this
ministry of theirs. Yet He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of
self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can
devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering
accepted by God.(14)
The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life's journey in
that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are gloriously
changed into His Body and Blood, providing a meal of brotherly solidarity and a
foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
39. We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of
humanity,(15) nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by
sin, the shape of this world will pass away;(16) but we are taught that God is
preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide,(17) and
whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which
spring up in the human heart.(18) Then, with death overcome, the sons of God
will be raised up in Christ, and what was sown in weakness and corruption will
be invested with incorruptibility.(19) Enduring with charity and its fruits,(20)
all that creation(21) which God made on man's account will be unchained from the
bondage of vanity.
Therefore, while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the
whole world and lose himself,(22) the expectation of a new earth must not weaken
but rather stimulate our concern for cultivating this one. For here grows the
body of a new human family, a body which even now is able to give some kind of
foreshadowing of the new age.
Hence, while earthly progress must be carefully distinguished from the growth
of Christ's kingdom, to the extent that the former can contribute to the better
ordering of human society, it is of vital concern to the Kingdom of God.(23)
For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the
values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits
of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain,
burnished and transfigured, when Christ hands over to the Father: "a kingdom
eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of
justice, love and peace."(24) On this earth that Kingdom is already present in
mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.
THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD
40. Everything we have said about the dignity of the human person, and about
the human community and the profound meaning of human activity, lays the
foundation for the relationship between the Church and the world, and provides
the basis for dialogue between them.(1) In this chapter, presupposing everything
which has already been said by this council concerning the mystery of the
Church, we must now consider this same Church inasmuch as she exists in the
world, living and acting with it.
Coming forth from the eternal Father's love,(2) founded in time by Christ the
Redeemer and made one in the Holy Spirit,(3) the Church has a saving and an
eschatological purpose which can be fully attained only in the future world. But
she is already present in this world, and is composed of men, that is, of
members of the earthly city who have a call to form the family of God's children
during the present history of the human race, and to keep increasing it until
the Lord returns. United on behalf of heavenly values and enriched by them, this
family has been "constituted and structured as a society in this world"(4) by
Christ, and is equipped "by appropriate means for visible and social union."(5)
Thus the Church, at once "a visible association and a spiritual community,"(6)
goes forward together with humanity and experiences the same earthly lot which
the world does. She serves as a leaven and as a kind of soul for human
society(7) as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God's family.
That the earthly and the heavenly city penetrate each other is a fact
accessible to faith alone; it remains a mystery of human history, which sin will
keep in great disarray until the splendor of God's sons, is fully revealed.
Pursuing the saving purpose which is proper to her, the Church does not only
communicate divine life to men but in some way casts the reflected light of that
life over the entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on
the dignity of the person, by the way in which it strengthens the seams of human
society and imbues the everyday activity of men with a deeper meaning and
importance. Thus through her individual matters and her whole community, the
Church believes she can contribute greatly toward making the family of man and
its history more human.
In addition, the Catholic Church gladly holds in high esteem the things which
other Christian Churches and ecclesial communities have done or are doing
cooperatively by way of achieving the same goal. At the same time, she is
convinced that she can be abundantly and variously helped by the world in the
matter of preparing the ground for the Gospel. This help she gains from the
talents and industry of individuals and from human society as a whole. The
council now sets forth certain general principles for the proper fostering of
this mutual exchange and assistance in concerns which are in some way common to
the world and the Church.
41. Modern man is on the road to a more thorough development of his own
personality, and to a growing discovery and vindication of his own rights. Since
it has been entrusted to the Church to reveal the mystery of God, Who is the
ultimate goal of man, she opens up to man at the same time the meaning of his
own existence, that is, the innermost truth about himself. The Church truly
knows that only God, Whom she serves, meets the deepest longings of the human
heart, which is never fully satisfied by what this world has to offer.
She also knows that man is constantly worked upon by God's spirit, and hence
can never be altogether indifferent to the problems of religion. The experience
of past ages proves this, as do numerous indications in our own times. For man
will always yearn to know, at least in an obscure way, what is the meaning of
his life, of his activity, of his death. The very presence of the Church recalls
these problems to his mind. But only God, Who created man to His own image and
ransomed him from sin, provides the most adequate answer to the questions, and
this He does through what He has revealed in Christ His Son, Who became man.
Whoever follows after Christ, the perfect man, becomes himself more of a man.
For by His incarnation the Father's Word assumed, and sanctified through His
cross and resurrection, the whole of man, body and soul, and through that
totality the whole of nature created by God for man's use.
Thanks to this belief, the Church can anchor the dignity of human nature
against all tides of opinion, for example those which undervalue the human body
or idolize it. By no human law can the personal dignity and liberty of man be so
aptly safeguarded as by the Gospel of Christ which has been entrusted to the
Church. For this Gospel announces and proclaims the freedom of the sons of God,
and repudiates all the bondage which ultimately results from sin.(8) (cf. Rom.
8:14-17); it has a sacred reverence for the dignity of conscience and its
freedom of choice, constantly advises that all human talents be employed in
God's service and men's, and, finally, commends all to the charity of all (cf.
This agrees with the basic law of the Christian dispensation. For though the
same God is Savior and Creator, Lord of human history as well as of salvation
history, in the divine arrangement itself, the rightful autonomy of the
creature, and particularly of man is not withdrawn, but is rather re-established
in its own dignity and strengthened in it.
The Church, therefore, by virtue of the Gospel committed to her, proclaims
the rights of man; she acknowledges and greatly esteems the dynamic movements of
today by which these rights are everywhere fostered. Yet these movements must be
penetrated by the spirit of the Gospel and protected against any kind of false
autonomy. For we are tempted to think that our personal rights are fully ensured
only when we are exempt from every requirement of divine law. But this way lies
not the maintenance of the dignity of the human person, but its annihilation.
42. The union of the human family is greatly fortified and fulfilled by the
unity, founded on Christ,(10) of the family of God's sons.
Christ, to be sure, gave His Church no proper mission in the political,
economic or social order. The purpose which He set before her is a religious
one.(11) But out of this religious mission itself come a function, a light and
an energy which can serve to structure and consolidate the human community
according to the divine law. As a matter of fact, when circumstances of time and
place produce the need, she can and indeed should initiate activities on behalf
of all men, especially those designed for the needy, such as the works of mercy
and similar undertakings.
The Church recognizes that worthy elements are found in today's social
movements, especially an evolution toward unity, a process of wholesome
socialization and of association in civic and economic realms. The promotion of
unity belongs to the innermost nature of the Church, for she is, "thanks to her
relationship with Christ, a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union
with God, and of the unity of the whole human race."(12) Thus she shows the
world that an authentic union, social and external, results from a union of
minds and hearts, namely from that faith and charity by which her own unity is
unbreakably rooted in the Holy Spirit. For the force which the Church can inject
into the modern society of man consists in that faith and charity put into vital
practice, not in any external dominion exercised by merely human means.
Moreover, since in virtue of her mission and nature she is bound to no
particular form of human culture, nor to any political, economic or social
system, the Church by her very universality can be a very close bond between
diverse human communities and nations, provided these trust her and truly
acknowledge her right to true freedom in fulfilling her mission. For this
reason, the Church admonishes her own sons, but also humanity as a whole, to
overcome all strife between nations and race in this family spirit of God's
children, an in the same way, to give internal strength to human associations
which are just.
With great respect, therefore, this council regards all the true, good and
just elements inherent in the very wide variety of institutions which the human
race has established for itself and constantly continues to establish. The
council affirms, moreover, that the Church is willing to assist and promote all
these institutions to the extent that such a service depends on her and can be
associated with her mission. She has no fiercer desire than that in pursuit of
the welfare of all she may be able to develop herself freely under any kind of
government which grants recognition to the basic rights of person and family, to
the demands of the common good and to the free exercise of her own mission.
43. This council exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to
discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit.
They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one
which is to come,(13) think that they may therefore shirk their earthly
responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more
obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper
vocation.(14) Nor, on the contrary, are they any less wide of the mark who think
that religion consists in acts of worship alone and in the discharge of certain
moral obligations, and who imagine they can plunge themselves into earthly
affairs in such a way as to imply that these are altogether divorced from the
religious life. This split between the faith which many profess and their daily
lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. Long
since, the Prophets of the Old Testament fought vehemently against this
scandal(15) and even more so did Jesus Christ Himself in the New Testament
threaten it with grave punishments.(16) Therefore, let there be no false
opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and
religious life on the other. The Christian who neglects his temporal duties,
neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his
eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example
of Christ Who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all
their earthly activities and to their humane, domestic, professional, social and
technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious
values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God's
Secular duties and activities belong properly although not exclusively to
laymen. Therefore acting as citizens in the world, whether individually or
socially, they will keep the laws proper to each discipline, and labor to equip
themselves with a genuine expertise in their various fields. They will gladly
work with men seeking the same goals. Acknowledging the demands of faith and
endowed with its force, they will unhesitatingly devise new enterprises, where
they are appropriate, and put them into action. Laymen should also know that it
is generally the function of their well-formed Christian conscience to see that
the divine law is inscribed in the life of the earthly city; from priests they
may look for spiritual light and nourishment. Let the layman not imagine that
his pastors are always such experts, that to every problem which arises, however
complicated, they can readily give him a concrete solution, or even that such is
their mission. Rather, enlightened by Christian wisdom and giving close
attention to the teaching authority of the Church,(17) let the layman take on
his own distinctive role.
Often enough the Christian view of things will itself suggest some specific
solution in certain circumstances. Yet it happens rather frequently, and
legitimately so, that with equal sincerity some of the faithful will disagree
with others on a given matter. Even against the intentions of their proponents,
however, solutions proposed on one side or another may be easily confused by
many people with the Gospel message. Hence it is necessary for people to
remember that no one is allowed in the aforementioned situations to appropriate
the Church's authority for his opinion. They should always try to enlighten one
another through honest discussion, preserving mutual charity and caring above
all for the common good.
Since they have an active role to play in the whole life of the Church,
laymen are not only bound to penetrate the world with a Christian spirit, but
are also called to be witnesses to Christ in all things in the midst of human
Bishops, to whom is assigned the task of ruling the Church of God, should,
together with their priests, so preach the news of Christ that all the earthly
activities of the faithful will be bathed in the light of the Gospel. All
pastors should remember too that by their daily conduct and concern(18) they are
revealing the face of the Church to the world, and men will judge the power and
truth of the Christian message thereby. By their lives and speech, in union with
Religious and their faithful, may they demonstrate that even now the Church by
her presence alone and by all the gifts which she contains, is an unspent
fountain of those virtues which the modern world needs the most.
By unremitting study they should fit themselves to do their part in
establishing dialogue with the world and with men of all shades of opinion.
Above all let them take to heart the words which this council has spoken: "Since
humanity today increasingly moves toward civil, economic and social unity, it is
more than ever necessary that priests, with joint concern and energy, and under
the guidance of the bishops and the supreme pontiff, erase every cause of
division, so that the whole human race may be led to the unity of God's
Although by the power of the Holy Spirit the Church will remain the faithful
spouse of her Lord and will never cease to be the sign of salvation on earth,
still she is very well aware that among her members,(20) both clerical and lay,
some have been unfaithful to the Spirit of God during the course of many
centuries; in the present age, too, it does not escape the Church how great a
distance lies between the message she offers and the human failings of those to
whom the Gospel is entrusted. Whatever be the judgement of history on these
defects, we ought to be conscious of them, and struggle against them
energetically, lest they inflict harm on spread of the Gospel. The Church also
realizes that in working out her relationship with the world she always has
great need of the ripening which comes with the experience of the centuries. Led
by the Holy Spirit, Mother Church unceasingly exhorts her sons "to purify and
renew themselves so that the sign of Christ can shine more brightly on the face
of the Church."(21)
44. Just as it is in the world's interest to acknowledge the Church as an
historical reality, and to recognize her good influence, so the Church herself
knows how richly she has profited by the history and development of humanity.
The experience of past ages, the progress of the sciences, and the treasures
hidden in the various forms of human culture, by all of which the nature of man
himself is more clearly revealed and new roads to truth are opened, these profit
the Church, too. For, from the beginning of her history she has learned to
express the message of Christ with the help of the ideas and terminology of
various philosophers, and and has tried to clarify it with their wisdom, too.
Her purpose has been to adapt the Gospel to the grasp of all as well as to the
needs of the learned, insofar as such was appropriate. Indeed this accommodated
preaching of the revealed word ought to remain the law of all evangelization.
For thus the ability to express Christ's message in its own way is developed in
each nation, and at the same time there is fostered a living exchange between
the Church and the diverse cultures of people.(22) To promote such exchange,
especially in our days, the Church requires the special help of those who live
in the world, are versed in different institutions and specialties, and grasp
their innermost significance in the eyes of both believers and unbelievers. With
the help of the Holy Spirit, it is the task of the entire People of God,
especially pastors and theologians, to hear, distinguish and interpret the many
voices of our age, and to judge them in the light of the divine word, so that
revealed truth can always be more deeply penetrated, better understood and set
forth to greater advantage.
Since the Church has a visible and social structure as a sign of her unity in
Christ, she can and ought to be enriched by the development of human social
life, not that there is any lack in the constitution given her by Christ, but
that she can understand it more penetratingly, express it better, and adjust it
more successfully to our times. Moreover, she gratefully understands that in her
community life no less than in her individual sons, she receives a variety of
helps from men of every rank and condition, for whoever promotes the human
community at the family level, culturally, in its economic, social and political
dimensions, both nationally and internationally, such a one, according to God's
design, is contributing greatly to the Church as well, to the extent that she
depends on things outside herself. Indeed, the Church admits that she has
greatly profited and still profits from the antagonism of those who oppose or
who persecute her.(23)
45. While helping the world and receiving many benefits from it, the Church
has a single intention: that God's kingdom may come, and that the salvation of
the whole human race may come to pass. For every benefit which the People of God
during its earthly pilgrimage can offer to the human family stems from the fact
that the Church is "the universal sacrament of salvation",(24) simultaneously
manifesting and exercising the mystery of God's love.
