What is the highest calling of mankind

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1. The Church's closest bond with the whole human family

Joy and hope, sorrow and fear of people today, especially the poor and afflicted of all kinds, are also joy and hope, sorrow and fear of the disciples of Christ. And there is nothing truly human that does not resonate in their hearts.

After all, their own community is made up of people who, united in Christ, are led by the Holy Spirit on their pilgrimage to the Father's kingdom and have received a message of salvation that is to be communicated to all.

That is why this community feels that it is really closely connected to humanity and its history.

2. Whom the council addresses here

Therefore, after a deeper clarification of the mystery of the Church, the Second Vatican Council no longer addresses without hesitation only to the children of the Church and to all who call on Christ's name, but to all people par excellence with the intention of explaining to everyone how it is present and Understanding the work of the Church in today's world. So before his eyes stands the world of men, that is, the whole human family with the totality of the realities in which it lives; the world, the scene of human history, shaped by its ventures, defeats and victories; the world which, according to the faith of Christians, is founded and sustained by the love of the Creator; who come under the bondage of sin but have been delivered by Christ, crucified and risen, by breaking the rule of evil; destined to be reshaped according to God's saving counsel and to come to perfection.

3. The mandate to serve people

Certainly humanity in our day is full of admiration for its own inventions and its own power; Nevertheless, she is often anxiously oppressed by questions about today's development of the world, about the position and task of man in the universe, about the meaning of his individual and collective creativity, and finally about the ultimate goal of things and people. As a witness and herald of the faith of the whole people of God united in Christ, the Council cannot express their unity, respect and love for the whole human family, to which this is itself inserted, than by entering into a dialogue with it all these different problems; that it brings the light of the Gospel and that it offers the human race those powers of salvation which the Church herself, guided by the Holy Spirit, receives from its founder. It is about the salvation of the human person, it is about the right construction of human society.

So the human being, the one and whole human being, with body and soul, heart and conscience, reason and will is the focus of our explanations.

The Holy Synod therefore confesses the high vocation of man, declares that something like a divine seed has sunk in him, and offers humanity the sincere cooperation of the Church in establishing that fraternal communion of all that corresponds to this vocation.

The Church does not determine an earthly will for power, but only one thing: under the guidance of the Spirit, the Comforter, to continue the work of Christ himself, who came into the world to bear witness to the truth (1); to save, not to judge; to serve, not to be served (2).


4. Hope and fear

In order to fulfill this mission of its own, the Church always has the duty to search for the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel. In this way, in a manner appropriate to each generation, it can give answers to people's remaining questions about the meaning of the present and future life and about the relationship between the two. So it is important to grasp and understand the world in which we live, its expectations, aspirations and its often dramatic character. Some of the main features of the world today can be described as follows. Today humanity is in a new epoch in its history, in which deep and rapid changes are spreading step by step across the world. They proceed from people, their reason and creative power; they have an effect on him again, on his personal and collective judgments and wishes, on his way of seeing things and people and dealing with them. One can speak of a real social and cultural transformation that also affects religious life.

As happens with every growth crisis, this transformation also brings with it no small difficulties.

So man expands his power so far and yet cannot always control it in such a way that it really serves him. He undertakes to penetrate deeper and deeper areas of the soul, and yet often seems at a loss about himself. Step by step he discovers the laws of social life and yet does not know which direction to give it. Mankind has never had so much wealth, opportunities and economic power, and yet an immense number of the inhabitants of our earth still suffer from hunger and hardship, and there are still innumerable illiterate people.

Never before have people had such a keen sense of freedom as they do today, and at the same time new forms of social and psychological servitude are emerging.

The world vividly feels its unity and the mutual dependence of all on all in a necessary solidarity and yet is at the same time violently torn apart by conflicting forces. Because tough political, social, economic, racial and ideological tensions persist; even the danger of a war persists, which would destroy everything to the last.

