Gaudium et Spes

Posted: November 26th, 2013

Gaudium et Spes



Gaudium et Spes is one of the four Apostolic Constitutions that provides a summary of the Catholic Church’s beliefs and attitudes in reference to science and technology, economics, poverty, social justice and other recurrent world issues. The title of this constitution is taken from the first sentence. “Proper Development of Culture” is under the second part of the Gaudium et Spes that discusses problems of special urgency. In it, the author explores the concepts of progression of culture while also analyzing what this would mean to the development of religion in the world. The problem therefore is that as culture develops, it would force the church to secularize itself and thus this may result in some drawbacks towards attainment of the Catholic Church’s objectives for the world.


The Gaudium et Spes defines culture as everything that has to do with the lives of people, all their values and practices whether good or bad; and the way in which people express themselves through language, institutions and social conditions. The author sees the need for the intervention of the Catholic Church in the area of culture in order to integrate more Christianity into it. He states that there have been so many social and cultural changes that it is as though the human race is experiencing a new age. New patterns of thinking, acting, communicating and leisure have grown that are shaping and changing people’s cultures all over the world. The author believes that the exchanges of culture should lead to the unification and harmony between nations of the world.

However, he believes that care should be taken to prevent new cultures from completely erasing old traditions and wisdom and replacing people’s original cultures. In addition, he states that the development and exchanges of culture could lead to increased secularism, thus creating an environment whereby religion is regarded with hostility. He urges Christians to obey their calling, which is to control the earth and develop God’s creation in order to make an impact and be of service in the world. By making the world a better place, Christians encourage the rest of the world to come into the knowledge of the Creator. He also states that the development of science and technology may lead to agnosticism and atheism, but Christians should not let this lead them to despise the advancements, since they are useful.

The author also discusses the relationship between the message of salvation and culture. He states that Jesus’ teachings were always appropriate to the cultures of the people he was speaking to. Thus, the Church should also understand people’s cultures in order to spread the Gospel effectively. The Gospel is an effective tool in the purification of people’s inequities and it shows the world the right path, thus the church should integrate with the world’s cultures in order to spread the world. The key terms used include ‘humanity’, which is used as a definition for all of humankind. The Pope constantly uses this term in order to show that the content of the constitution concerns everyone in the world and not specific individuals or races. ‘Culture’ is another key term that the author uses. He uses it to describe patterns of behavior, thinking, beliefs and other works of humanity that are transmitted through people in different parts of the world over time.


The author concludes by stating that the development of the individual, the good of the community and humanity should all come before culture. Culture should be allowed to develop unrestrained as long as it respects the rights of all people within the community. Authorities should therefore not determine how culture should develop but should provide structures that facilitate the proper growth of culture in line with truth and respect for all people despite their economic, racial or political backgrounds.


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