For God's Word, by whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh so that
as perfect man He might save all men and sum up all things in Himself. The Lord
is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of
civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the
answer to all its yearnings.(25) He it is Whom the Father raised from the dead,
lifted on high and stationed at His right hand, making Him judge of the living
and the dead. Enlivened and united in His Spirit, we journey toward the
consummation of human history, one which fully accords with the counsel of God's
love: "To reestablish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those
on the earth" (Eph. 11:10).
The Lord Himself speaks: "Behold I come quickly! And my reward is with me, to
render to each one according to his works. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
first and the last, the beginning and the end (Rev. 22:12-13).
SOME PROBLEMS OF SPECIAL URGENCY
46. This council has set forth the dignity of the human person, and the work
which men have been destined to undertake throughout the world both as
individuals and as members of society. There are a number of particularly urgent
needs characterizing the present age, needs which go to the roots of the human
race. To a consideration of these in the light of the Gospel and of human
experience, the council would now direct the attention of all.
Of the many subjects arousing universal concern today, it may be helpful to
concentrate on these: marriage and the family, human progress, life in its
economic, social and political dimensions, the bonds between the family of
nations, and peace. On each of these may there shine the radiant ideals
proclaimed by Christ. By these ideals may Christians be led, and all mankind
enlightened, as they search for answers to questions of such complexity.
FOSTERING THE NOBILITY OF MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
47. The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian
society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community
produced by marriage and family. Hence Christians and all men who hold this
community in high esteem sincerely rejoice in the various ways by which men
today find help in fostering this community of love and perfecting its life, and
by which parents are assisted in their lofty calling. Those who rejoice in such
aids look for additional benefits from them and labor to bring them about.
Yet the excellence of this institution is not everywhere reflected with equal
brilliance, since polygamy, the plague of divorce, so-called free love and other
disfigurements have an obscuring effect. In addition, married love is too often
profaned by excessive self-love, the worship of pleasure and illicit practices
against human generation. Moreover, serious disturbances are caused in families
by modern economic conditions, by influences at once social and psychological,
and by the demands of civil society. Finally, in certain parts of the world
problems resulting from population growth are generating concern.
All these situations have produced anxiety of consciences. Yet, the power and
strength of the institution of marriage and family can also be seen in the fact
that time and again, despite the difficulties produced, the profound changes in
modern society reveal the true character of this institution in one way or
Therefore, by presenting certain key points of Church doctrine in a clearer
light, this sacred synod wishes to offer guidance and support to those
Christians and other men who are trying to preserve the holiness and to foster
the natural dignity of the married state and its superlative value.
48. The intimate partnership of married life and love has been established by
the Creator and qualified by His laws, and is rooted in the conjugal covenant of
irrevocable personal consent. Hence by that human act whereby spouses mutually
bestow and accept each other a relationship arises which by divine will and in
the eyes of society too is a lasting one. For the good of the spouses and their
off-springs as well as of society, the existence of the sacred bond no longer
depends on human decisions alone. For, God Himself is the author of matrimony,
endowed as it is with various benefits and purposes.(1) All of these have a very
decisive bearing on the continuation of the human race, on the personal
development and eternal destiny of the individual members of a family, and on
the dignity, stability, peace and prosperity of the family itself and of human
society as a whole. By their very nature, the institution of matrimony itself
and conjugal love are ordained for the procreation and education of children,
and find in them their ultimate crown. Thus a man and a woman, who by their
compact of conjugal love "are no longer two, but one flesh" (Matt. 19:ff),
render mutual help and service to each other through an intimate union of their
persons and of their actions. Through this union they experience the meaning of
their oneness and attain to it with growing perfection day by day. As a mutual
gift of two persons, this intimate union and the good of the children impose
total fidelity on the spouses and argue for an unbreakable oneness between
Christ the Lord abundantly blessed this many-faceted love, welling up as it
does from the fountain of divine love and structured as it is on the model of
His union with His Church. For as God of old made Himself present(3) to His
people through a covenant of love and fidelity, so now the Savior of men and the
Spouse(4) of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians through the
sacrament of matrimony. He abides with them thereafter so that just as He loved
the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf,(6) the spouses may love each
other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.
Authentic married love is caught up into divine love and is governed and
enriched by Christ's redeeming power and the saving activity of the Church, so
that this love may lead the spouses to God with powerful effect and may aid and
strengthen them in sublime office of being a father or a mother.(6) For this
reason Christian spouses have a special sacrament by which they are fortified
and receive a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state.(7)
By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfil their conjugal and family
obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, which suffuses their
whole lives with faith, hope and charity. Thus they increasingly advance the
perfection of their own personalities, as well as their mutual sanctification,
and hence contribute jointly to the glory of God.
As a result, with their parents leading the way by example and family prayer,
children and indeed everyone gathered around the family hearth will find a
readier path to human maturity, salvation and holiness. Graced with the dignity
and office of fatherhood and motherhood, parents will energetically acquit
themselves of a duty which devolves primarily on them, namely education and
especially religious education.
As living members of the family, children contribute in their own way to
making their parents holy. For they will respond to the kindness of their
parents with sentiments of gratitude, with love and trust. They will stand by
them as children should when hardships overtake their parents and old age brings
its loneliness. Widowhood, accepted bravely as a continuation of the marriage
vocation, should be esteemed by all.(8) Families too will share their spiritual
riches generously with other families. Thus the Christian family, which springs
from marriage as a reflection of the loving covenant uniting Christ with the
Church,(9) and as a participation in that covenant, will manifest to all men
Christ's living presence in the world, and the genuine nature of the Church.
This the family will do by the mutual love of the spouses, by their generous
fruitfulness, their solidarity and faithfulness, and by the loving way in which
all members of the family assist one another.
49. The biblical Word of God several times urges the betrothed and the
married to nourish and develop their wedlock by pure conjugal love and undivided
affection.(10) Many men of our own age also highly regard true love between
husband and wife as it manifests itself in a variety of ways depending on the
worthy customs of various peoples and times.
This love is an eminently human one since it is directed from one person to
another through an affection of the will; it involves the good of the whole
person, and therefore can enrich the expressions of body and mind with a unique
dignity, ennobling these expressions as special ingredients and signs of the
friendship distinctive of marriage. This love God has judged worthy of special
gifts, healing, perfecting and exalting gifts of grace and of charity. Such
love, merging the human with the divine, leads the spouses to a free and mutual
gift of themselves, a gift providing itself by gentle affection and by deed,
such love pervades the whole of their lives:(11) indeed by its busy generosity
it grows better and grows greater. Therefore it far excels mere erotic
inclination, which, selfishly pursued, soon enough fades wretchedly away.
This love is uniquely expressed and perfected through the appropriate
enterprise of matrimony. The actions within marriage by which the couple are
united intimately and chastely are noble and worthy ones. Expressed in a manner
which is truly human, these actions promote that mutual self-giving by which
spouses enrich each other with a joyful and a ready will. Sealed by mutual
faithfulness and hallowed above all by Christ's sacrament, this love remains
steadfastly true in body and in mind, in bright days or dark. It will never be
profaned by adultery or divorce. Firmly established by the Lord, the unity of
marriage will radiate from the equal personal dignity of wife and husband, a
dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love. The constant fulfillment of the
duties of this Christian vocation demands notable virtue. For this reason,
strengthened by grace for holiness of life, the couple will painstakingly
cultivate and pray for steadiness of love, large heartedness and the spirit of
Authentic conjugal love will be more highly prized, and wholesome public
opinion created about it if Christian couples give outstanding witness to
faithfulness and harmony in their love, and to their concern for educating their
children also, if they do their part in bringing about the needed cultural,
psychological and social renewal on behalf of marriage and the family.
Especially in the heart of their own families, young people should be aptly and
seasonably instructed in the dignity, duty and work of married love. Trained
thus in the cultivation of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to
enter a marriage of their own after an honorable courtship.
50. Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the
begetting and educating of children. Children are really the supreme gift of
marriage and contribute very substantially to the welfare of their parents. The
God Himself Who said, "it is not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18) and "Who
made man from the beginning male and female" (Matt. 19:4), wishing to share with
man a certain special participation in His own creative work, blessed male and
female, saying: "Increase and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). Hence, while not making the
other purposes of matrimony of less account, the true practice of conjugal love,
and the whole meaning of the family life which results from it, have this aim:
that the couple be ready with stout hearts to cooperate with the love of the
Creator and the Savior. Who through them will enlarge and enrich His own family
day by day.
Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human
life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize
that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so
to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfil their task with
human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will
make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into
account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born
and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon
with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of
their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family
group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves
and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. But in
their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed
arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully
conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church's
teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the
Gospel. That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal
love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment. Thus, trusting in divine
Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice,(12) married Christians glorify
the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human
and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the duty to
procreate. Among the couples who fulfil their God-given task in this way, those
merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common
deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.(13)
Marriage to be sure is not instituted solely for procreation; rather, its
very nature as an unbreakable compact between persons, and the welfare of the
children, both demand that the mutual love of the spouses be embodied in a
rightly ordered manner, that it grow and ripen. Therefore, marriage persists as
a whole manner and communion of life, and maintains its value and
indissolubility, even when despite the often intense desire of the couple,
offspring are lacking.
51. This council realizes that certain modern conditions often keep couples
from arranging their married lives harmoniously, and that they find themselves
in circumstances where at least temporarily the size of their families should
not be increased. As a result, the faithful exercise of love and the full
intimacy of their lives is hard to maintain. But where the intimacy of married
life is broken off, its faithfulness can sometimes be imperiled and its quality
of fruitfulness ruined, for then the upbringing of the children and the courage
to accept new ones are both endangered.
To these problems there are those who presume to offer dishonorable solutions
indeed; they do not recoil even from the taking of life. But the Church issues
the reminder that a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws
pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to authentic
For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of
safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment
of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and
infanticide are unspeakable crimes. The sexual characteristics of man and the
human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms
of life. Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which
are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great
reverence. Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the
responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not
depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be
determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human
person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human
procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless
the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these
principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which
are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding
of the divine law.(14)
All should be persuaded that human life and the task of transmitting it are
not realities bound up with this world alone. Hence they cannot be measured or
perceived only in terms of it, but always have a bearing on the eternal destiny
52. The family is a kind of school of deeper humanity. But if it is to
achieve the full flowering of its life and mission, it needs the kindly
communion of minds and the joint deliberation of spouses, as well as the
painstaking cooperation of parents in the education of their children. The
active presence of the father is highly beneficial to their formation. The
children, especially the younger among them, need the care of their mother at
home. This domestic role of hers must be safely preserved, though the legitimate
social progress of women should not be underrated on that account.
Children should be so educated that as adults they can follow their vocation,
including a religious one, with a mature sense of responsibility and can choose
their state of life; if they marry, they can thereby establish their family in
favorable moral, social and economic conditions. Parents or guardians should by
prudent advice provide guidance to their young with respect to founding a
family, and the young ought to listen gladly. At the same time no pressure,
direct or indirect, should be put on the young to make them enter marriage or
choose a specific partner.
Thus the family, in which the various generations come together and help one
another grow wiser and harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of
social life, is the foundation of society. All those, therefore, who exercise
influence over communities and social groups should work efficiently for the
welfare of marriage and the family. Public authority should regard it as a
sacred duty to recognize, protect and promote their authentic nature, to shield
public morality and to favor the prosperity of home life. The right of parents
to beget and educate their children in the bosom of the family must be
safeguarded. Children too who unhappily lack the blessing of a family should be
protected by prudent legislation and various undertakings and assisted by the
help they need.
Christians, redeeming the present time(13) and distinguishing eternal
realities from their changing expressions, should actively promote the values of
marriage and the family, both by the examples of their own lives and by
cooperation with other men of good will. Thus when difficulties arise,
Christians will provide, on behalf of family life, those necessities and helps
which are suitably modern. To this end, the Christian instincts of the faithful,
the upright moral consciences of men, and the wisdom and experience of persons
versed in the sacred sciences will have much to contribute.
Those too who are skilled in other sciences, notably the medical, biological,
social and psychological, can considerably advance the welfare of marriage and
the family along with peace of conscience if by pooling their efforts they labor
to explain more thoroughly the various conditions favoring a proper regulation
It devolves on priests duly trained about family matters to nurture the
vocation of spouses by a variety of pastoral means, by preaching God's word, by
liturgical worship, and by other spiritual aids to conjugal and family life; to
sustain them sympathetically and patiently in difficulties, and to make them
courageous through love, so that families which are truly illustrious can be
Various organizations, especially family associations, should try by their
programs of instruction and action to strengthen young people and spouses
themselves, particularly those recently wed, and to train them for family,
social and apostolic life.
Finally, let the spouses themselves, made to the image of the living God and
enjoying the authentic dignity of persons, be joined to one another(16) in equal
affection, harmony of mind and the work of mutual sanctification. Thus,
following Christ who is the principle of life,(17) by the sacrifices and joys of
their vocation and through their faithful love, married people can become
witnesses of the mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by His
dying and His rising up to life again.(18)
THE PROPER DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURE
53. Man comes to a true and full humanity only through culture, that is
through the cultivation of the goods and values of nature. Wherever human life
is involved, therefore, nature and culture are quite intimately connected one
with the other.