The exchange of views is increasing; and yet the same words, in which weighty ideas are expressed, take on very different meanings in the various ideologies.

In the end one strives tirelessly for a more perfect order in the earthly realm, but spiritual growth does not keep pace with it.

Affected by such a complex situation, many of our contemporaries find it difficult to recognize the eternal values ​​correctly and to bring them to a correct synthesis with the new that arises; thus, driven back and forth between hope and fear, they are deeply troubled by the question of how things are going today.

This demands an answer from the person. Yes he forces him to.

5. The profound change in the situation

The unrest that can be observed today and the change in living conditions are related to a comprehensive change in reality, so that mathematical, scientific and anthropological disciplines in the field of education, and technology based on these disciplines in the practical field, are gaining in importance. This positive-scientific attitude gives the culture and thinking of the people a new stamp compared to earlier times. Technology is already going so far that it reshapes the face of the earth itself, yes, it is already beginning to master planetary space. The spirit of man also extends his dominion over time, so to speak; about the past with the help of history; about the future through methodically developed foresight and planning. As they advance, biology, psychology, and social sciences not only give man a better knowledge of himself; they also help him to directly influence social life in a methodically controlled manner.

At the same time, humanity is increasingly concerned with forecasting and controlling its own population growth. The course of history itself accelerates so rapidly that the individual is hardly able to follow it. The fate of the human community becomes one and is no longer divided into different historical processes. Humanity is making a transition from a more static understanding of the order of total reality to a more dynamic and evolutionary understanding. The consequence of this is a new, conceivably great complexity of the problems, which in turn calls for new analyzes and syntheses.

6. Changes in society

With this, however, the traditional local communities, such as patriarchal families, clans, tribes, villages, the various groups and social interdependencies, are experiencing ever deeper changes. The type of industrial society is gradually expanding; some nations attain economic prosperity through him; at the same time he completely transforms the ways of thinking and living in society that have evolved over centuries. Urbanization is increasing accordingly, partly as a result of the growth of cities and their population, and partly as a result of the urban way of life affecting the rural population. The new and more and more perfected means of social communication contribute to the fact that one is informed about current events and that views and attitudes spread quickly and widely with all the chain reactions associated with them. The importance of the fact that people, for various reasons to migrate, thereby change their way of life should not be underestimated. The interdependence of people with one another is constantly increasing and "socialization" leads to ever new entanglements, but without always promoting a corresponding maturation of the person and really personal relationships ("personalization"). This development can be seen more clearly in the nations benefiting from economic and technical progress; But it also affects the developing countries, which want to gain the advantages of industrialization and urban culture for their regions as well.

At the same time, these peoples, especially those with ancient traditions, experience a movement towards a more developed and personal exercise of freedom.

7. Psychological, moral and religious changes

The changes in ways of thinking and structures often call traditional values ​​into question, especially among the younger generation, who often become impatient, even fearful, rebellious and, aware of their own importance in social life, claim to participate more quickly.

As a result, parents and educators experience ever greater difficulties in fulfilling their task.

The institutions, laws, ways of thinking and perceiving inherited from previous generations do not seem to correspond well to the real conditions of today. This leads to severe disturbances in behavior and even in behavioral norms. Finally, the new conditions also have an impact on religious life. On the one hand, the sharpened critical sense cleanses religious life of a magical understanding of the world and of superstitious elements that are still present, and more and more demands a more and more expressly personal belief decision, so that not a few come to a more lively experience of God. On the other hand, broad masses of the people practically give up religious life. Unlike in earlier times, the denial of God or religion or the total indifference to them are no longer an exception and no longer a matter only of individuals.

Today, such an attitude is not infrequently presented as a demand for scientific progress and a so-called new humanism.

All of this is found in many countries not only in the theories of philosophers, but to a large extent determines literature, art, the interpretation of science and history, and even civil law. The result is confusion for many.

