SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL
GAUDIUM ET SPES
X. Christian Humanism
THIS new humanism is the very substance of the “ Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World” better known as Gaudium et Spes.
« A detail that speaks volumes, our Father wrote, about the gratuitous and fallacious nature of this discourse to men. Its first words in its first draft were : Joy and Sadness. That would have made a depressing title! The order of the first four words was therefore inverted: Joy and sadness, hope and anxieties, in such a way that the final title was enticing: “ Joy and hope”… Sadness and anxieties were driven into the background, forgotten!
MAN, THE NEW WAY FOR THE CHURCH
Right from the preamble of “ Gaudium et Spes, the Council says that « nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in the hearts of the followers of Christ… The Church realises that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds. » (no 1) This is why she became its servant: « 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. » (no 3)
It has been said that the Council would take an interest in man, in nothing but man, in every man and in all men; there is no end to it, ad nauseam.
« What does the Church think of man? » (no 11) The incredible response is at number 12: « According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their centre and crown. » Our Father’s commentary: « This impious proposition, authentically Satanic was accepted without any questions in Saint Peter’s, unanimously accepted by the Pope and the bishops, except for 75 righteous men who did not kneel down before the idol! »
Does Holy Scripture justify such a cult of man? Basing itself on the text of Genesis: man was created “ in the image of God” (Gn 1.26), the Council thought it had triumphed when it called on the additional support of Psalm 8: « By very little, You have made him less than a god: Yes with glory and honour have You crowned him, You have set him over the works of your hands; and put all things under his feet. » The case is decisive, isn’t it? Well! too bad: although traditional, this version is known to be a serious mistranslation, that Brother Bruno has perfectly brought to light. (cf. CRC no 356, p. 19-20).
No, this inspired psalm is in no way a hymn to the glory of man, a notion quite alien to the Bible, but « to the Name of Yahweh, magnificent throughout all the world », and to Jesus, the Messiah to come! His victory over sin will give to Him, and to Him alone, the royal sceptre, by putting all things under his feet. Through Him, man, « deprived for a moment of the presence of God », and not « by very little made less than a god », will learn to praise once again the holy Name of God.
“ Gaudium et Spes” mentions sin but as though it is a chance mishap, that the Lord came to remove, « to free and strengthen man, renewing him ». There follows a glorification of man in his body, his mind, his conscience, his freedom, etc. And when his idol feels as though it has feet of clay, thinking of the misery of life and of ineluctable death, the Council is there to cheer him up: « man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. » (no 18) The reward has already been acquired. Why fear then? Joy! Hope!
THE DIALOGUE WITH ATHIESTS
If modern man has the “temptation” of doing without God, the fault, prepare yourself for a shock, belongs to Christians:
« 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. » (no 19) When one thinks of the atheist regimes that persecute Christians, one can hardly believe it.
Among the “misleading presentations” of Christian doctrine, we learn that there is one which consists in condemning atheism: « 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. » (no 21)
In order to justify such overtures to modern atheists theologically, it would take all the boldness of a young Polish bishop, much engaged in this dialogue.
THE MAJOR HERESY
The proof that every man has within himself an inalienable dignity and almost infinite capacities, is Christ, the perfect man, « who fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear… Since human nature as He assumed it was not annulled, 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… » (no 22,2)
This last sentence, it is now known, was inserted into the conciliar text by the young Bishop of Cracow, Karol Wojtyla. Since his elevation to the supreme pontificate, none of his speeches or encyclicals fails to make reference to this passage of Gaudium et Spes. Our Father denounced it right from his first encyclical “ Redemptor Hominis”, in April 1979.
« Here is the principle whereby the passage is made from Christianity to universal Humanism, the joining of the cult of God and of God made man to the cult of man and of man who makes himself God…There is the greatest inversion of the faith ever professed! It turns everything upside down. Christ, by His Incarnation and Redemption, is made to be the revealer of man’s own grandeur to man, the revealer of man’s own worth and merit and so convince him of his excellence! Never had Jesus Christ and his mysteries of grace thus been made the pedestal and ornament for human pride. » (G. de Nantes, The Two Encyclicals, CCR no 110, pp. 9-10)
But “ Gaudium et Spes” does not stop there. A little further on, it is the participation in the paschal mystery which is “ in some fashion” extended to the entire human race: « All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, 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. » (no 22,5)
The Cross of Christ, the Church, faith, baptism, Christendom, as a result, become unnecessary, since every man, raised to an unequalled dignity, is already entered into the way of his salvation.
THE RELIGION OF HUMANITY
« What measures should be recommended for the upbuilding of contemporary society? » After the vocation of man, this is the second question that the world is supposed to ask the Church.
The reply: « 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 » (no 25). From this principle follows « an apparently Christian doctrine, skilfully disguised, falsified in favour of the “human family”. God is its Father, everyone in it is an image of God, all are brothers. They must therefore all love one another, which is very necessary in the present scheme of socialisation! And this is the ideal for it that even goes so far as finding the model for it in “the union of the Divine Persons”. Just like that! » (CCR no 31, p. 8)
And if everything cannot be arranged to the satisfaction of all, a revolution will occur: « 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 marvellous 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. » (no 26)
This utopia which is contrary to nature and this anti-Christian humanism are skilfully larded with clauses such as « not without the assistance of grace », inserted here and there, but unable to supernaturalise this Masonic ideal.