The word "culture" in its general sense indicates everything whereby man
develops and perfects his many bodily and spiritual qualities; he strives by his
knowledge and his labor, to bring the world itself under his control. He renders
social life more human both in the family and the civic community, through
improvement of customs and institutions. Throughout the course of time he
expresses, communicates and conserves in his works, great spiritual experiences
and desires, that they might be of advantage to the progress of many, even of
the whole human family.
Thence it follows that human culture has necessarily a historical and social
aspect and the word "culture" also often assumes a sociological and ethnological
sense. According to this sense we speak of a plurality of cultures. Different
styles of life and multiple scales of values arise from the diverse manner of
using things, of laboring, of expressing oneself, of practicing religion, of
forming customs, of establishing laws and juridic institutions, of cultivating
the sciences, the arts and beauty. Thus the customs handed down to it form the
patrimony proper to each human community. It is also in this way that there is
formed the definite, historical milieu which enfolds the man of every nation and
age and from which he draws the values which permit him to promote civilization.
The Circumstances of Culture in the World Today
54. The circumstances of the life of modern man have been so profoundly
changed in their social and cultural aspects, that we can speak of a new age of
human history.(1) New ways are open, therefore, for the perfection and the
further extension of culture. These ways have been prepared by the enormous
growth of natural, human and social sciences, by technical progress, and
advances in developing and organizing means whereby men can communicate with one
another. Hence the culture of today possesses particular characteristics:
sciences which are called exact greatly develop critical judgment; the more
recent psychological studies more profoundly explain human activity; historical
studies make it much easier to see things in their mutable and evolutionary
aspects, customs and usages are becoming more and more uniform;
industrialization, urbanization, and other causes which promote community living
create a mass-culture from which are born new ways of thinking, acting and
making use of leisure. The increase of commerce between the various nations and
human groups opens more widely to all the treasures of different civilizations
and thus little by little, there develops a more universal form of human
culture, which better promotes and expresses the unity of the human race to the
degree that it preserves the particular aspects of the different civilizations.
55. From day to day, in every group or nation, there is an increase in the
number of men and women who are conscious that they themselves are the authors
and the artisans of the culture of their community. Throughout the whole world
there is a mounting increase in the sense of autonomy as well as of
responsibility. This is of paramount importance for the spiritual and moral
maturity of the human race. This becomes more clear if we consider the
unification of the world and the duty which is imposed upon us, that we build a
better world based upon truth and justice. Thus we are witnesses of the birth of
a new humanism, one in which man is defined first of all by this responsibility
to his brothers and to history.
56. In these conditions, it is no cause of wonder that man, who senses his
responsibility for the progress of culture, nourishes a high hope but also looks
with anxiety upon many contradictory things which he must resolve:
What is to be done to prevent the increased exchanges between cultures, which
should lead to a true and fruitful dialogue between groups and nations, from
disturbing the life of communities, from destroying the wisdom received from
ancestors, or from placing in danger the character proper to each people?
How is the dynamism and expansion of a new culture to be fostered without
losing a living fidelity to the heritage of tradition. This question is of
particular urgency when a culture which arises from the enormous progress of
science and technology must be harmonized with a culture nourished by classical
studies according to various traditions.
How can we quickly and progressively harmonize the proliferation of
particular branches of study with the necessity of forming a synthesis of them,
and of preserving among men the faculties of contemplation and observation which
lead to wisdom?
What can be done to make all men partakers of cultural values in the world,
when the human culture of those who are more competent is constantly becoming
more refined and more complex?
Finally how is the autonomy which culture claims for itself to be recognized
as legitimate without generating a notion of humanism which is merely
terrestrial, and even contrary to religion itself.
In the midst of these conflicting requirements, human culture must evolve
today in such a way that it can both develop the whole human person and aid man
in those duties to whose fulfillment all are called, especially Christians
fraternally united in one human family.
Some Principles for the Proper Development of Culture
57. Christians, on pilgrimage toward the heavenly city, should seek and think
of these things which are above.(2) This duty in no way decreases, rather it
increases, the importance of their obligation to work with all men in the
building of a more human world. Indeed, the mystery of the Christian faith
furnishes them with an excellent stimulant and aid to fulfill this duty more
courageously and especially to uncover the full meaning of this activity, one
which gives to human culture its eminent place in the integral vocation of man.
When man develops the earth by the work of his hands or with the aid of
technology, in order that it might bear fruit and become a dwelling worthy of
the whole human family and when he consciously takes part in the life of social
groups, he carries out the design of God manifested at the beginning of time,
that he should subdue the earth, perfect creation and develop himself. At the
same time he obeys the commandment of Christ that he place himself at the
service of his brethren.
Furthermore, when man gives himself to the various disciplines of philosophy,
history and of mathematical and natural science, and when he cultivates the
arts, he can do very much to elevate the human family to a more sublime
understanding of truth, goodness, and beauty, and to the formation of considered
opinions which have universal value. Thus mankind may be more clearly
enlightened by that marvelous Wisdom which was with God from all eternity,
composing all things with him, rejoicing in the earth, delighting in the sons of
In this way, the human spirit, being less subjected to material things, can
be more easily drawn to the worship and contemplation of the Creator. Moreover,
by the impulse of grace, he is disposed to acknowledge the Word of God, Who
before He became flesh in order to save all and to sum up all in Himself was
already "in the world" as "the true light which enlightens every man" (John
Indeed today's progress in science and technology can foster a certain
exclusive emphasis on observable data, and an agnosticism about everything else.
For the methods of investigation which these sciences use can be wrongly
considered as the supreme rule of seeking the whole truth. By virtue of their
methods these sciences cannot penetrate to the intimate notion of things. Indeed
the danger is present that man, confiding too much in the discoveries of today,
may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher
Those unfortunate results, however, do not necessarily follow from the
culture of today, nor should they lead us into the temptation of not
acknowledging its positive values. Among these values are included: scientific
study and fidelity toward truth in scientific inquiries, the necessity of
working together with others in technical groups, a sense of international
solidarity, a clearer awareness of the responsibility of experts to aid and even
to protect men, the desire to make the conditions of life more favorable for
all, especially for those who are poor in culture or who are deprived of the
opportunity to exercise responsibility. All of these provide some preparation
for the acceptance of the message of the Gospel a preparation which can be
animated by divine charity through Him Who has come to save the world.
58. There are many ties between the message of salvation and human culture.
For God, revealing Himself to His people to the extent of a full manifestation
of Himself in His Incarnate Son, has spoken according to the culture proper to
Likewise the Church, living in various circumstances in the course of time,
has used the discoveries of different cultures so that in her preaching she
might spread and explain the message of Christ to all nations, that she might
examine it and more deeply understand it, that she might give it better
expression in liturgical celebration and in the varied life of the community of
But at the same time, the Church, sent to all peoples of every time and
place, is not bound exclusively and indissolubly to any race or nation, any
particular way of life or any customary way of life recent or ancient. Faithful
to her own tradition and at the same time conscious of her universal mission,
she can enter into communion with the various civilizations, to their enrichment
and the enrichment of the Church herself.
The Gospel of Christ constantly renews the life and culture of fallen man, it
combats and removes the errors and evils resulting from the permanent allurement
of sin. It never eases to purify and elevate the morality of peoples. By riches
coming from above, it makes fruitful, as it were from within, the spiritual
qualities and traditions of every people of every age. It strengthens,
perfects and restores(6) them in Christ. Thus the Church, in the very
fulfillment of her own function,(7) stimulates and advances human and civic
culture; by her action, also by her liturgy, she leads them toward interior
59. For the above reasons, the Church recalls to the mind of all that culture
is to be subordinated to the integral perfection of the human person, to the
good of the community and of the whole society. Therefore it is necessary to
develop the human faculties in such a way that there results a growth of the
faculty of admiration, of intuition, of contemplation, of making personal
judgment, of developing a religious, moral and social sense.
Culture, because it flows immediately from the spiritual and social character
of man, has constant need of a just liberty in order to develop; it needs also
the legitimate possibility of exercising its autonomy according to its own
principles. It therefore rightly demands respect and enjoys a certain
inviolability within the limits of the common good, as long, of course, as it
preserves the rights of the individual and the community, whether particular or
This Sacred Synod, therefore, recalling the teaching of the first Vatican
Council, declares that there are "two orders of knowledge" which are distinct,
namely faith and reason; and that the Church does not forbid that "the human
arts and disciplines use their own principles and their proper method, each in
its own domain"; therefore "acknowledging this just liberty," this Sacred Synod
affirms the legitimate autonomy of human culture and especially of the
All this supposes that, within the limits of morality and the common utility,
man can freely search for the truth, express his opinion and publish it; that he
can practice any art he chooses; that finally, he can avail himself of true
information concerning events of a public nature.(9)
As for public authority, it is not its function to determine the character of
the civilization, but rather to establish the conditions and to use the means
which are capable of fostering the life of culture among all even within the
minorities of a nation.(10) It is necessary to do everything possible to prevent
culture from being turned away from its proper end and made to serve as an
instrument of political or economic power.
Some More Urgent Duties of Christians in Regard to Culture
60. It is now possible to free most of humanity from the misery of ignorance.
Therefore the duty most consonant with our times, especially for Christians, is
that of working diligently for fundamental decisions to be taken in economic and
political affairs, both on the national and international level which will
everywhere recognize and satisfy the right of all to a human and social culture
in conformity with the dignity of the human person without any discrimination of
race, sex, nation, religion or social condition. Therefore it is necessary to
provide all with a sufficient quantity of cultural benefits, especially of those
which constitute the so-called fundamental culture lest very many be prevented
from cooperating in the promotion of the common good in a truly human manner
because of illiteracy and a lack of responsible activity.
We must strive to provide for those men who are gifted the possibility of
pursuing higher studies; and in such a way that, as far as possible, they may
occupy in society those duties, offices and services which are in harmony with
their natural aptitude and the competence they have acquired.(11) Thus each man
and the social groups of every people will be able to attain the full
development of their culture in conformity with their qualities and traditions.
Everything must be done to make everyone conscious of the right to culture
and the duty he has of developing himself culturally and of helping others.
Sometimes there exist conditions of life and of work which impede the cultural
striving of men and destroy in them the eagerness for culture. This is
especially true of farmers and workers. It is necessary to provide for them
those working conditions which will not impede their human culture but rather favor it. Women now work in almost all spheres. It is fitting that they are able
to assume their proper role in accordance with their own nature. It will belong
to all to acknowledge and favor the proper and necessary participation of women
in the cultural life.
61. Today it is more difficult to form a synthesis of the various disciplines
of knowledge and the arts than it was formerly. For while the mass and the
diversity of cultural factors are increasing, there is a decrease in each man's
faculty of perceiving and unifying these things, so that the image of "universal
man" is being lost sight of more and more. Nevertheless it remains each man's
duty to retain an understanding of the whole human person in which the values of
intellect, will, conscience and fraternity are preeminent. These values are all
rooted in God the Creator and have been wonderfully restored and elevated in
The family is, as it were, the primary mother and nurse of this education.
There, the children, in an atmosphere of love, more easily learn the correct
order of things, while proper forms of human culture impress themselves in an
almost unconscious manner upon the mind of the developing adolescent.
Opportunities for the same education are to be found also in the societies of
today, due especially to the increased circulation of books and to the new means
of cultural and social communication which can foster a universal culture. With
the more or less generalized reduction of working hours, the leisure time of
most men has increased. May this leisure be used properly to relax, to fortify
the health of soul and body through spontaneous study and activity, through
tourism which refines man's character and enriches him with understanding of
others, through sports activity which helps to preserve equilibrium of spirit
even in the community, and to establish fraternal relations among men of all
conditions, nations and races. Let Christians cooperate so that the cultural
manifestations and collective activity characteristic of our time may be imbued
with a human and a Christian spirit.
All these leisure activities however are not able to bring man to a full
cultural development unless there is at the same time a profound inquiry into
the meaning of culture and science for the human person.
62. Although the Church has contributed much to the development of culture,
experience shows that, for circumstantial reasons, it is sometimes difficult to
harmonize culture with Christian teaching. These difficulties do not necessarily
harm the life of faith, rather they can stimulate the mind to a deeper and more
accurate understanding of the faith. The recent studies and findings of science,
history and philosophy raise new questions which effect life and which demand
new theological investigations. Furthermore, theologians, within the
requirements and methods proper to theology, are invited to seek continually for
more suitable ways of communicating doctrine to the men of their times; for the
deposit of Faith or the truths are one thing and the manner in which they are
enunciated, in the same meaning and understanding, is another.(12) In pastoral
care, sufficient use must be made not only of theological principles, but also
of the findings of the secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology,
so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.
Literature and the arts are also, in their own way, of great importance to
the life of the Church. They strive to make known the proper nature of man, his
problems and his experiences in trying to know and perfect both himself and the
world. They have much to do with revealing mans place in history and in the
world; with illustrating the miseries and joys, the needs and strengths of man
and with foreshadowing a better life for him. Thus they are able to elevate human
life, expressed in multifold forms according to various times and regions.
Efforts must be made so that those who foster these arts feel that the Church
recognizes their activity and so that, enjoying orderly liberty, they may
initiate more friendly relations with the Christian community. The Church
acknowledges also new forms of art which are adapted to our age and are in
keeping with the characteristics of various nations and regions. They may be
brought into the sanctuary since they raise the mind to God, once the manner of
expression is adapted and they are conformed to liturgical requirements.(13)
Thus the knowledge of God is better manifested and the preaching of the
Gospel becomes clearer to human intelligence and shows itself to be relevant to
man's actual conditions of life.
