The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World

The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (in Latin: Gaudium et spes) was a very important, historic document that spoke to the Church and to all people about the hopes and dreams of the human family. It was the first document to address the whole world issued by an ecumenical council, and it was approved on Dec. 7, 1965, by a vote of 2,309 to 75. Here are a few highlights:

  • “The joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the people 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.”
  • We must look at and trust the signs of the times and understand the world in which we live.
  • The human person is dignified but many still suffer.
  • Human “conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a person where he or she is alone with God.” But there is a mysterious aspect to human nature and conscience is not easily discerned.
  • We live together in a global community of persons in which there must be made available everything necessary for leading a truly human life.
  • Every type of discrimination is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.
  • Science does not conflict with faith…the Church is the friend of Science.
  • The Church lives and acts in the world. “Let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one part, and religious life on the other.” It isn’t “the world against the Church.” It’s “the world together with the Church.”
  • Specific problems of special concern to the Church include marriage and family, the development of culture, economic and social life, the life of the political community, and the fostering of peace.