PASTORAL CONSTITUTION: ON THE CHURCH IN THE MODERN WORLD - GAUDIUM ET SPES
Proclaimed By His Holiness, Pope Paul VI 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 theatre 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 fulfilment.
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 served.
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 expectations, 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
paralysed by uncertainty about the direction to give it.
Never has the human race enjoyed such an abundance of wealth, resources
and economic power, and yet a huge proportion of the world's 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 spiritual advancement.
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
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
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 synthesis.
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
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
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
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 liberty.
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 behaviour.
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
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 more rapidly.
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. Labourers and farmers seek not only to provide for the
necessities of life, but to develop the gifts of their personality by
their labours 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 labours
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. 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, 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.
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. Hence under the light of Christ, the image of the unseen
God, the firstborn of every creature, 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.
PART I 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 labours 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.
CHAPTER I 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 that he might subdue them and use
them to God's glory. "What is man that you should care for him? You
have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory
and honour. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting
all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:5-7).
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 his potential.
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. 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
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. For sin has diminished man, blocking
his path to fulfilment.
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. For this reason man is not
allowed to despise his bodily life; rather he is obliged to regard his
body as good and honourable 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, 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.
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. Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary
of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.
 In a wonderful manner conscience reveals that law which is
fulfilled by love of God and neighbour. 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," 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 judgment seat of God each man must render an account of his
own life, whether he has done good or evil.
18. It is in the face of death that the riddle of 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 endeavours 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 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 with God.
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 God's 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 anaemia, 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 desire 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. Favouring 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 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
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 substructure 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
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, 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
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
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 has
made us for Thyself," O Lord, "and our hearts are restless till they
rest in Thee."
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, 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), 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, 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 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.
As an innocent lamb He merited for us life by the free shedding of His
own blood. In Him God reconciled us 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, 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, received "the first-fruits of the
Spirit" (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new
law of love. 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).
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.
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.
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 so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in
the Spirit: Abba, Father!
CHAPTER II 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, 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 neighbour is the first and greatest
commandment. Sacred Scripture, however, teaches us that the love of God
cannot be separated from love of neighbour: "If there is any other
commandment, it is summed up in this saying: Thou shall love thy
neighbour as thyself.... Love therefore is the fulfilment 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.
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. 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.
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
evil 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 grace.
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 fulfilment, 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.
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 to 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.
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. 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.
27. Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this
council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his
every neighbour without exception as another self, taking into account
first of all his life and the means necessary to living it with dignity,
 so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor
In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the
neighbour 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 labourer 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 willful 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 a supreme dishonour 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 them.
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. God
alone is the judge and searcher of hearts; for that reason He forbids us
to make judgments about the internal guilt of anyone.
The teaching of Christ even requires that we forgive injuries, 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 shall love thy
neighbour 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, colour, 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 honoured. 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
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 international peace.
Human institutions, both private and public, must labour 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
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 professing 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 others.
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 groups
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 times.
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 endeavours 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." 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.
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
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
CHAPTER III MAN'S ACTIVITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
33. Through his labours 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 for
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 laboured 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; 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.
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 labour 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.
Thus, far from thinking that works produced by man's 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.
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.
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 fulfil 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
Indeed whoever labours 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 opposed.
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
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
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.
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 God's grace.
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. "All are yours, and you are Christ's, and
Christ is God's" (1 Cor. 3:22-23).
38. For God's Word, through Whom all things were made, was Himself made
flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world's
history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and
summarizing it. 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 world's 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,
 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, 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
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.
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, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As
deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are
taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where
justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass
all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart. 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. Enduring with charity and its fruits, all that
creation 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, 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.
CHAPTER IV 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. 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
Coming forth from the eternal Father's love, founded in time by
Christ the Redeemer and made one in the Holy Spirit, 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" by Christ,
and is equipped "by appropriate means for visible and social union."
Thus the Church, at once "a visible association and a spiritual
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 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 splendour 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 members 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
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 these 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. (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 Saviour 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
42. The union of the human family is greatly fortified and fulfilled by
the unity, founded on Christ, 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. 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
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." 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 races in
this family spirit of God's children, and 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, 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. 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 and even more so did Jesus Christ
Himself in the New Testament threaten it with grave punishments.
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 neighbour 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 glory.
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 labour 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.
enlightened by Christian wisdom and giving close attention to the
teaching authority of the Church,
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 society.
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 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 family."
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,
 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 judgment 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."
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 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. 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.
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", simultaneously manifesting and exercising
the mystery of God's love for man.
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. 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 (Apoc. 22:12-
PART II 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.
CHAPTER I 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 labour 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 another.
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
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. 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
Thus a man and a woman, who by their compact of conjugal love
"are no longer two, but one flesh" (Matt. 19:6), 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 them.
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 to His people through a covenant of love and fidelity, so now
the Saviour of men and the Spouse 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, 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. 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. 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.
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, 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. 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: indeed by its busy
generosity it grows better and grows greater. Therefore it far excels
mere erotic inclination, which, selfishly pursued, soon enough fades
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 fulfilment 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, largeheartedness 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 honourable 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 Saviour,
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 fulfilment. Thus, trusting in divine
Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice, married Christians
glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfilment 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.
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 dishonourable
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 conjugal love.
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 honoured 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.
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 of men.
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 favourable 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
favour 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 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 labour to explain more thoroughly the various
conditions favouring a proper regulation of births.
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 formed.
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 in equal affection, harmony of mind and the work of mutual
sanctification. Thus, following Christ who is the principle of life,
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
CHAPTER II 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 labour, 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 labouring, 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.
SECTION 1 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. 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
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 fulfilment all are called,
especially Christians fraternally united in one human family.