May the faithful, therefore, live in very close union with the other men of
their time and may they strive to understand perfectly their way of thinking and
judging, as expressed in their culture. Let them blend new sciences and theories
and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and
the teaching of Christian doctrine, so that their religious culture and morality
may keep pace with scientific knowledge and with the constantly progressing
technology. Thus they will be able to interpret and evaluate all things in a
truly Christian spirit.
Let those who teach theology in seminaries and universities strive to
collaborate with men versed in the other sciences through a sharing of their
resources and points of view. Theological inquiry should pursue a profound
understanding of revealed truth; at the same time it should not neglect close
contact with its own time that it may be able to help these men skilled in
various disciplines to attain to a better understanding of the faith. This
common effort will greatly aid the formation of priests, who will be able to
present to our contemporaries the doctrine of the Church concerning God, man and
the world, in a manner more adapted to them so that they may receive it more
willingly.(14) Furthermore, it is to be hoped that many of the laity will
receive a sufficient formation in the sacred sciences and that some will
dedicate themselves professionally to these studies, developing and deepening
them by their own labors. In order that they may fulfill their function, let it
be recognized that all the faithful, whether clerics or laity, possess a lawful
freedom of inquiry, freedom of thought and of expressing their mind with
humility and fortitude in those matters on which they enjoy competence.(16)
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL LIFE
63. In the economic and social realms, too, the dignity and complete vocation
of the human person and the welfare of society as a whole are to be respected
and promoted. For man is the source, the center, and the purpose of all economic
and social life.
Like other areas of social life, the economy of today is marked by man's
increasing domination over nature, by closer and more intense relationships
between citizens, groups, and countries and their mutual dependence, and by the
increased intervention of the state. At the same time progress in the methods of
production and in the exchange of goods and services has made the economy an
instrument capable of better meeting the intensified needs of the human family.
Reasons for anxiety, however, are not lacking. Many people, especially in
economically advanced areas, seem, as it were, to be ruled by economics, so that
almost their entire personal and social life is permeated with a certain economic
way of thinking. Such is true both of nations that favor a collective economy
and of others. At the very time when the development of economic life could
mitigate social inequalities (provided that it be guided and coordinated in a
reasonable and human way), it is often made to embitter them; or, in some
places, it even results in a decline of the social status of the underprivileged
and in contempt for the poor. While an immense number of people still lack the
absolute necessities of life, some, even in less advanced areas, live in luxury
or squander wealth. Extravagance and wretchedness exist side by side. While a
few enjoy very great power of choice, the majority are deprived of almost all
possibility of acting on their own initiative and responsibility, and often
subsist in living and working conditions unworthy of the human person.
A similar lack of economic and social balance is to be noticed between
agriculture, industry, and the services, and also between different parts of one
and the same country. The contrast between the economically more advanced
countries and other countries is becoming more serious day by day, and the very
peace of the world can be jeopardized thereby.
Our contemporaries are coming to feel these inequalities with an ever sharper
awareness, since they are thoroughly convinced that the ampler technical and
economic possibilities which the world of today enjoys can and should correct
this unhappy state of affairs. Hence, many reforms in the socioeconomic realm
and a change of mentality and attitude are required of all. For this reason the
Church down through the centuries and in the light of the Gospel has worked out
the principles of justice and equity demanded by right reason both for
individual and social life and for international life, and she has proclaimed
them especially in recent times. This sacred council intends to strengthen these
principles according to the circumstances of this age and to set forth certain
guidelines, especially with regard to the requirements of economic
64. Today more than ever before attention is rightly given to the increase of
the production of agricultural and industrial goods and of the rendering of
services, for the purpose of making provision for the growth of population and
of satisfying the increasing desires of the human race. Therefore, technical
progress, an inventive spirit, an eagerness to create and to expand enterprises,
the application of methods of production, and the strenuous efforts of all who
engage in production—in a word, all the elements making for such
development—must be promoted. The fundamental finality of this production is not
the mere increase of products nor profit or control but rather the service of
man, and indeed of the whole man with regard for the full range of his material
needs and the demands of his intellectual, moral, spiritual, and religious life;
this applies to every man whatsoever and to every group of men, of every race
and of every part of the world. Consequently, economic activity is to be carried
on according to its own methods and laws within the limits of the moral order,"
so that God's plan for mankind may be realized.(3)
65. Economic development must remain under man's determination and must not
be left to the judgment of a few men or groups possessing too much economic
power or of the political community alone or of certain more powerful nations.
It is necessary, on the contrary, that at every level the largest possible
number of people and, when it is a question of international relations, all
nations have an active share in directing that development. There is need as
well of the coordination and fitting and harmonious combination of the
spontaneous efforts of individuals and of free groups with the undertakings of
Growth is not to be left solely to a kind of mechanical course of the
economic activity of individuals, nor to the authority of government. For this
reason, doctrines which obstruct the necessary reforms under the guise of a
false liberty, and those which subordinate the basic rights of individual
persons and groups to the collective organization of production must be shown to
Citizens, on the other hand, should remember that it is their right and duty,
which is also to be recognized by the civil authority, to contribute to the true
progress of their own community according to their ability. Especially in
underdeveloped areas, where all resources must urgently be employed, those who
hold back their unproductive resources or who deprive their community of the
material or spiritual aid that it needs—saving the personal right of
migration—gravely endanger the common good.
66. To satisfy the demands of justice and equity, strenuous efforts must be
made, without disregarding the rights of persons or the natural qualities of
each country, to remove as quickly as possible the immense economic
inequalities, which now exist and in many cases are growing and which are
connected with individual and social discrimination. Likewise, in many areas, in
view of the special difficulties of agriculture relative to the raising and
selling of produce, country people must be helped both to increase and to market
what they produce, and to introduce the necessary development and renewal and
also obtain a fair income. Otherwise, as too often happens, they will remain in
the condition of lower-class citizens. Let farmers themselves, especially young
ones, apply themselves to perfecting their professional skill, for without it,
there can be no agricultural advance.(5)
Justice and equity likewise require that the mobility, which is necessary in
a developing economy, be regulated in such a way as to keep the life of
individuals and their families from becoming insecure and precarious. When
workers come from another country or district and contribute to the economic
advancement of a nation or region by their labor, all discrimination as regards
wages and working conditions must be carefully avoided. All the people,
moreover, above all the public authorities, must treat them not as mere tools of
production but as persons, and must help them to bring their families to live
with them and to provide themselves with a decent dwelling; they must also see
to it that these workers are incorporated into the social life of the country or
region that receives them. Employment opportunities, however, should be created
in their own areas as far as possible.
In economic affairs which today are subject to change, as in the new forms of
industrial society in which automation, for example, is advancing, care must be
taken that sufficient and suitable work and the possibility of the appropriate
technical and professional formation are furnished. The livelihood and the human
dignity especially of those who are in very difficult conditions because of
illness or old age must be guaranteed.
Certain Principles Governing Socio-Economic Life as a Whole
67. Human labor which is expended in the production and exchange of goods or
in the performance of economic services is superior to the other elements of
economic life, for the latter have only the nature of tools.
This labor, whether it is engaged in independently or hired by someone else,
comes immediately from the person, who as it were stamps the things of nature
with his seal and subdues them to his will. By his labor a man ordinarily
supports himself and his family, is joined to his fellow men and serves them,
and can exercise genuine charity and be a partner in the work of bringing divine
creation to perfection. Indeed, we hold that through labor offered to God man is
associated with the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, Who conferred an eminent
dignity on labor when at Nazareth He worked with His own hands. From this there
follows for every man the duty of working faithfully and also the right to work.
It is the duty of society, moreover, according to the circumstances prevailing
in it, and in keeping with its role, to help the citizens to find sufficient
employment. Finally, remuneration for labor is to be such that man may be
furnished the means to cultivate worthily his own material, social, cultural,
and spiritual life and that of his dependents, in view of the function and
productiveness of each one, the conditions of the factory or workshop, and the
Since economic activity for the most part implies the associated work of
human beings, any way of organizing and directing it which may be detrimental to
any working men and women would be wrong and inhuman. It happens too often,
however, even in our days, that workers are reduced to the level of being slaves
to their own work. This is by no means justified by the so-called economic laws.
The entire process of productive work, therefore, must be adapted to the needs
of the person and to his way of life, above all to his domestic life, especially
in respect to mothers of families, always with due regard for sex and age. The
opportunity, moreover, should be granted to workers to unfold their own
abilities and personality through the performance of their work. Applying their
time and strength to their employment with a due sense of responsibility, they
should also all enjoy sufficient rest and leisure to cultivate their familial,
cultural, social and religious life. They should also have the opportunity
freely to develop the energies and potentialities which perhaps they cannot
bring to much fruition in their professional work.
68. In economic enterprises it is persons who are joined together, that is,
free and independent human beings created to the image of God. Therefore, with
attention to the functions of each—owners or employers, management or labor—and
without doing harm to the necessary unity of management, the active sharing of
all in the administration and profits of these enterprises in ways to be
properly determined is to be promoted.(7) Since more often, however, decisions
concerning economic and social conditions, on which the future lot of the
workers and of their children depends, are made not within the business itself
but by institutions on a higher level, the workers themselves should have a
share also in determining these conditions—in person or through freely elected
Among the basic rights of the human person is to be numbered the right of
freely founding unions for working people. These should be able truly to
represent them and to contribute to the organizing of economic life in the right
way. Included is the right of freely taking part in the activity of these unions
without risk of reprisal. Through this orderly participation joined to
progressive economic and social formation, all will grow day by day in the
awareness of their own function and responsibility, and thus they will be
brought to feel that they are comrades in the whole task of economic development
and in the attainment of the universal common good according to their capacities
When, however, socio-economic disputes arise, efforts must be made to come to
a peaceful settlement. Although recourse must always be had first to a sincere
dialogue between the parties, a strike, nevertheless, can remain even in
present-day circumstances a necessary, though ultimate, aid for the defense of
the workers' own rights and the fulfillment of their just desires. As soon as
possible, however, ways should be sought to resume negotiation and the
discussion of reconciliation.
69. God intended the earth with everything contained in it for the use of all
human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the
company of charity, created goods should be in abundance for all in like
manner.(8) Whatever the forms of property may be, as adapted to the legitimate
institutions of peoples, according to diverse and changeable circumstances,
attention must always be paid to this universal destination of earthly goods. In
using them, therefore, man should regard the external things that he
legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that
they should be able to benefit not only him but also others.(9) On the other
hand, the right of having a share of earthly goods sufficient for oneself and
one's family belongs to everyone. The Fathers and Doctors of the Church held
this opinion, teaching that men are obliged to come to the relief of the poor
and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods.(10) If one is in extreme
necessity, he has the right to procure for himself what he needs out of the
riches of others.(11) Since there are so many people prostrate with hunger in
the world, this sacred council urges all, both individuals and governments, to
remember the aphorism of the Fathers, "Feed the man dying of hunger, because if
you have not fed him, you have killed him,"(12) and really to share and employ
their earthly goods, according to the ability of each, especially by supporting
individuals or peoples with the aid by which they may be able to help and
In economically less advanced societies the common destination of earthly
goods is partly satisfied by means of the customs and traditions proper to the
community, by which the absolutely necessary things are furnished to each
member. An effort must be made, however, to avoid regarding certain customs as
altogether unchangeable, if they no longer answer the new needs of this age. On
the other hand, imprudent action should not be taken against respectable customs
which, provided they are suitably adapted to present-day circumstances, do not
cease to be very useful. Similarly, in highly developed nations a body of social
institutions dealing with protection and security can, for its own part, bring
to reality the common destination of earthly goods. Family and social services,
especially those that provide for culture and education, should be further
promoted. When all these things are being organized, vigilance is necessary to
present the citizens from being led into a certain inactivity vis-a-vis society
or from rejecting the burden of taking up office or from refusing to serve.
70. Investments, for their part, must be directed toward procuring employment
and sufficient income for the people both now and in the future. Whoever makes
decisions concerning these investments and the planning of the economy—whether
they be individuals or groups of public authorities—are bound to keep these
objectives in mind and to recognize their serious obligation of watching, on the
one hand, that provision be made for the necessities required for a decent life
both of individuals and of the whole community and, on the other, of looking out
for the future and of establishing a right balance between the needs of
present-day consumption, both individual and collective, and the demands of
investing for the generation to come. They should also always bear in mind the
urgent needs of underdeveloped countries or regions. In monetary matters they
should beware of hurting the welfare of their own country or of other countries.
Care should also be taken lest the economically weak countries unjustly suffer
any loss from a change in the value of money.
71. Since property and other forms of private ownership of external goods
contribute to the expression of the personality, and since, moreover, they
furnish one an occasion to exercise his function in society and in the economy,
it is very important that the access of both individuals and communities to some
ownership of external goods be fostered
Private property or some ownership of external goods confers on everyone a
sphere wholly necessary for the autonomy of the person and the family, and it
should be regarded as an extension of human freedom. Lastly, since it adds
incentives for carrying on one's function and charge, it constitutes one of the
conditions for civil liberties.(13)
The forms of such ownership or property are varied today and are becoming
increasingly diversified. They all remain, however, a cause of security not to
be underestimated, in spite of social funds, rights, and services provided by
society. This is true not only of material property but also of immaterial
things such as professional capacities.
The right of private ownership, however, is not opposed to the right inherent
in various forms of public property. Goods can be transferred to the public
domain only by the competent authority, according to the demands and within the
limits of the common good, and with fair compensation. Furthermore, it is the
right of public authority to prevent anyone from abusing his private property to
the detriment of the common good.(14)
By its very nature private property has a social quality which is based on
the law of the common destination of earthly goods.(15) If this social quality
is overlooked, property often becomes an occasion of passionate desires for
wealth and serious disturbances, so that a pretext is given to the attackers for
calling the right itself into question.