8. The disturbances of the equilibrium in today's world

Such a rapid change in conditions, which often goes on in a disorderly manner, and in addition a sharper awareness of the tensions in the world create or increase contradictions and disturbances of the equilibrium. Even in the individual there is often a disturbance of the equilibrium between today's practical consciousness and theoretical thinking that does not manage to cope with the amount of knowledge offered to him and to organize it adequately in syntheses.

A similar disturbance of the balance also arises between the determined will to effective action and the demands of the moral conscience, but often also between the collective living conditions and the requirements for personal thinking or even a contemplative life.

At last there is a disturbance of the balance between the specialization of human activity and a comprehensive worldview. Tensions arise in the family under the pressure of the demographic, economic and social situation, from the conflicts between successive generations, from the new social relationships between men and women. Great tensions also arise between the races, even between the different groups of a society, between richer and weaker or needy peoples, and finally between the international institutions that have arisen from the peoples' longing for peace and the ruthless propaganda of their own ideology, including collective egoism the nations and other groups.

The result is mutual distrust and enmity, conflicts and emergencies. Man is both its cause and its victim.

9. The wider desires of humanity

At the same time there is a growing conviction that humanity can and must not only strengthen its rule over creation, but that it is also its task to create a political, social and economic order that is ever better at the service of human beings helps individuals and groups to assert and develop their own dignity. Therefore, very many lay claim to those goods which, according to their deeply felt conviction, are withheld from them through injustice or wrong distribution.

The rising peoples, like those who have only recently become independent, demand their share in today's cultural goods not only in the political but also in the economic field and want to play their role in the world freely, while at the same time keeping their distance and often theirs as well economic dependence on the richer peoples, who develop more quickly, grows.

The hungry peoples demand accountability from the richer peoples.

Women demand for themselves legal and factual equality with men where they have not yet achieved this. The workers and peasants not only want to be able to acquire what is necessary for their livelihood, but also want to develop their personal values ​​through their work and, moreover, have their share in shaping economic, social, political and cultural life. For the first time in human history, all peoples are convinced that the advantages of civilization can and must really benefit everyone.

Behind all of these claims is a deeper and more comprehensive desire: individuals and groups desire a full and free life that is worthy of human beings by making everything available to them that the world today can offer them so abundantly.

In addition, the peoples strive more and more for a certain all-inclusive community.

In these circumstances, the modern world is strong and weak at the same time, capable of doing the best or the worst; for them the way is open to freedom or bondage, progress or regression, brotherhood or hatred. In addition, man now becomes aware that it is his own task to properly direct those forces which he himself has awakened and which can crush him or serve him.

Therefore what he asks is himself.

10. The deeper questions of humanity

In truth, the imbalances that the modern world suffers from are related to that underlying imbalance that originated in the human heart. Because in man himself there are many contradicting elements. On the one hand, he experiences himself as a creature in many ways, on the other hand, he feels unlimited in his desires and called to a life of a higher order. Between the many possibilities that call him, he inevitably has to make a choice and so renounce this or that. As a weak person and a sinner, he often does what he does not want and what he wanted to do he does not (3).

So he suffers from an internal ambivalence, and this leads to many and serious disagreements in society as well. Of course, many are distracted by a practically materialistic lifestyle from a clear grasp of this dramatic situation or, under the pressure of their impoverishment, are unable to deal with it. Many believe that they will find their peace in one of the many interpretations of the world.

Others, on the other hand, expect the true and full liberation of mankind from mere human effort and are convinced that man's future rule over the earth will fulfill all the desires of their hearts. Others again praise, despairing of the meaning of life, the courage of those who, convinced of the absolute insignificance of human existence, try to give it all its meaning exclusively from the autonomous disposal of the subject.

Nevertheless, in view of today's world development, the number of those who ask the basic questions or feel with a new sharpness: What is man?

What is the point of pain, evil, death - all things that still persist despite such progress?

Why these victories if they had to be bought so dearly?

What can people give to society, what can they expect from it?

What comes after this earthly life?

