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Arkansas Catholic
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November 4, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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November 4, 1990

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AI~NSAS CA'HqOLIC N6VEMBER'41 i990 PAGE i5 II," from page 14 Council's clearest statements linking ~ner conversion and outward mission. "rhe pilgrim Church is missionary by very nature," it added. its call to preach the Gospel reaffirmed alelf.understanding of the Church that dates back to the first apostles, the decree developed new ~ays of viewing that mission and carrying it out. It rejected the imposition of Western culture people of other cultures in the name of the It urged Christians in non-Christians lands in the cultural and social life of their e0Untry and to "be familiar with their national tlld religious traditions. It called on missionaries not to disparage other religions and declared that working for justice, Peace and human progress is important to the issionary task. Church and World l~y far the longest, and easily one of the most most remembered and most quoted of Vatican II was Gaudium et Spes, the Constitution on the Church in the Mad- World. :, rith its opening words it definitively reversed . centuries-old'"fortress" mentality of Catholic Paration from, almost disdain for, the world: q'he joys and the hones, the griefs and the ~eties of the men of ~his age, especially those wll~ . . .are poor or m any way affhcted, these too are .e JaYs and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the ~llowers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely "a~aan fails to raise an echo in their hearts .... this ;a~aaunity (of the Church) realizes that it is truly ~i"It intimately linked with mankind and its his- te ff"auclium et Spes was, in its own words, the at- :,raPt of the council "to explain to everyone how '-t~ . i nCewes the presence and activity of the Church .... ~e, World today." ~[Jtlst the bare mention of all tooics treated by ~ ~3,000-word document would i'orm a lengthy 8 rae of the issues for which it is a major re- of Church teaching are: human dignity, person, community; social justice, sin, technological advance and rapid social marriage, conjugal love, family life and culture, education, economic ac- Work, leisure, stewardship, private property, participation, Church and state, citizen- gOVernment, international relations, war, the arms race, develpment of poorer na- organizations and law in a new Order, population, dialogue as a means of resolution. ~Vas, in short, a general framework or over- document for Catholic social teaching. reference in the document's opening sen- to "especially those who are poor" was the starting point, though it clearly draws on themes, of what has come to be called Cs "preferential option for the poor." place of Scripture in Catholic thought and new emphasis throughout the work II, and the Bible was the central topic council's most important documents, Constitution on Divine Revelation, as Dei Verbum (God's Word). first draft of the document, which started and tradition as distinct sources of was so severely criticized when it was three years earlier that Pope John set up a new commission to rewrite it en- of highlighting differences between tradition, the document that resulted in 1965 emphasized the "close connection and communication" between the two. "For both of them, flowing from the same di- vine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end," it said. The text strongly encouraged modem biblical scholarship, and its most immediate impact was on Bible scholars, theologians and teachers, not on pratical, everyday Church life. Dei Verbum was a framework document, how- ever, which has to be viewed along with the other conciliar documents.. From liturgy to religious life, from priestly formation to the role of the laity, from ecumenism to the Church's role in the modern world, all the other council documents bore out in practice the renewed emphasis on Scripture the Dei Verbum called for. Laity When Vatican II issued its Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, that ringing call for lay participation in the life and mission of the Church was almost universally hailed as long overdue. Bearing the Latin title Apostolicam Actuositate~ it was the first conciliar document in Church history devoted specifically to the laity. "Christ conferred on the apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying and ruling in His name and power," the decree says. "But the laity, too, share in the priestly, prophetic and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world .... Incor- porated into Christ's Mystical Body through bap- tism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord himself." The focus which Vatican II placed on the laity in the Church is, in one sense, shown more clearly by what was removed from the laity decree than by what was left in. Whole sections of the original draft were transferred to other documents that would be in- complete without chapters on the laity - the laity as the people of God to the Dogmatic Constitu- tion on the Church, the witness of the laity in the world to the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, lay missionary work to the mission decree, and so on. What was left for the laity decree itself was a study of the lay apostolate. It challenged all Catholic lay people to take far greater responsibility for the church's life and mission. In conjunction with other Vatican II documents, its call for all Catholics to live and spread the Gospel constituted the central challenge of the council. Twenty-five years ago the Second Vatican Council concluded deliberations that brought sweeping changes to Catholicism. Of the counclrs 16 documents, these four were approved Dec. 7, 1965: DECLARATION Said that religious liberty Is a right found in ON RELIGIOUS the dignity of each person and that no one FREEDOM should be forced to act in a way contrary "'DignltaHs to his or her own beliefs, Humanae" DECREE ON Said the primary duty of priests is to THE MINISTRY proclaim the Gospel to all, approved AND LIFE and encouraged celibacy as a gift and OF PRIESTS recommended fair salaries. "'Presbyterorum Ordinis" DECREE ON Said missionary activity should help the THE CHURCH'S social and economic welfare of people and not MISSIONARY force anyone to accept the faith. ACTIVITY "'Ad Gentes" PASTORAL Said the church must talk to atheists, a con- CONSTITUTION tinual campaign must be waged for peace, ON THE CHURCH nuclear war is unthinkable and aid to under- IN THE MODERN developed nations is urgent. Said marriage WORLD was not just for procreation and urged science "'Gaudium to find an acceptable means of birth regulation. et SpaS" DECREE ON THE Said each bishop has full ordinary power BISHOPS' PASTORAL in his own diocese and is expected to OFFICE IN THE present Christian doctrine in ways adapted CHURCH to the times. Urged conferences of bishops "'Chrlstus Dora/hue'* to exercise pastoral direction jointly. DECREE ON Recommended that seminaries pay altention PRIESTLY tO the spiritual, intellectual and disciplinary FORMATION formation necessary to prepare priesthood "'Optatarn Totius" students to become good pastors. DECREE ON THE Provided guidelines for the personal and APPROPRIATE institutional renewal of the lives of RENEWAL OF THE nuns, brothers and priests belonging RELIGIOUS LIFE tO religious orders. "'Perfectae Caritatis" \ DECLARATION ON Said the Catholic Church rejects nothing THE RELATIONSHIP that is true and holy in non-Christian OF THE CHURCH religions, called for an end to anti-Semitism TO NON-CHRISTIAN and said any discrimination based on race, RELIGIONS color, religion or condition of life is "'Nostra Aetate" foreign to the mind of Christ. DECLARATION Affirmed the right of parents to choose the ON CHRISTIAN type of education they want for their EDUCATION children, upheld the importance of Catholic "'Gravissimum schools and defended freedom of inquiry Educatlonls" in Catholic colleges and universities. DOGMATIC Said the church depends on Scripture and CONSTITUTION tradition as the one deposit of God's word ON DIVINE REVELATION and commended the use of modern scientific scholarship in studying Scripture. "'Del Verburn" DECREE ON THE APOSTOLATE OF THE LAITY Said the laity should influence their "'Apostolicam surroundings with Christ's teachings. Actuositafem" 1 i)90 CNS Graphlo=