In many underdeveloped regions there are large or even extensive rural
estates which are only slightly cultivated or lie completely idle for the sake
of profit, while the majority of the people either are without land or have only
very small fields, and, on the other hand, it is evidently urgent to increase
the productivity of the fields. Not infrequently those who are hired to work for
the landowners or who till a portion of the land as tenants receive a wage or
income unworthy of a human being, lack decent housing and are exploited by
middlemen. Deprived of all security, they live under such personal servitude
that almost every opportunity of acting on their own initiative and
responsibility is denied to them and all advancement in human culture and all
sharing in social and political life is forbidden to them. According to the
different cases, therefore, reforms are necessary: that income may grow, working
conditions should be improved, security in employment increased, and an
incentive to working on one's own initiative given. Indeed, insufficiently
cultivated estates should be distributed to those who can make these lands
fruitful; in this case, the necessary things and means, especially educational
aids and the right facilities for cooperative organization, must be supplied.
Whenever, nevertheless, the common good requires expropriation, compensation
must be reckoned in equity after all the circumstances have been weighed.
72. Christians who take an active part in present-day socio-economic
development and fight for justice and charity should be convinced that they can
make a great contribution to the prosperity of mankind and to the peace of the
world. In these activities let them, either as individuals or as members of
groups, give a shining example. Having acquired the absolutely necessary skill
and experience, they should observe the right order in their earthly activities
in faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel. Thus their whole life, both individual
and social, will be permeated with the spirit of the beatitudes, notably with a
spirit of poverty.
Whoever in obedience to Christ seeks first the Kingdom of God, takes
therefrom a stronger and purer love for helping all his brethren and for
perfecting the work of justice under the inspiration of charity.(16)
THE LIFE OF THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY
73. In our day, profound changes are apparent also in the structure and
institutions of peoples. These result from their cultural, economic and social
evolution. Such changes have a great influence on the life of the political
community, especially regarding the rights and duties of all in the exercise of
civil freedom and in the attainment of the common good, and in organizing the
relations of citizens among themselves and with respect to public authority.
The present keener sense of human dignity has given rise in many parts of the
world to attempts to bring about a politico-juridical order which will give
better protection to the rights of the person in public life. These include the
right freely to meet and form associations, the right to express one's own
opinion and to profess one's religion both publicly and privately. The
protection of the rights of a person is indeed a necessary condition so that
citizens, individually or collectively, can take an active part in the life and
government of the state.
Along with cultural, economic and social development, there is a growing
desire among many people to play a greater part in organizing the life of the
political community. In the conscience of many arises an increasing concern that
the rights of minorities be recognized, without any neglect for their duties
toward the political community. In addition, there is a steadily growing respect
for men of other opinions or other religions. At the same time, there is wider
cooperation to guarantee the actual exercise of personal rights to all citizens,
and not only to a few privileged individuals.
However, those political systems, prevailing in some parts of the world are
to be reproved which hamper civic or religious freedom, victimize large numbers
through avarice and political crimes, and divert the exercise of authority from
the service of the common good to the interests of one or another faction or of
the rulers themselves.
There is no better way to establish political life on a truly human basis
than by fostering an inward sense of justice and kindliness, and of service to
the common good, and by strengthening basic convictions as to the true nature of
the political community and the aim, right exercise, and sphere of action of
74. Men, families and the various groups which make up the civil community
are aware that they cannot achieve a truly human life by their own unaided
efforts. They see the need for a wider community, within which each one makes
his specific contribution every day toward an ever broader realization of the
common good.(1) For this purpose they set up a political community according to
various forms. The political community exists, consequently, for the sake of the
common good, in which it finds its full justification and significance, and the
source of its inherent legitimacy. Indeed, the common good embraces the sum of
those conditions of the social life whereby men, families and associations more
adequately and readily may attain their own perfection.(2)
Yet the people who come together in the political community are many and
diverse, and they have every right to prefer divergent solutions. If the
political community is not to be torn apart while everyone follows his own
opinion, there must be an authority to direct the energies of all citizens
toward the common good, not in a mechanical or despotic fashion, but by acting
above all as a moral force which appeals to each one's freedom and sense of
It is clear, therefore, that the political community and public authority are
founded on human nature and hence belong to the order designed by God, even
though the choice of a political regime and the appointment of rulers are left
to the free will of citizens.(3)
It follows also that political authority, both in the community as such and
in the representative bodies of the state, must always be exercised within the
limits of the moral order and directed toward the common good—with a dynamic
concept of that good—according to the juridical order legitimately established
or due to be established. When authority is so exercised, citizens are bound in
conscience to obey.(4) Accordingly, the responsibility, dignity and importance
of leaders are indeed clear.
But where citizens are oppressed by a public authority overstepping its
competence, they should not protest against those things which are objectively
required for the common good; but it is legitimate for them to defend their own
rights and the rights of their fellow citizens against the abuse of this
authority, while keeping within those limits drawn by the natural law and the
According to the character of different peoples and their historic
development, the political community can, however, adopt a variety of concrete
solutions in its structures and the organization of public authority. For the
benefit of the whole human family, these solutions must always contribute to the
formation of a type of man who will be cultivated, peace-loving and
well-disposed towards all his fellow men.
75. It is in full conformity with human nature that there should be
juridico-political structures providing all citizens in an ever better fashion
and without any discrimination the practical possibility of freely and actively
taking part in the establishment of the juridical foundations of the political
community and in the direction of public affairs, in fixing the terms of
reference of the various public bodies and in the election of political
leaders.(5) All citizens, therefore, should be mindful of the right and also the
duty to use their free vote to further the common good. The Church praises and
esteems the work of those who for the good of men devote themselves to the
service of the state and take on the burdens of this office.
If the citizens' responsible cooperation is to produce the good results which
may be expected in the normal course of political life, there must be a statute
of positive law providing for a suitable division of the functions and bodies of
authority and an efficient and independent system for the protection of rights.
The rights of all persons, families and groups, and their practical application,
must be recognized, respected and furthered, together with the duties binding on
all citizen.(6) Among the latter, it will be well to recall the duty of
rendering the political community such material and personal service as are
required by the common good. Rulers must be careful not to hamper the
development of family, social or cultural groups, nor that of intermediate
bodies or organizations, and not to deprive them of opportunities for legitimate
and constructive activity; they should willingly seek rather to promote the
orderly pursuit of such activity. Citizens, for their part, either individually
or collectively, must be careful not to attribute excessive power to public
authority, not to make exaggerated and untimely demands upon it in their own
interests, lessening in this way the responsible role of persons, families and
The complex circumstances of our day make it necessary for public authority
to intervene more often in social, economic and cultural matters in order to
bring about favorable conditions which will give more effective help to citizens
and groups in their free pursuit of man's total well-being. The relations,
however, between socialization and the autonomy and development of the person
can be understood in different ways according to various regions and the
evolution of peoples. But when the exercise of rights is restricted temporarily
for the common good, freedom should be restored immediately upon change of
circumstances. Moreover, it is inhuman for public authority to fall back on
dictatorial systems or totalitarian methods which violate the rights of the
person or social groups.
Citizens must cultivate a generous and loyal spirit of patriotism, but
without being narrow-minded. This means that they will always direct their
attention to the good of the whole human family, united by the different ties
which bind together races, people and nations.
All Christians must be aware of their own specific vocation within the
political community. It is for them to give an example by their sense of
responsibility and their service of the common good. In this way they are to
demonstrate concretely how authority can be compatible with freedom, personal
initiative with the solidarity of the whole social organism, and the advantages
of unity with fruitful diversity. They must recognize the legitimacy of
different opinions with regard to temporal solutions, and respect citizens, who,
even as a group, defend their points of view by honest methods. Political
parties, for their part, must promote those things which in their judgement are
required for the common good; it is never allowable to give their interests
priority over the common good.
Great care must be taken about civic and political formation, which is of the
utmost necessity today for the population as a whole, and especially for youth,
so that all citizens can play their part in the life of the political community.
Those who are suited or can become suited should prepare themselves for the
difficult, but at the same time, the very noble art of politics,(8) and should
seek to practice this art without regard for their own interests or for material
advantages. With integrity and wisdom, they must take action against any form of
injustice and tyranny, against arbitrary domination by an individual or a
political party and any intolerance. They should dedicate themselves to the
service of all with sincerity and fairness, indeed, with the charity and
fortitude demanded by political life.
76. It is very important, especially where a pluralistic society prevails,
that there be a correct notion of the relationship between the political
community and the Church, and a clear distinction between the tasks which
Christians undertake, individually or as a group, on their own responsibility as
citizens guided by the dictates of a Christian conscience, and the activities
which, in union with their pastors, they carry out in the name of the Church.
The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified in any
way with the political community nor bound to any political system. She is at
once a sign and a safeguard of the transcendent character of the human person.
The Church and the political community in their own fields are autonomous and
independent from each other. Yet both, under different titles, are devoted to
the personal and social vocation of the same men. The more that both foster
sounder cooperation between themselves with due consideration for the
circumstances of time and place, the more effective will their service be
exercised for the good of all. For man's horizons are not limited only to the
temporal order; while living in the context of human history, he preserves
intact his eternal vocation. The Church, for her part, founded on the love of
the Redeemer, contributes toward the reign of justice and charity within the
borders of a nation and between nations. By preaching the truths of the Gospel,
and bringing to bear on all fields of human endeavor the light of her doctrine
and of a Christian witness, she respects and fosters the political freedom and
responsibility of citizens.
The Apostles, their successors and those who cooperate with them, are sent to
announce to mankind Christ, the Savior. Their apostolate is based on the power
of God, Who very often shows forth the strength of the Gospel on the weakness of
its witnesses. All those dedicated to the ministry of God's Word must use the
ways and means proper to the Gospel which in a great many respects differ from
the means proper to the earthly city.
There are, indeed, close links between earthly things and those elements of
man's condition which transcend the world. The Church herself makes use of
temporal things insofar as her own mission requires it. She, for her part, does
not place her trust in the privileges offered by civil authority. She will even
give up the exercise of certain rights which have been legitimately acquired, if
it becomes clear that their use will cast doubt on the sincerity of her witness
or that new ways of life demand new methods. It is only right, however, that at
all times and in all places, the Church should have true freedom to preach the
faith, to teach her social doctrine, to exercise her role freely among men, and
also to pass moral judgment in those matters which regard public order when the
fundamental rights of a person or the salvation of souls require it. In this,
she should make use of all the means—but only those—which accord with the Gospel
and which correspond to the general good according to the diversity of times and
While faithfully adhering to the Gospel and fulfilling her mission to the
world, the Church, whose duty it is to foster and elevate(9) all that is found
to be true, good and beautiful in the human community, strengthens peace among
men for the glory of God.(10)
THE FOSTERING OF PEACE AND THE PROMOTION OF A COMMUNITY OF NATIONS
77. In our generation when men continue to be afflicted by acute hardships
and anxieties arising from the ravages of war or the threat of it, the whole
human family faces an hour of supreme crisis in its advance toward maturity.
Moving gradually together and everywhere more conscious already of its unity,
this family cannot accomplish its task of constructing for all men everywhere a
world more genuinely human unless each person devotes himself to the cause of
peace with renewed vigor. Thus it happens that the Gospel message, which is in
harmony with the loftier strivings and aspirations of the human race, takes on a
new luster in our day as it declares that the artisans of peace are blessed
"because they will be called the sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).
Consequently, as it points out the authentic and noble meaning of peace and
condemns the frightfulness of war, the Council wishes passionately to summon
Christians to cooperate, under the help of Christ the author of peace, with all
men in securing among themselves a peace based on justice and love and in
setting up the instruments of peace.
78. Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to
the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about
by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of
justice. Peace results from that order structured into human society by its
divine Founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice.
The common good of humanity finds its ultimate meaning in the eternal law. But
since the concrete demands of this common good are constantly changing as time
goes on, peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up
ceaselessly. Moreover, since the human will is unsteady and wounded by sin, the
achievement of peace requires a constant mastering of passions and the vigilance
of lawful authority.
But this is not enough. This peace on earth cannot be obtained unless
personal well-being is safeguarded and men freely and trustingly share with one
another the riches of their inner spirits and their talents. A firm
determination to respect other men and peoples and their dignity, as well as the
studied practice of brotherhood are absolutely necessary for the establishment
of peace. Hence peace is likewise the fruit of love, which goes beyond what
justice can provide.
That earthly peace which arises from love of neighbor symbolizes and results
from the peace of Christ which radiates from God the Father. For by the cross
the incarnate Son, the prince of peace reconciled all men with God. By thus
restoring all men to the unity of one people and one body, He slew hatred in His
own flesh; and, after being lifted on high by His resurrection, He poured forth
the spirit of love into the hearts of men.
For this reason, all Christians are urgently summoned to do in love what the
truth requires, and to join with all true peacemakers in pleading for peace and
bringing it about.
Motivated by this same spirit, we cannot fail to praise those who renounce
the use of violence in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods
of defense which are otherwise available to weaker parties too, provided this
can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the
Insofar as men are sinful, the threat of war hangs over them, and hang over
them it will until the return of Christ. But insofar as men vanquish sin by a
union of love, they will vanquish violence as well and make these words come
true: "They shall turn their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into
sickles. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn
war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).