But the Church believes that Christ, who died and rose for all, gives man light and strength through his Spirit so that he can fulfill his highest calling; there is no other name under heaven given to men in which to be saved (5).

She further believes that in her Lord and Master the key, the center and the goal of all human history is given. The Church also confesses that there is much that is unchangeable at the bottom of all changes, which has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever (6).

In the light of Christ, therefore, the image of the invisible God, the firstborn before all creation (7), the council wants to address all people in order to shed light on the mystery of man and to help find a solution to the most urgent questions of our time.



11. Answers to the drives of the mind

Believing that they are guided by the Spirit of the Lord who fills the world, God's people strive to discern what are true signs in the events, needs, and desires they share with the rest of the people of our time the presence or purpose of God. Faith in fact illuminates everything with a new light, reveals the divine decree with regard to the integral calling of man and therefore directs the mind towards truly humane solutions.

The council intends to judge in this light those values ​​that are particularly valid today and to trace them back to their divine origin.

In so far as these values ​​arise from the God-given human disposition, they are good. As a result of the corruption of the human heart, however, they often lack the necessary final alignment, so that they need purification.

What does the Church think of people?

What recommendations seem appropriate for building today's society?

What is the ultimate meaning of human activity in the whole world?

One expects answers to these questions. From there it will appear more clearly that the people of God and the human race to which they are incorporated are in mutual service, so that the mission of the Church proves to be religious and precisely because of this extremely humane.



12. Man in the image of God

Believers and non-believers alike are almost unanimous in their view that everything on earth is to be assigned to man as its center and climax.

But what is man?

He has presented and presents many different and also contradicting opinions about himself, in which he often either makes himself the highest standard or devalues ​​himself to the point of hopelessness, and is so indecisive and full of fear.

In its own experience of these needs, the Church, instructed by the revelation of God, can give an answer for them in order to outline the true condition of man and to explain his weakness, but at the same time to enable the correct recognition of his dignity and vocation.

Sacred Scripture teaches that man is created "in the image of God", able to know and love his Creator, appointed by him to be Lord over all earthly creatures (1) in order to rule and to rule them in glorification of God use (2).

"What is a person that you think of him? Or the child of a person that you take care of him?

You made him little less than angels, crowned him with honor and glory, and set him over the works of your hands. You put everything under his feet "(Ps 8,5-7).

But God did not create man alone: ​​for from the beginning he created him "male and female" (gene 1.27); their connection creates the first form of personal community.

For man is by virtue of his innermost nature a social being; he can neither live nor develop his talents without relationship to others.

So God saw, as we read again in the scriptures, "everything that he had made and it was very good" (gene 1,31).

13. Sin

Although founded in righteousness by God, man, under the influence of evil, has abused his freedom right from the beginning of history through rebellion against God and the will to achieve his goal outside of God.

"Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, but their foolish hearts were darkened and they served the creatures instead of the Creator" (3).

What we know from the revelation of God is in harmony with experience: when man looks into his heart, he finds himself inclined to evil and entangled in various evils that cannot come from his good Creator.

Often he refuses to acknowledge God as his origin; He thereby also breaks through the owed orientation towards his ultimate goal, but at the same time also his whole order with regard to himself as with regard to other people and the whole of creation.

So man is ambivalent in himself.

Therefore the whole life of the people, the individual as well as the collective, presents itself as a struggle, namely as a dramatic one, between good and evil, between light and darkness.

Yes, man finds himself incapable of fighting the attacks of evil effectively by himself, so that everyone feels as if chained up.

But the Lord himself came to liberate and strengthen man by renewing him inwardly and becoming "the prince of this world" (Joh 12:31) who kept him in bondage to sin (4).

Sin, however, diminishes man himself because it prevents him from attaining his fulfillment. In the light of this revelation, both the sublime calling and the deep misery that humanity experiences find their final explanation.