A NEW EARTH
Then follows a programme for the creation of a new world. What vain flatteries with respect to modern man! « 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 divine grandeur [sic!] and the flowering of His own mysterious design. » (no 34)
Man is supposed to find fulfilment in his activity and to discover in it « the fullness of his calling », a vocation which only appears earthly, natural, carnal in “ Gaudium et Spes”. « By his action… man goes outside of himself and beyond himself. (no 35) A catechesis of pride which identifies the construction of the earthly city with the coming of the Kingdom of God! Number 39, adroitly constructed, insinuates this with a consummate malice:
« Therefore, while we are warned that it profits a man nothing if he gain the whole world and lose himself, 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.
« 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.” On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower. » (no 39)
After having presented « the role of the Church in the modern world », a role of service, of course, in a mutual « penetration » (no 40)! the Council claimed to resolve the most urgent problems of our times, by becoming a peddler of happiness: marriage and family, culture, social-economic life, political life, finally universal peace, its pipe dream. This brief commentary is sufficient:
« It floundered lamentably... The reason is simple and profound. “ Two kinds of love have built two cities: the love of self which despises God, and the love of God which despises self ”, wrote St. Augustine. These are the two poles, the two possible driving forces of the human heart. The Council has placed between men and God all the idols of the modern pantheon, Man, Humanity, the Earth, and it wanted to have its new morality depend on the cult and the service of these beautiful abstractions. » (CCR no31, p. 10)
THE TRIPLE PITFALL OF “GAUDIUM ET SPES”
Before rediscovering the basis of a true Christian humanism, it is necessary to clear the way by denouncing the three errors distilled in “ Gaudium et Spes”, as in many subsequent speeches of the Popes Paul VI and John Paul II:
- Naturalism. The Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, is not of this world, but beyond it. It is necessary to die with Christ and lose one’s life in order to win it by rising with Him to Eternal Life. The “vocation”, the “liberation” and the “salvation” of man are not of a temporal, human, and political order, but of a religious, moral and transcendent order.
- Optimism. Because this battle and this effort to win the Kingdom of God are not due to man but to God. They are the work of grace in us, not of the “good will” and the “natural energies” of humanity, even less of a “divine seed” and of a “Spirit” that would be generally distributed in all men like an innate energy and nobility.
- Humanism lastly, falsely made out to be evangelical and Christian, according to which faith and the Catholic religion’s providential function would be to serve as the spiritual driving force of this construct, to be the soul of the world in its progress, proffering its advice and examples, its lights and energies to assure success in winning the happiness of every man by man for all men.
CHRISTIAN HUMANISM RECOVERED
Far from falling into the contrary excess of supernaturalism, of pessimism and anti-humanism, which are not in the least Catholic, Vatican III will go back, without difficulty, to the wisdom of the Church of all times, and when God is served first, He will not let Himself be outdone when it comes to generosity.
Our Father traced the broad outline of this programme. This Council of Catholic resurrection will first of all redefine « the Christian sense of man » and his vocation in God’s design.
« The Second Vatican Council was haunted by the just preoccupation of laying out well, end to end, in an extension of one to the other, this side of death to the other, the life of the human, earthly world to the life of the heavenly, divine world. But its error was, in doing so, to bring Heaven in line with the earth, what is divine with what is human, what is spiritual with what is carnal and, all in all, to devalue the supernatural by reducing it to nothing more than a remarkable perfection and the development of human nature. And this is precisely the opposite work, contrary to that of Christ, who during his life on earth, transposed the carnal “joys and hopes” of the Jews to the superior level of spiritual realities.
« The next Council should condemn error but retain this concern and this just ambition of giving to the world a harmonious vision of the two periods of our destiny: the earthly stage and eternal life. How can this be done? By situating the fissure, the great crevasse that all men must cross, the great “Passage”, in Hebrew “Pasch”, not at bodily death which is nothing but a secondary and expected accident, but at the death and resurrection experienced in Christ who has made the Jew and the pagan into Christians, the sinner into a saint, the man doomed to eternal death into a living being endowed with a perfection which is eternal in itself. »
Individual salvation will then extend to the entire community: « Earthly life in all its conjugal, familial, economic and political forms becomes the place of this transfiguration and the very matter of this spiritualisation… It is the family, the factory, the trade union, the school, the nation having become Catholic, and beyond all specific places, Christendom at large. The truth of Christ, the sacramental grace of Christ, the evangelical law of Christ guarantee to these societies of a temporal nature, their order come from Above, their movement, their life, their cohesion. Not as the world sees them, wants them, and claims to build them, but to the extent that God wills and in the imperfection of what is perishable, but in an admirable manner. This is the major principle of social order that Vatican III will define. There is no life for society or for individuals other than in the supernatural order of the grace of Christ. »
Taken from He is Risen! n° 11, July 2003, p. 3-6