Friday, July 07, 2006
Gaudium et Spes continues a final roll: By virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the Gospel message, and to unify under one Spirit all (people) of whatever nation, race or culture, the Church stands forth as a sign of that (communion) which allows honest dialogue and gives it vigor.
A sign not always as evident as it could be, some might say. At the very least this statement should be qualified with a disclaimer, "Aside from things which have already been determined ..."
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 any case.
The Church itself should give the best example to the world of the nature of loving, charitable human cooperation. I'm not sure we've seen this beyond the best parishes.
Our hearts embrace also those (believers) 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 (sisters and) brothers in rendering service to the human family. For, in Christ Jesus this family is called to the family of the (children) of God.
Unity in belief and unity of the world is a divine "impulse," a desire of God for the entire human family.
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.
That all should discern and act as they are called by God: we could expect nothing more from those who do not believe as we do. Yet the council is not blind to the need for believers to take "prudent" care with potential hostility:
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 (people), we are all called to be (sisters and) 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.