14. The state of being of man

One in body and soul, man unites the elements of the material world through his physicality: through him they reach the height of their destiny and raise their voices in free praise of the Creator (5).

So man must not disregard physical life; On the contrary, he must regard his body as having been created by God and destined for the resurrection on the last day as good and worthy of honor.

But wounded by sin, he experiences the resistance of his corporeality.

Hence human dignity demands that he glorify God in his body6 and not allow him to serve the evil inclinations of his heart.

But man is not wrong if he affirms his priority over physical things and does not see himself only as part of nature or as an anonymous element in human society, because in his inwardness he exceeds the totality of things.

He goes back to this depth when he enters his heart, where God awaits him, who searches the hearts (7), and where he himself decides his own fate under the eyes of God. If he therefore affirms the spirituality and immortality of his soul, he does not become the victim of a deceptive imagination, which is derived from merely physical and social presuppositions, but on the contrary, he reaches the deep truth of reality.

15. The dignity of reason, truth and wisdom

In participating in the light of the divine spirit, man judges correctly that he dominates the world of things through his reason.

In the tireless application of his intellectual faculties, he has greatly developed the empirical sciences, technology and his intellectual and artistic education in the course of time. In our time, however, he has particularly explored the material world and made himself subservient with unusual success.

But he always sought and found a deeper truth.

Reason is not restricted to mere phenomena, but can reach deeper spiritual structures of reality with true certainty, even if it is partly darkened and weakened as a result of sin. The perfection of the rational nature of the human person, which strives first, is wisdom, which gently draws the human spirit to the search for and love of the true and the good, and leads the person guided by it from the visible to the invisible.

Our time needs this wisdom more than the past centuries, so that what is new is discovered by people more humane. The future fate of the world will be endangered if wiser people do not emerge. It should also be noted that many nations are comparatively poor in economic goods, but richer in wisdom and can provide excellent assistance to the rest.

Thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit, by faith man comes to the knowledge and inner understanding of the mystery of the divine counsel (8).

16. The dignity of the moral conscience

In the heart of his conscience man discovers a law that he does not give himself, but which he must obey and whose voice always calls him to love and to do good and to refrain from evil and, where necessary, in the ears of the heart sounds: Do this, avoid that.

For man has a law which God inscribes in his heart, which it is his dignity to obey and according to which he will be judged (9). The conscience is the most hidden center and the sanctuary in man, where he is alone with God, whose voice can be heard in his innermost being (10).

In the conscience one recognizes in a wonderful way that law which is fulfilled in the love of God and one's neighbor (11). Faithfulness to conscience connects Christians with other people in the search for the truth and for the truthful solution of all the many moral problems that arise in the life of the individual as well as in social coexistence. The more the right conscience asserts itself, the more people and groups abandon blind arbitrariness and seek to be guided by the objective norms of morality. Not infrequently, however, it happens that the conscience errs out of insurmountable ignorance without losing its dignity.

But this cannot be said when a person tries too little to search for truth and good, and when his conscience gradually becomes almost blind as a result of being used to sin.

17. The great importance of freedom

But only freely can man turn to the good.

And our contemporaries value this freedom highly and passionately strive for it. Rightly. Often, however, they represent it in the wrong way, as a right to do anything if only pleases, including evil.

True freedom, however, is a sublime mark of the image of God in man: God wanted to leave man "in the hand of his decision" (12) so that he can seek his Creator of his own choosing and free to full and blessed perfection in unity with God come.

Human dignity therefore requires that he act with conscious and free choice, that is, personally, moved and guided from within and not under a blind inner urge or under mere external compulsion. A person acquires such dignity when he frees himself from all bondage of passions and pursues his goal in free choice of the good, and when he procures the appropriate aids effectively and in strenuous effort. The freedom of man, wounded by sin, can only bring the ordination to God to full effect with the help of the grace of God.

But everyone has to give an account of his own life to God before the judgment seat, just as he himself has done good or bad (13).

18. The secret of death

It is in the face of death that the mystery of human existence becomes greatest.