The Avoidance of War
79. Even though recent wars have wrought physical and moral havoc on our
world, the devastation of battle still goes on day by day in some part of the
world. Indeed, now that every kind of weapon produced by modern science is used
in war, the fierce character of warfare threatens to lead the combatants to a
savagery far surpassing that of the past. Furthermore, the complexity of the
modern world and the intricacy of international relations allow guerrilla
warfare to be drawn out by new methods of deceit and subversion. In many causes
the use of terrorism is regarded as a new way to wage war.
Contemplating this melancholy state of humanity, the council wishes, above
all things else, to recall the permanent binding force of universal natural law
and its all-embracing principles. Man's conscience itself gives ever more
emphatic voice to these principles. Therefore, actions which deliberately
conflict with these same principles, as well as orders commanding such actions
are criminal, and blind obedience cannot excuse those who yield to them. The
most infamous among these are actions designed for the methodical extermination
of an entire people, nation or ethnic minority. Such actions must be vehemently
condemned as horrendous crimes. The courage of those who fearlessly and openly
resist those who issue such commands merits supreme commendation.
On the subject of war, quite a large number of nations have subscribed to
international agreements aimed at making military activity and its consequences
less inhuman. Their stipulations deal with such matters as the treatment of
wounded soldiers and prisoners. Agreements of this sort must be honored. Indeed
they should be improved upon so that the frightfulness of war can be better and
more workably held in check. All men, especially government officials and
experts in these matters, are bound to do everything they can to effect these
improvements. Moreover, it seems right that laws make humane provisions for the
case of those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms, provided
however, that they agree to serve the human community in some other way.
Certainly, war has not been rooted out of human affairs. As long as the
danger of war remains and there is no competent and sufficiently powerful
authority at the international level, governments cannot be denied the right to
legitimate defense once every means of peaceful settlement has been exhausted.
State authorities and others who share public responsibility have the duty to
conduct such grave matters soberly and to protect the welfare of the people
entrusted to their care. But it is one thing to undertake military action for
the just defense of the people, and something else again to seek the subjugation
of other nations. Nor, by the same token, does the mere fact that war has
unhappily begun mean that all is fair between the warring parties.
Those too who devote themselves to the military service of their country
should regard themselves as the agents of security and freedom of peoples. As
long as they fulfill this role properly, they are making a genuine contribution
to the establishment of peace.
80. The horror and perversity of war is immensely magnified by the addition
of scientific weapons. For acts of war involving these weapons can inflict
massive and indiscriminate destruction, thus going far beyond the bounds of
legitimate defense. Indeed, if the kind of instruments which can now be found in
the armories of the great nations were to be employed to their fullest, an
almost total and altogether reciprocal slaughter of each side by the other would
follow, not to mention the widespread devastation that would take place in the
world and the deadly after effects that would be spawned by the use of weapons
of this kind.
All these considerations compel us to undertake an evaluation of war with an
entirely new attitude.(1) The men of our time must realize that they will have
to give a somber reckoning of their deeds of war for the course of the future
will depend greatly on the decisions they make today.
With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the
condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes,(2) and issues the
Any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities of
extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and man
himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.
The unique hazard of modern warfare consists in this: it provides those who
possess modern scientific weapons with a kind of occasion for perpetrating just
such abominations; moreover, through a certain inexorable chain of events, it
can catapult men into the most atrocious decisions. That such may never truly
happen in the future, the bishops of the whole world gathered together, beg all
men, especially government officials and military leaders, to give unremitting
thought to their gigantic responsibility before God and the entire human race.
81. To be sure, scientific weapons are not amassed solely for use in war.
Since the defensive strength of any nation is considered to be dependent upon
its capacity for immediate retaliation, this accumulation of arms, which
increases each year, likewise serves, in a way heretofore unknown, as deterrent
to possible enemy attack. Many regard this procedure as the most effective way
by which peace of a sort can be maintained between nations at the present time.
Whatever be the facts about this method of deterrence, men should be
convinced that the arms race in which an already considerable number of
countries are engaged is not a safe way to preserve a steady peace, nor is the
so-called balance resulting from this race a sure and authentic peace. Rather
than being eliminated thereby, the causes of war are in danger of being
gradually aggravated. While extravagant sums are being spent for the furnishing
of ever new weapons, an adequate remedy cannot be provided for the multiple
miseries afflicting the whole modern world. Disagreements between nations are
not really and radically healed; on the contrary, they spread the infection to
other parts of the earth. New approaches based on reformed attitudes must be
taken to remove this trap and to emancipate the world from its crushing anxiety
through the restoration of genuine peace.
Therefore, we say it again: the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for
humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree. It is much
to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal
ruin whose path it is now making ready. Warned by the calamities which the human
race has made possible, let us make use of the interlude granted us from above
and for which we are thankful to become more conscious of our own responsibility
and to find means for resolving our disputes in a manner more worthy of man.
Divine Providence urgently demands of us that we free ourselves from the age-old
slavery of war. If we refuse to make this effort, we do not know where we will
be led by the evil road we have set upon.
It is our clear duty, therefore, to strain every muscle in working for the
time when all war can be completely outlawed by international consent. This goal
undoubtedly requires the establishment of some universal public authority
acknowledged as such by all and endowed with the power to safeguard on the
behalf of all, security, regard for justice, and respect for rights. But before
this hoped for authority can be set up, the highest existing international
centers must devote themselves vigorously to the pursuit of better means for
obtaining common security. Since peace must be born of mutual trust between
nations and not be imposed on them through a fear of the available weapons,
everyone must labor to put an end at last to the arms race, and to make a true
beginning of disarmament, not unilaterally indeed, but proceeding at an equal
pace according to agreement, and backed up by true and workable safeguards.(3)
82. In the meantime, efforts which have already been made and are still
underway to eliminate the danger of war are not to be underrated. On the
contrary, support should be given to the good will of the very many leaders who
work hard to do away with war, which they abominate. These men, although
burdened by the extremely weighty preoccupations of their high office, are
nonetheless moved by the very grave peacemaking task to which they are bound,
even if they cannot ignore the complexity of matters as they stand. We should
fervently ask God to give these men the strength to go forward perseveringly and
to follow through courageously on this work of building peace with vigor. It is
a work of supreme love for mankind. Today it certainly demands that they extend
their thoughts and their spirit beyond the confines of their own nation, that
they put aside national selfishness and ambition to dominate other nations, and
that they nourish a profound reverence for the whole of humanity, which is
already making its way so laboriously toward greater unity.
The problems of peace and of disarmament have already been the subject of
extensive, strenuous and constant examination. Together with international
meetings dealing with these problems, such studies should be regarded as the
first steps toward solving these serious questions, and should be promoted with
even greater urgency by way of yielding concrete results in the future.
Nevertheless, men should take heed not to entrust themselves only to the
efforts of some, while not caring about their own attitudes. For government
officials who must at one and the same time guarantee the good of their own
people and promote the universal good are very greatly dependent on public
opinion and feeling. It does them no good to work for peace as long as feelings
of hostility, contempt and distrust, as well as racial hatred and unbending
ideologies, continue to divide men and place them in opposing camps.
Consequently there is above all a pressing need for a renewed education of
attitudes and for new inspiration in public opinion. Those who are dedicated to
the work of education, particularly of the young, or who mold public opinion,
should consider it their most weighty task to instruct all in fresh sentiments
of peace. Indeed, we all need a change of heart as we regard the entire world
and those tasks which we can perform in unison for the betterment of our race.
But we should not let false hope deceive us. For unless enmities and hatred
are put away and firm, honest agreements concerning world peace are reached in
the future, humanity, which already is in the middle of a grave crisis, even
though it is endowed with remarkable knowledge, will perhaps be brought to that
dismal hour in which it will experience no peace other than the dreadful peace
of death. But, while we say this, the Church of Christ, present in the midst of
the anxiety of this age, does not cease to hope most firmly. She intends to
propose to our age over and over again, in season and out of season, this
apostolic message: "Behold, now is the acceptable time for a change of heart;
behold! now is the day of salvation."(4)
Setting Up An International Community
83. In order to build up peace above all the causes of discord among men,
especially injustice, which foment wars must be rooted out. Not a few of these
causes come from excessive economic inequalities and from putting off the steps
needed to remedy them. Other causes of discord, however, have their source in
the desire to dominate and in a contempt for persons. And, if we look for deeper
causes, we find them in human envy, distrust, pride, and other egotistical
passions. Man cannot bear so many ruptures in the harmony of things.
Consequently, the world is constantly beset by strife and violence between men,
even when no war is being waged. Besides, since these same evils are present in
the relations between various nations as well, in order to overcome or forestall
them and to keep violence once unleashed within limits it is absolutely
necessary for countries to cooperate more advantageously and more closely
together and to organize together international bodies and to work tirelessly
for the creation of organizations which will foster peace.
84. In view of the increasingly close ties of mutual dependence today between
all the inhabitants and peoples of the earth, the apt pursuit and efficacious
attainment of the universal common good now require of the community of nations
that it organize itself in a manner suited to its present responsibilities,
especially toward the many parts of the world which are still suffering from
To reach this goal, organizations of the international community, for their
part, must make provision for men's different needs, both in the fields of
social life—such as food supplies, health, education, labor and also in certain
special circumstances which can crop up here and there, e.g., the need to
promote the general improvement of developing countries, or to alleviate the
distressing conditions in which refugees dispersed throughout the world find
themselves, or also to assist migrants and their families.
Already existing international and regional organizations are certainly
well-deserving of the human race. These are the first efforts at laying the
foundations on an international level for a community of all men to work for the
solution to the serious problems of our times, to encourage progress everywhere,
and to obviate wars of whatever kind. In all of these activities the Church
takes joy in the spirit of true brotherhood flourishing between Christians and
non-Christians as it strives to make ever more strenuous efforts to relieve
85. The present solidarity of mankind also calls for a revival of greater
international cooperation in the economic field. Although nearly all peoples
have become autonomous, they are far from being free of every form of undue
dependence, and far from escaping all danger of serious internal difficulties.
The development of a nation depends on human and financial aids. The citizens
of each country must be prepared by education and professional training to
discharge the various tasks of economic and social life. But this in turn
requires the aid of foreign specialists who, when they give aid, will not act as
overlords, but as helpers and fellow-workers. Developing nations will not be
able to procure material assistance unless radical changes are made in the
established procedures of modern world commerce. Other aid should be provided as
well by advanced nations in the form of gifts, loans or financial investments.
Such help should be accorded with generosity and without greed on the one side,
and received with complete honesty on the other side.
If an authentic economic order is to be established on a world-wide basis, an
end will have to be put to profiteering, to national ambitions, to the appetite
for political supremacy, to militaristic calculations, and to machinations for
the sake of spreading and imposing ideologies.
86. The following norms seem useful for such cooperation:
a) Developing nations should take great pains to seek as the object for
progress to express and secure the total human fulfillment of their citizens.
They should bear in mind that progress arises and grows above all out of the
labor and genius of the nations themselves because it has to be based, not only
on foreign aid, but especially on the full utilization of their own resources,
and on the development of their own culture and traditions. Those who exert the
greatest influence on others should be outstanding in this respect.
b) On the other hand, it is a very important duty of the advanced nations to
help the developing nations in discharging their above-mentioned
responsibilities. They should therefore gladly carry out on their own home front
those spiritual and material readjustments that are required for the realization
of this universal cooperation.
Consequently, in business dealings with weaker and poorer nations, they
should be careful to respect their profit, for these countries need the income
they receive on the sale of their homemade products to support themselves.
c) It is the role of the international community to coordinate and promote
development, but in such a way that the resources earmarked for this purpose
will be allocated as effectively as possible, and with complete equity. It is
likewise this community's duty, with due regard for the principle of
subsidiarity, so to regulate economic relations throughout the world that these
will be carried out in accordance with the norms of justice.
Suitable organizations should be set up to foster and regulate international
business affairs, particularly with the underdeveloped countries, and to
compensate for losses resulting from an excessive inequality of power among the
various nations. This type of organization, in unison with technical cultural
and financial aid, should provide the help which developing nations need so that
they can advantageously pursue their own economic advancement.
d) In many cases there is an urgent need to revamp economic and social
structures. But one must guard against proposals of technical solutions that are
untimely. This is particularly true of those solutions providing man with
material conveniences, but nevertheless contrary to man's spiritual nature and
advancement. For "not by bread alone does man live, but by every word which
proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). Every sector of the family of man
carries within itself and in its best traditions some portion of the spiritual
treasure entrusted by God to humanity, even though many may not be aware of the
source from which it comes.
87. International cooperation is needed today especially for those peoples
who, besides facing so many other difficulties, likewise undergo pressures due
to a rapid increase in population. There is an urgent need to explore, with the
full and intense cooperation of all, and especially of the wealthier nations,
ways whereby the human necessities of food and a suitable education can be
furnished and shared with the entire human community. But some peoples could
greatly improve upon the conditions of their life if they would change over from
antiquated methods of farming to the new technical methods, applying them with
needed prudence according to their own circumstances. Their life would likewise
be improved by the establishment of a better social order and by a fairer system
for the distribution of land ownership.
Governments undoubtedly have rights and duties, within the limits of their
proper competency, regarding the population problem in their respective
countries, for instance, in the line of social and family life legislation, or
regarding the migration of country-dwellers to the cities, or with respect to
information concerning the condition and needs of the country. Since men today
are giving thought to this problem and are so greatly disturbed over it, it is
desirable in addition that Catholic specialists, especially in the universities,
skillfully pursue and develop studies and projects on all these matters.