SECTION 2 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. 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
fulfil 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 marvellous Wisdom which
was with God from all eternity, composing all things with him, rejoicing
in the earth, delighting in the sons of men.
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 1:9-10).
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 things.
These 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 favourable 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 each epoch.
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 the faithful.
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
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 ceases 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 and of every age. It strengthens, perfects and restores them
in Christ. Thus the Church, in the very fulfilment of her own
stimulates and advances human and civic culture; by her action, also by
her liturgy, she leads men toward interior liberty.
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 universal.
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 sciences.
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
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. 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
SECTION 3 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
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
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 favour 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 favour 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 Christ.
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
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. 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 man's
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.
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
those 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.
 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 labours. In order that they may fulfil 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.
CHAPTER III 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 favour 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
guide-lines, especially with regard to the requirements of economic
SECTION 1 Economic Development
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.
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 public authorities.
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 be erroneous.
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.
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
labour, 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
SECTION 2 Certain Principles Governing Socio-Economic Life as a Whole
67. Human labour 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
This labour, 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
labour 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 labour offered to God man is associated with the
redemptive work of Jesus Christ, Who conferred an eminent dignity on
labour 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
labour 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 common good.
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
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 labour--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. 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
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 and
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
fulfilment of their just desires. As soon as possible, however, ways
should be sought to resume negotiation and the discussion of
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. 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. 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. If one
is in extreme necessity, he has the right to procure for himself what he
needs out of the riches of others. 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," 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 develop
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 prevent 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
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.
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
By its very nature private property has a social quality which is based
on the law of the common destination of earthly goods. 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
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
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.
CHAPTER IV 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 public authority.
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. 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
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 responsibility.
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.
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.
Accordingly, the responsibility, dignity and importance of leaders are
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 Gospels.
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. 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
Among the latter, it will be well to recall the duty of rendering the
political community such material and personal services 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 social groups.
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 favourable 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 judgment 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, 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 endeavour 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 Saviour. 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
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 circumstances.
While faithfully adhering to the Gospel and fulfilling her mission to
the world, the Church, whose duty it is to foster and elevate all
that is found to be true, good and beautiful in the human community,
strengthens peace among men for the glory of God.
CHAPTER V THE FOSTERING OF PEACE AND THE PROMOTION OF A COMMUNITY OF
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
vigour. 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
lustre 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 neighbour 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
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 community itself.
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" (Isaias 2:4).
SECTION 1 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 honoured. 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 fulfil 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. The men of our time must realize that
they will have to give a sombre reckoning of their deeds of war for the
course of the future will depend greatly on the decisions they make
With these truths in mind, this most holy synod makes its own the
condemnations of total war already pronounced by recent popes, and
issues the following declaration.
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
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 centres 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 labour 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.
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 vigour. 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."
SECTlON II 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
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 unbearable want.
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, labour
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 abundant misery.
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
86. The following norms seem useful for such cooperation:
a) Developing nations should take great pains to seek as the object of
progress to express and secure the total human fulfilment of their
citizens. They should bear in mind that progress arises and grows above
all out of the labour 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
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
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, skilfully 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 been ascertained.
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
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 he 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 appropriate
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 to all.
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
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 and responsibility.
Finally, it is very much to be desired that Catholics, in order to
fulfil 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 true peace.
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 vigour.
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
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 God.
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 fulfilment 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, involves.
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.
CHAPTER 1 PART I
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. 601614; John XXIII,
encyclical letter Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961: AAS 53 (1961), pp.
451-453; Paul VI, encyclical letter Ecclesiam 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 (302).
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 John 3: 1-2.
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 (1964) pp.609-
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. 222 ff.
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.
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 and 300.
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.
13. Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 9: AAS 57
(1965). pp. 12-13.
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.
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. 232.
6. Cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic
Faith, Chapter III: Denz. 1785-1786 (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,
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.
24. Preface of the Feast of Christ the King.
1. Cf. Paul VI, encyclical letter Ecclesiam suam, III: AAS 56 (1964),
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., p. 11.
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.
10. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 9: AAS 57
(1965), pp. 12-14.
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."
12. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter I, n. 1: AAS 57 (1965),
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, 410411.
18. Cf. 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.
21. Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 15: AAS 57
22. Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 13: AAS 57
(1965), n. 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.
24. Cf. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Chapter II, n. 15: AAS 57
(1965), o. 20.
25. Cf. Paul VI, address given on Feb. 3, 1965.
PART II CHAPTER 1
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- Denz.-Schoen. 3706.
3. Cf. Osee 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; Apoc. 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),
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;
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,
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.
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.
12. Cf. John XXIII, prayer delivered on Oct. 11, 1962, at the beginning
of the council: AAS 54 (1962), P. 792.
13. Cf. 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-
14. Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree on Priestly Training and
Declaration on Christian Education.
15. Cf. 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, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), P. 450;
Vatican Council II, Decree on the Media of Social Communication, Chapter
I, n. 6 AAS 56 (1964), P. 147.
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 letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961),
5. In reference to agricultural problems cf. especially John XXIII,
encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961), P. 341 ff.
6. Cf. Leo XIII, encyclical letter Rerum Novarum: AAS 23 (1890-91), P.
649, P. 662, Pius XI, encyclical letter Quadragesimo Anno: AAS 23
(1931), 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, encyclical letter 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. 485488; 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 letter 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. 2 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. 16 (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
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 (1961j 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.
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. 4:28; 2 Cor. 8:13; 1 John 3:17 ff.
1. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961),
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
7. Cf. John XXIII, encyclical letter Mater et Magistra: AAS 53 (1961),
8. Pius XI, allocution "Ai dirigenti della Federazione Universitaria
Cattolica". Discorsi di Pio XI (ed. Bertetto), Turin, vol. 1 (1960), P.
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 violated rights."
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 letter 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.