Man experiences not only the pain and the progressive degradation of the body, but also, yes, even more, the fear of perpetual extinction.

But he judges correctly in the instinct of his heart when he rejects the complete destruction and the ultimate downfall of his person with horror.

The germ of eternity in man cannot be traced back to mere matter and defends itself against death. However, all technical measures, useful as they are, cannot allay human fear. The extension of the biological lifespan cannot satisfy that longing for a further life that lives insurmountably in his heart. While all dreams become null and void before death, the Church, instructed by the revelation of God, confesses that man was created by God for a blessed goal beyond earthly misery. Furthermore, the Christian faith teaches that bodily death, from which man would have been withdrawn had he not sinned (14), will be conquered when man is given back his salvation, which was lost through his guilt, by the almighty and merciful Redeemer. God called and calls man that he should cling to him in the eternal communion of indestructible divine life with his whole being. Christ achieved this victory in his resurrection to life, since he freed man from death through his death (15).

So to everyone who thinks seriously, faith, presented with a sound justification, offers an answer to his fear of the future; and at the same time it shows the possibility of having fellowship in Christ with beloved brothers who have already died in the hope that they have attained true life with God.

19. Forms and roots of atheism

A special characteristic of human dignity lies in his vocation to communion with God.

Man is called to dialogue with God from his origin: he only exists because he, created by God out of love, is always preserved out of love; and he does not live fully according to the truth if he does not freely acknowledge this love and submit to his Creator. However, many of our contemporaries do not grasp this intimate and vital connection with God at all or expressly reject it. So one must count atheism among the most serious facts of this time and examine it most carefully. The word atheism denotes very different phenomena.

Some expressly deny God; others think that a person cannot say anything about him; still others pose the question of God under such methodological conditions that it seems to be senseless from the start. Many exceed the area of ​​competence of empirical sciences and declare that everything is only the subject of such scientific research, or, conversely, they reject any possibility of an absolute truth. Some, it seems, are more interested in the affirmation of man than in the denial of God, but so praise man that their belief in God no longer remains a vital power.

Others form such a picture of God that the structure they reject is by no means the God of the gospel. Others do not even tackle questions about God as they seem to have no experience of religious unrest and see no reason why they should concern themselves with religion. Moreover, atheism not infrequently arises from violent protest against the evil in the world or from the unjustified transfer of the concept of the absolute to certain human values, so that these take the place of God. Today's civilization can often make access to God more difficult, not by its nature, but by its one-sided attention to earthly realities.

Certainly those who, in disobedience to the verdict of their conscience, deliberately keep God away from their hearts and try to avoid religious questions, are not without guilt; but the believers themselves also bear a certain responsibility for this.

For atheism, viewed from all sides, is not an original and independent phenomenon; Rather, it arises from various causes, including the critical reaction against the religions, and in some countries especially against the Christian religion.

That is why believers can play a considerable part in this emergence of atheism, insofar as it must be said that through neglect of religious education, through misleading presentation of doctrine, or through the shortcomings of their religious, moral and social life, they see the true face of God and religion conceal rather than reveal.

20. Systematic atheism

Modern atheism often presents itself in a systematic form, which, besides other causes, drives the striving for human autonomy so far that it creates resistance to any dependence on God. Those who profess this atheism claim that freedom consists in man being himself the goal and the sole designer and creator of his own history. But that, they claim, is incompatible with the recognition of the Lord, the author and goal of all reality, or at least makes such an affirmation completely superfluous.

This teaching can be favored by the experience of power that today's technical progress gives people. Among the forms of present-day atheism, the one that expects the liberation of man above all from his economic and social liberation must not be ignored. He maintains that religion, by its nature, stands in the way of this liberation insofar as it directs man's hope of a future and deceptive life and thereby deterred him from building up earthly society.

That is why the followers of this doctrine, wherever they come to state power, fiercely fight religion and spread atheism, also using, especially in the education of the young, those means of pressure that are available to public authority.

