I was reading an article on the G20 – but for what I have to say it could have been about almost anything – when I was hit by a reference to the "great transformations of the Nineties". Mind me, nothing conspicuous about it, it was just that it stirred in me an unfavorable recollection.
To speak about the accelerated transformation of present day society is a common place of our times.
Hard to die. Nobody noticing that we have been saying that since I don't know when, so marking our society with an unchanging character.
I must say, as student of cultural anthropology, that I didn't draw from it a lesson of relativism. I did learn from it to relativise myself as man of my time; but this was rather a stimulus to look for constants in human affairs, and discover how, in spite of all seeming evidence to the contrary, men have not changed in their nature. Save of course for the change brought by divine grace through Jesus Christ: a change, though, that non tollit sed perficit naturam.
The unfavorable stir in my memory provoked by that article, brought back to the surface the "wind of the Sixties", of which I spoke some time ago. We were really convinced that a new era was dawning. Unfortunately we find traces of the cultural mood of that time also in the Second Vatican Council: in what now appears to me its soft spot, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in today's world Gaudium and spes.
There I read: "Humanity lives today a new period of her history, characterized by profound and quick changes that are progressively extended to the whole universe" (GS n° 4).
Did they, the Council fathers, really believe that?