Saturday, October 03, 2009

Gaudium et spes and the Work of the Holy Spirit: a reply to the HP

Dear HP,

Well you know of my love for the Catholic tradition, and well you know of my wariness of modernity - indeed, I learned much of it at your foot.

Having said that, I must now wonder whether your treatment of Gaudium et spes might be incomplete.

GS is a document of the Council, and as such we must regard it as inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Only then can we (and I think that, in the case of GS, we really must) go on to criticize it.

Indeed, one of its harshest and most effective critics is the present Pontiff, who struggled to find a Christocentric key in the text.

Eventually he did, following JPII's frequent citation of the line to the effect that Jesus CHrist is not only God's self-revelation to Man, but God's revelation of the truth about human nature nature to Mankind.

That said, the document was written by committee, and as such is an abject failure from a literary point of view.

With regard to the document's discussion of transformation, I would recall the opening lines:
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.
Now, I may be using too sharp a knife, but it has always strucke me that the lack of a qualifier following the naming of the "followers of Christ" is conspicuous, and telling. The joys and hopes of the present age are the joys and hopes etc. of Christians, sic et simpliciter, which is to say, the joys and hopes etc. of Christians in every age. The opening statement of the document, on this reading, would contain a constant, precisely the constant the Council Fathers go on to ignore for the rest of the document.



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