But there are many today who maintain that the increase in world population,
or at least the population increase in some countries, must be radically curbed
by every means possible and by any kind of intervention on the part of public
authority. In view of this contention, the council urges everyone to guard
against solutions, whether publicly or privately supported, or at times even
imposed, which are contrary to the moral law. For in keeping with man's
inalienable right to marry and generate children, a decision concerning the
number of children they will have depends on the right judgment of the parents
and it cannot in any way be left to the judgment of public authority. But since
the judgment of the parents presupposes a rightly formed conscience, it is of
the utmost importance that the way be open for everyone to develop a correct and
genuinely human responsibility which respects the divine law and takes into
consideration the circumstances of the situation and the time. But sometimes
this requires an improvement in educational and social conditions, and, above
all, formation in religion or at least a complete moral training. Men should
discreetly be informed, furthermore, of scientific advances in exploring methods
whereby spouses can be helped in regulating the number of their children and
whose safeness has been well proven and whose harmony with the moral order has
88. Christians should cooperate willingly and wholeheartedly in establishing
an international order that includes a genuine respect for all freedoms and
amicable brotherhood between all. This is all the more pressing since the
greater part of the world is still suffering from so much poverty that it is as
if Christ Himself were crying out in these poor to beg the charity of the
disciples. Do not let men, then, be scandalized because some countries with a
majority of citizens who are counted as Christians have an abundance of wealth,
whereas others are deprived of the necessities of life and are tormented with
hunger, disease, and every kind of misery. The spirit of poverty and charity are
the glory and witness of the Church of Christ.
Those Christians are to be praised and supported, therefore, who volunteer
their services to help other men and nations. Indeed, it is the duty of the
whole People of God, following the word and example of the bishops, to alleviate
as far as they are able the sufferings of the modern age. They should do this
too, as was the ancient custom in the Church, out of the substance of their
goods, and not only out of what is superfluous.
The procedure of collecting and distributing aids, without being inflexible
and completely uniform, should nevertheless be carried on in an orderly fashion
in dioceses, nations, and throughout the entire world. Wherever it seems
convenient, this activity of Catholics should be carried on in unison with other
Christian brothers. For the spirit of charity does not forbid, but on the
contrary commands that charitable activity be carried out in a careful and
orderly manner. Therefore, it is essential for those who intend to dedicate
themselves to the services of the developing nations to be properly trained in
89. Since, in virtue of her mission received from God, the Church preaches
the Gospel to all men and dispenses the treasures of grace, she contributes to
the ensuring of peace everywhere on earth and to the placing of the fraternal
exchange between men on solid ground by imparting knowledge of the divine and
natural law. Therefore, to encourage and stimulate cooperation among men, the
Church must be clearly present in the midst of the community of nations both
through her official channels and through the full and sincere collaboration of
all Christians—a collaboration motivated solely by the desire to be of service
This will come about more effectively if the faithful themselves, conscious
of their responsibility as men and as Christians will exert their influence in
their own milieu to arouse a ready willingness to cooperate with the
international community. Special care must be given, in both religious and civil
education, to the formation of youth in this regard.
90. An outstanding form of international activity on the part of Christians
is found in the joint efforts which, both as individuals and in groups, they
contribute to institutes already established or to be established for the
encouragement of cooperation among nations. There are also various Catholic
associations on an international level which can contribute in many ways to the
building up of a peaceful and fraternal community of nations. These should be
strengthened by augmenting in them the number of well qualified collaborators,
by increasing needed resources, and by advantageously fortifying the
coordination of their energies. For today both effective action and the need for
dialogue demand joint projects. Moreover, such associations contribute much to
the development of a universal outlook—something certainly appropriate for
Catholics. They also help to form an awareness of genuine universal solidarity
Finally, it is very much to be desired that Catholics, in order to fulfill
their role properly in the international community, will seek to cooperate
actively and in a positive manner both with their separated brothers who
together with them profess the Gospel of charity and with all men thirsting for
The council, considering the immensity of the hardships which still afflict
the greater part of mankind today, regards it as most opportune that an organism
of the universal Church be set up in order that both the justice and love of
Christ toward the poor might be developed everywhere. The role of such an
organism would be to stimulate the Catholic community to promote progress in
needy regions and international social justice.
91. Drawn from the treasures of Church teaching, the proposals of this sacred
synod look to the assistance of every man of our time, whether he believes in
God, or does not explicitly recognize Him. If adopted, they will promote among
men a sharper insight into their full destiny, and thereby lead them to fashion
the world more to man's surpassing dignity, to search for a brotherhood which is
universal and more deeply rooted, and to meet the urgencies of our ages with a
gallant and unified effort born of love.
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.
92. By virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the
Gospel message, and to unify under one Spirit all men of whatever nation, race
or culture, the Church stands forth as a sign of that brotherhood which allows
honest dialogue and gives it vigor.
Such a mission requires in the first place that we foster within the Church
herself mutual esteem, reverence and harmony, through the full recognition of
lawful diversity. Thus all those who compose the one People of God, both pastors
and the general faithful, can engage in dialogue with ever abounding
fruitfulness. For the bonds which unite the faithful are mightier than anything
dividing them. Hence, let there be unity in what is necessary; freedom in what
is unsettled, and charity in any case.
Our hearts embrace also those brothers and communities not yet living with us
in full communion; to them we are linked nonetheless by our profession of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by the bond of charity. We do not
forget that the unity of Christians is today awaited and desired by many, too,
who do not believe in Christ; for the farther it advances toward truth and love
under the powerful impulse of the Holy Spirit, the more this unity will be a
harbinger of unity and peace for the world at large. Therefore, by common effort
and in ways which are today increasingly appropriate for seeking this splendid
goal effectively, let us take pains to pattern ourselves after the Gospel more
exactly every day, and thus work as brothers in rendering service to the human
family. For, in Christ Jesus this family is called to the family of the sons of
We think cordially too of all who acknowledge God, and who preserve in their
traditions precious elements of religion and humanity. We want frank
conversation to compel us all to receive the impulses of the Spirit faithfully
and to act on them energetically.
For our part, the desire for such dialogue, which can lead to truth through
love alone, excludes no one, though an appropriate measure of prudence must
undoubtedly be exercised. We include those who cultivate outstanding qualities
of the human spirit, but do not yet acknowledge the Source of these qualities.
We include those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways. Since
God the Father is the origin and purpose of all men, we are all called to be
brothers. Therefore, if we have been summoned to the same destiny, human and
divine, we can and we should work together without violence and deceit in order
to build up the world in genuine peace.
93. Mindful of the Lord's saying: "by this will all men know that you are my
disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35), Christians cannot
yearn for anything more ardently than to serve the men of the modern world with
mounting generosity and success. Therefore, by holding faithfully to the Gospel
and benefiting from its resources, by joining with every man who loves and
practices justice, Christians have shouldered a gigantic task for fulfillment in
this world, a task concerning which they must give a reckoning to Him who
will judge every man on the last of days.
Not everyone who cries, "Lord, Lord," will enter into the kingdom of heaven,
but those who do the Father's will by taking a strong grip on the work at hand.
Now, the Father wills that in all men we recognize Christ our brother and love
Him effectively, in word and in deed. By thus giving witness to the truth, we
will share with others the mystery of the heavenly Father's love. As a
consequence, men throughout the world will be aroused to a lively hope—the gift
of the Holy Spirit—that some day at last they will be caught up in peace and
utter happiness in that fatherland radiant with the glory of the Lord.
Now to Him who is able to accomplish all things in a measure far beyond what
we ask or conceive, in keeping with the power that is at work in us—to Him be
glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, down through all the ages of time
without end. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21).
1. The Pastoral Constitution "De Ecclesia in Mundo Huius Temporis" is made up
of two parts; yet it constitutes an organic unity. By way of explanation: the
constitution is called "pastoral" because, while resting on doctrinal
principles, it seeks to express the relation of the Church to the world and
modern mankind. The result is that, on the one hand, a pastoral slant is present
in the first part, and, on the other hand, a doctrinal slant is present in the
second part. In the first part, the Church develops her teaching on man, on the
world which is the enveloping context of man's existence, and on man's relations
to his fellow men. In part two, the Church gives closer consideration to various
aspects of modern life and human society; special consideration is given to
those questions and problems which, in this general area, seem to have a greater
urgency in our day. As a result in part two the subject matter which is viewed
in the light of doctrinal principles is made up of diverse elements. Some
elements have a permanent value; others, only a transitory one. Consequently,
the constitution must be interpreted according to the general norms of
theological interpretation. Interpreters must bear in mind—especially in part
two—the changeable circumstances which the subject matter, by its very nature,
2. Cf. John 18:37; Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45.
1. Cf. Rom. 7:14 ff.
2. Cf. 2 Cor. 5:15.
3. Cf. Acts 4:12.
4. Cf. Heb. 13:8.
5. Cf. Col. 1:15.
1. Cf. Gen. 1:26, Wis. 2:23.
2. Cf. Sir. 17:3-10.
3. Cf. Rom. 1:21-25.
4. Cf. John 8:34.
5. Cf. Dan. 3:57-90.
6. Cf. 1 Cor. 6:13-20.
7. Cf. 1 Kings 16:7; Jer. 17:10.
8. Cf. Sir. 17:7-8.
9. Cf. Rom. 2:15-16.
10. Cf. Pius XII, Radio address on the correct formation of a Christian
conscience in the young, March 23, 1952: AAS (1952), p. 271.
11. Cf. Matt. 22:37-40; Gal. 5:14.
12. Cf. Sir. 15:14.
13 Cf. 2 Cor. 5:10.
14 Cf. Wis. 1:13; 2:23-24; Rom. 5:21; 6:23; Jas. 1:15.
15. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:56-57.
16. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Divini Redemptoris, March 19, 1937: AAS 29
(1937), pp. 65-106; Pius XII, encyclical letter
Ad Apostolorum Principis, June
29, 1958: AAS 50 (1958) pp. 601-614; John XXIII, encyclical letter
Magistra May 15, 1961: AAS 53 (1961), pp. 451-453; Paul VI,
Suam, Aug. 6, 1964: AAS 56 (1964), pp. 651-653.
17. Cf. Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter
I, n. 8: AAS 57 (1965), p. 12.
18 Cf. Phil. 1:27.
19. St. Augustine, Confessions I, 1: PL 32, 661.
20. Cf. Rom. 5: 14. Cf. Tertullian, De carnis resurrectione 6: "The shape
that the slime of the earth was given was intended with a view to Christ, the
future man.": P. 2, 282; CSEL 47, p. 33, 1. 12-13.
21. Cf. 2 Cor. 4:4.
22. Cf. Second Council of Constantinople, canon 7: "The divine Word was not
changed into a human nature, nor was a human nature absorbed by the Word."
Denzinger 219 (428); Cf. also Third Council of Constantinople: "For just as His
most holy and immaculate human nature, though deified, was not destroyed
(theotheisa ouk anerethe), but rather remained in its proper state and mode of
being": Denzinger 291 (556); Cf. Council of Chalcedon:" to be acknowledged in
two natures, without confusion change, division, or separation." Denzinger 148
23. Cf. Third Council of Constantinople: "and so His human will, though
deified, is not destroyed": Denzinger 291 (556).
24. Cf. Heb. 4:15.
25. Cf. 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:20-22.
26. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:21; Matt. 16:24; Luke 14:27.
27. Cf. Rom. 8:29; Col. 3:10-14.
28. Cf. Rom. 8:1-11.
29. Cf. 2 Cor. 4:14.
30. Cf. Phil. 3:19; Rom. 8:17.
31. Cf. Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter
2, n. 16: AAS 57 (1965), p. 20.
32. Cf. Rom. 8:32.
33. Cf. The Byzantine Easter Liturgy.
34. Cf. Rom. 8:15 and Gal. 4:6; cf. also John 1:22 and
1. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter,
Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961: AAS 53
(1961), pp. 401-464, and encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris, April 11, 1963: AAS
55 (1963), pp. 257-304; Paul VI encyclical letter
Ecclesiam Suam, Aug. 6, 1964:
AAS 54 (1864) pp. 609-659.
2. Cf. Luke 17:33.
3. Cf. St. Thomas, 1 Ethica Lect. 1.
4. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p.
418. Cf. also Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p.
5. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961) .
6. Cf. Mark 2:27.
7. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 266.
8. Cf. Jas. 2:15-16.
9. Cf. Luke 16:18-31.
10. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 299
11. Cf. Luke 6:37-38; Matt. 7:1-2; Rom. 2:1-11; 14:10, 14:10-12.
12. Cf. Matt. 5:43-47.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 9: AAS 57 (1965).
14. Cf. Exodus 24:1-8.
1. Cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 9:3; Wis. 9:3.
2. Cf. Ps. 8:7 and 10.
3. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 297.
4. Cf. Message to all mankind sent by the Fathers at the beginning of the
Second Vatican Council, Oct. 20, 1962: AAS 54 (1962), p. 823.
5. Cf. Paul VI, Address to the diplomatic corps Jan 7 1965: AAS 57 (1965), p.
6. Cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith,
Chapter III: Denz. 1785-1186 (3004-3005).
7. Cf. Msgr. Pio Paschini, Vita e opere di Galileo Galilei, 2 volumes,
Vatican Press (1964).
8. Cf. Matt. 24:13; 13:24-30 and 36-43.
9. Cf. 2 Cor. 6:10.
10. Cf. John 1:3 and 14.
11. Cf. Eph. 1:10.
12. Cf. John 3:16; Rom. 5:8.
13. Cf. Acts 2:36; Matt. 28:18.
14. Cf. Rom. 15:16.
15. Cf. Acts 1:7.
16. Cf. 1 Cor. 7:31; St. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, V, 36, PG, VIII, 1221.
17. Cf. 2 Cor. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:13.
18. Cf. 1 Cor. 2:9; Apoc. 21:4-5.
19. Cf. 1 Cor. 15:42 and 53.
20. Cf. 1 Cor. 13:8; 3:14.
21. Cf. Rom. 8:19-21.
22. Cf. Luke 9:25.
23. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p. 207.
24. Preface of the Feast of Christ the King.
1. Cf. Paul VI, encyclical letter
Ecclesiam Suam, III: AAS 56 (1964), pp.
2. Cf. Titus 3:4: "love of mankind."
3. Cf. Eph. 1:3; 5:6; 13-14, 23.
4. Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter I, n.
8: AAS 57 (1965), p. 12.
5. Ibid., Chapter II, no. 9: AAS 57 (1965), p. 14; Cf. n. 8: AAS loc. cit.,
6. Ibid., Chapter I, n. 8: AAS 57 (1965), p. 11.
7. Cf. ibid., Chapter IV, n. 38: AAS 57 (1965), p. 43, with note 120.
8. Cf. Rom. 8:14-17.
9. Cf. Matt. 22:39.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 9: AAS 57 (1965), pp.
11. Cf. Pius XII, Address to the International Union of Institutes of
Archeology, History and History of Art, March 9, 1956: AAS 48 (1965), p. 212:
"Its divine Founder, Jesus Christ, has not given it any mandate or fixed any end
of the cultural order. The goal which Christ assigns to it is strictly
religious. . . The Church must lead men to God, in order that they may be given
over to him without reserve.... The Church can never lose sight of the strictly
religious, supernatural goal. The meaning of all its activities, down to the
last canon of its Code, can only cooperate directly or indirectly in this goal."
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter I, n. 1: AAS 57 (1965), p.
13. Cf. Heb. 13:14.
14. Cf. 2 Thess. 3:6-13; Eph. 4:28.
15 Cf. Is. 58: 1-12.
16 Cf. Matt. 23:3-23; Mark 7: 10-13.
17. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra, IV: AAS 53 (1961),
pp. 456-457; cf. I: AAS loc. cit., pp. 407, 410-411.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter III, n. 28: AAS 57
(1965), p. 35.
19. Ibid., n. 28: AAS loc. cit. pp. 35-36.
20. Cf. St. Ambrose, De virginitate, Chapter VIII, n. 48: ML 16, 278.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 15: AAS 57 (1965)
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 13: AAS 57
(1965), p. 17.
23. Cf. Justin, Dialogus cum Tryphene, Chapter 110; MG 6, 729 (ed. Otto),
1897, pp. 391-393: ". . .but the greater the number of persecutions which are
inflicted upon us, so much the greater the number of other men who become devout
believers through the name of Jesus." Cf. Tertullian, Apologeticus, Chapter L,
13: "Every time you mow us down like grass, we increase in number: the blood of
Christians is a seed!" Cf.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, no.
9: AAS 57 (1965), p. 14.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II n. 15: AAS 57 (1965),
25. Cf. Paul VI, address given on Feb. 3, 1965.
1. Cf. St. Augustine, De Bene coniugali PL 40, 375-376 and 394, St. Thomas,
Summa Theologica, Suppl. Quaest. 49, art. 3 ad 1, Decretum pro Armenis:
Denz.-Schoen. 1327; Pius XI, encyclical letter
Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930, pp.
547-548; Denz.-Schoen. 3703-3714.
2. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930), pp. 546-547;
3. Cf. Hosea 2; Jer. 3:6-13; Ezech. 16 and 23; Is. 54.
4. Cf. Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19-20; Luke 5:34-35; John 3:29; Cf. also 2 Cor.
11:2; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7-8; 21:2 and 9.
5. Cf. Eph. 5:25.
6. Cf. Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: AAS 57
(1965), pp. 15-16; 40-41; 47.
7. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930), p. 583.
8. Cf. 1 Tim. 5:3.
9. Cf. Eph. 5:32.
10. Cf. Gen. 2:22-24, Prov. 5:15-20; 31:10-31; Tob. 8:4-8; Cant. 1:2-3; 1:16;
4:16-5, 1; 7:8-14; 1 Cor. 7:3-6; Eph 5:25-33.
11. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930), p. 547 and
548; Denz.-Schoen. 3707.
12. Cf. 1 Cor. 7:5.
13. Cf. Pius XII, Address Tra le visite, Jan. 20, 1958: AAS 50 (1958), p. 91.
14. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Casti Connubii: AAS 22 (1930):
Denz.-Schoen. 3716-3718, Pius XII, Allocutio Conventui Unionis Italicae inter
Obstetrices, Oct. 29, 1951: AAS 43 (1951), pp. 835-854, Paul VI, Address to a
group of cardinals, June 23 1964: AAS 56 (1964), pp. 581-589. Certain questions
which need further and more careful investigation have been handed over, at the
command of the Supreme Pontiff, to a commission for the study of population,
family, and births, in order that, after it fulfills its function, the Supreme
Pontiff may pass judgment. With the doctrine of the magisterium in this state,
this holy synod does not intend to propose immediately concrete solutions.
15. Cf. Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5.
16. Cf. Sacramentarium Gregorianum: PL 78, 262.
17. Cf. Rom. 5:15 and 18; 6:5-11; Gal. 2:20.
18. Cf. Eph. 5:25-27.
1. Cf. Introductory statement of this constitution, n. 4 ff.
2. Cf. Col. 3:2.
3. Cf. Gen. 1:28.
4. Cf. Prov. 8:30-31.
5. Cf. St. Irenaeus, Adversus haereses, III, 11, 8 (ed. Sagnard p. 200; cf.
ibid., 16, 6: pp. 290-292; 21, 10-22: pp. 370-372; 22 3: p. 378; etc.)
6. Cf. Eph. 1:10.
7. Cf. the words of Pius XI to Father M. D. Roland-Gosselin "It is necessary
never to lose sight of the fact that the objective of the Church is to
evangelize, not to civilize. If it civilizes, it is for the sake of
evangelization." (Semaines sociales de France, Versailles, 1936, pp. 461-462).
8. First Vatican Council, Constitution on the Catholic Faith: Denzinger 1795,
1799 (3015, 3019). Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23
(1931), p. 190.
9. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 260.
10. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 283;
Pius XII, Radio address, Dec. 24, 1941: AAS 34 (1942), pp. 16-17.
11. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), p. 260.
12. Cf. John XXIII, prayer delivered on Oct. 11, 1962, at the beginning of
the council: AAS 54 (1962), p. 792.
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n. 123: AAS 56 (1964), p. 131;
Paul VI, Discourse to the artists of Rome: AAS 56 (1964), pp. 439-442.
14. Cf. Second Vatican Council,
Decree on Priestly Training and
on Christian Education.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter IV, n. 37: AAS 57
(1965), pp. 42-43.
1. Cf. Pius XII, Address on March 23, 1952: AAS 44 (1953), p. 273; John
XXIII, Allocution to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, May 1, 1959: AAS 51 (1959), p. 358.
2. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p. 190
ff; Pius XII, Address of March 23, 1952: AAS 44 (1952), p. 276 ff; John XXIII,
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (19ffl), p. 450; Vatican Council II,
Decree on the Media of Social Communication, Chapter I, n. 6 AAS 56 (1964), p.
3. Cf. Matt. 16:26, Luke 16:1-31, Col. 3:17.
4. Cf. Leo XIII, encyclical letter
Libertas, in Acta Leonis XIII, t. VIII, p.
220 ff; Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931), p. 191 ff;
Pius XI, encyclical letter
Divini Redemptoris: AAS 39 (1937), p. 65 ff; Pius
XII, Nuntius natalicius 1941: AAS 34 (1942), p. 10 ff: John XXIII, encyclical
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), pp. 401-464.
5. In reference to agricultural problems cf. especially John XXIII,
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961),
6. Cf. Leo XIII, encyclical letter
Rerum Novarum: AAS 23 (1890-91), p. 649,
p. 662; Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (193-1), pp.
200-201; Pius XI, encyclical letter
Divini Redemptoris: AAS 29 (1937), p. 92;
Pius XII, Radio address on Christmas Eve 1942: AAS 35 (1943) p. 20; Pius XII,
Allocution of June 13, 1943: AAS 35 (1943), p. 172; Pius XII, Radio address to
the workers of Spain, March 11, 1951: AAS 43 (1951), p. 215; John XXIII,
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p. 419.
7. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), pp.
408, 424, 427; however, the word "curatione" has been taken from the Latin text
of the encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931) p. 199. Under the
aspect of the evolution of the question cf. also: Pius XII, Allocution of June
3, 1950: AAS 42 (1950) pp. 485-488; Paul VI, Allocution of June 8, 1964: AAS 56
(1964), pp. 573-579.
8. Cf. Pius XII, encyclical
Sertum Laetitiae: AAS 31 (1939), p. 642, John
XXIII, Consistorial allocution: AAS 52 (1960), pp. 5-11; John XXIII, encyclical
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p. 411.
9. Cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologica: II-II, q. 32, a. 5 ad 2; Ibid. q. 66, a.
2: cf. explanation in Leo XIII, encyclical letter
Rerum Novarum: AAS 23
(1890-91) p. 651; cf. also Pius XII Allocution of June 1, 1941: AAS 33 (1941),
p. 199; Pius XII, Birthday radio address 1954: AAS 47 (1955), p. 27.
10. Cf. St. Basil, Hom. in illud Lucae "Destruam horrea mea," n. 2 (PG 31,
263); Lactantius, Divinarum institutionum, lib. V. on justice (PL 6, 565 B); St.
Augustine, In Ioann. Ev. tr. 50, n. 6 (PL 35, 1760); St. Augustine, Enarratio in
Ps. CXLVII, 12 (PL 37, 192); St. Gregory the Great, Homiliae in Ev., hom. 20 (PL
76, 1165); St. Gregory the Great, Regulae Pastoralis liber, pars III c. 21 (PL
77 87); St. Bonaventure, In III Sent. d. 33, dub. 1 (ed Quacracchi, III, 728);
St. Bonaventure, In IV Sent. d. 15, p. II, a. a q. 1 (ed. cit. IV, 371 b ); q.
de superfluo (ms. Assisi Bibl. Comun. 186, ff. 112a-113a); St. Albert the Great,
In III Sent., d. 33, a.3, sol. 1 (ed. Borgnet XXVIII, 611); Id. In IV Sent. d.
15, a. 1 (ed. cit. XXIX, 494-497). As for the determination of what is
superfluous in our day and age, cf. John XXIII, Radio-television message of
Sept. 11, 1962: AAS 54 (1962) p. 682: "The obligation of every man, the urgent
obligation of the Christian man, is to reckon what is superfluous by the measure
of the needs of others, and to see to it that the administration and the
distribution of created goods serve the common good."
11. In that case, the old principle holds true: "In extreme necessity all
goods are common, that is, all goods are to be shared." On the other hand, for
the order, extension, and manner by which the principle is applied in the
proposed text, besides the modern authors: cf. St. Thomas, Summa Theologica
II-II, q. 66, a. 7. Obviously, for the correct application of the principle, all
the conditions that are morally required must be met.
12. Cf. Gratiam, Decretum, C. 21, dist. LXXXVI (ed. Friedberg I, 302). This
axiom is also found already in PL 54, 591 A (cf. in Antonianum 27 (1952)
13. Cf. Leo XIII, encyclical letter
Rerum Novarum: AAS 23 (1890-91) pp.
643-646, Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23 (1931) p. 191;
Pius XII, Radio message of June 1, 1941: AAS 33 (1941), p. 199; Pius XII, Radio
message on Christmas Eve 1942: AAS 35 (1943), p. 17; Pius XII, Radio message of
Sept. 1, 1944: AAS 36 (1944) p. 253; John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961) pp. 428-429.
14. Cf. Pius XI, encyclical letter
Quadragesimo Anno: AAS
23 (1931) p. 214; John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p. 429.
15. Cf. Pius XII, Radio message of Pentecost 1941: AAS 44 (1941) p. 199, John
XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961) p. 430.
16. For the right use of goods according to the doctrine of the New
Testament, cf. Luke 3:11, 10:30 ff; 11:41; 1 Pet. 5:3, Mark 8:36; 12:39-41; Jas.
5:1-6; 1 Tim. 6:8; Eph. 1:28; a Cor. 8:13; 1 John 3:17 ff.
1. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p.
2. Cf. John XXIII, ibid.
3. Cf. Rom. 13:1-5.
4. Cf. Rom. 13:5.
5. Cf. Pius XII, Radio message, Dec. 24, 1942: AAS 35 (1943) pp. 9-24; Dec.
24, 1944: AAS 37 (1945), pp. 11-17; John XXIII encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), pp. 263, 271 277 and 278.
6. Cf. Pius XII, Radio message of June 7, 1941: AAS 33 (1941) p. 200: John
XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris: 1.c., p. 273 and 274.
7. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), p.
8. Pius XI, Allocution "Ai dirigenti della Federazione Universitaria
Cattolica". Discorsi di Pio XI (ed. Bertetto), Turin, vol. 1 (1960), p. 743.
9. Cf. Second Vatican Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 13: AAS 57 (1965), p. 17.
10. Cf. Luke 2:14.
1. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris, April 11, 1963: AAS 55
(1963), p. 291; "Therefore in this age of ours which prides itself on its atomic
power, it is irrational to believe that war is still an apt means of vindicating
2. Cf. Pius XII, Allocution of Sept. 30, 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 589; Radio
message of Dec. 24, 1954: AAS 47 (1955), pp. 15 ff, John XXIII, encyclical
Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), pp. 286-291; Paul VI,
Allocution to the
United Nations, Oct. 4, 1965.
3. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter
Pacem in Terris, where reduction of arms
is mentioned: AAS 55 (1963), p. 287.
4. Cf. 2 Cor. 2:6.