21. The Church's Attitude to Atheism

In fidelity to God as to men, the Church can not help but painfully condemn, like them, those pernicious doctrines and measures which contradict reason and general human experience and alienate man from his innate greatness has also sentenced her so far (16). However, the Church seeks to grasp the reasons for denying God that lie deeper in the atheistic mentality and, aware of the weight of the questions raised by atheism and for the sake of love for all people, believes that these reasons are serious and more thorough need to be checked. The Church insists that the recognition of God in no way contradicts human dignity, since this dignity is based and perfected in God himself. For man was created by the Creator God with reason and freedom as a being of community; But above all, as his child, he is called to actual communion with God and to participate in his own bliss. In addition, the Church teaches that eschatological hope does not diminish the importance of earthly tasks, but that their fulfillment is underpinned by new motives.

If, on the other hand, the divine foundation and the hope for eternal life vanish, the dignity of the human being is severely violated, as is often confirmed today, and the riddles of life and death, guilt and pain remain without solution, so that people not infrequently plunge into despair. For the time being, each person remains an unsolved question to himself that he vaguely senses. Because at certain moments, especially in the more important events in life, no one can completely suppress this question.

Only God can give the full and absolutely certain answer to this question; God who calls man to deeper reflection and more humble searching. The remedy against atheism can only be expected from a situation-appropriate presentation of the doctrine and from the integrity of the church and its members. For it is the task of the Church to make God the Father and his Incarnate Son present and, so to speak, visible, by continually renewing and purifying herself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (17); this is achieved above all through the testimony of a living and mature faith which is so far developed that it is able to see through the difficulties clearly and to overcome them.

The many martyrs gave and still give a shining testimony of this faith.

This faith must show its fruitfulness by permeating the entire life of believers, including the profane, and moving them to justice and love, especially towards the poor.

Finally, the brotherly love of believers makes a particular contribution to the fact that God becomes manifest in his presence, when they work together in unanimous conviction for faith in the Gospel18 and prove themselves to be a sign of unity. Even if the Church clearly rejects atheism, she sincerely confesses that all people, believers and non-believers, must work together to build this world in which they live together. This certainly cannot happen without a sincere and intelligent dialogue. She therefore deplores the discrimination between believers and non-believers, which certain leaders unjustly carry out in disregard for the fundamental rights of the human person. The church demands freedom of action for believers so that they can also build the temple of God in this world. The atheists, however, simply invite them to appreciate the gospel of Christ without prejudice.

For the Church knows very well that her message corresponds to the deepest desire of the human heart when she defends the dignity of the human vocation and gives hope back to those who are already despairing of their higher destiny.

Your message not only does not diminish people, but spreads, in order to promote him, light, life and freedom; and apart from it, nothing can satisfy the human heart: "You have made us toward you", O Lord, "and our heart is restless until it finds rest in you" (19).

22. Christ, the new man

In fact, it is only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word that the mystery of man is truly revealed.

For Adam, the first man, was the model of the future (20), namely Christ the Lord.

Christ, the new Adam, in the revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, makes man himself fully known to man and reveals his highest calling to him.

It is therefore not surprising that the truths just mentioned have their origin in him and reach their climax. The "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1.15) (21) is, he is at the same time the perfect man who restored the sons of Adam in the image of God, which was defaced by the first sin.

Since in him human nature was accepted without being devoured (22), it has already been elevated to a sublime dignity in us.

For he, the Son of God, in his incarnation has, as it were, united with every human being.

He worked with human hands, thought with a human spirit, acted with a human will (23), and loved with a human heart. Born of Mary the Virgin, he was in truth one of us, like us in everything except sin (24). As an innocent sacrificial lamb, he willingly shed his blood and bought us lives. In him God reconciled us to himself and one another (25) and snatched us from the bondage of the devil and sin. So each of us can say with the apostle: The Son of God "loved me and gave himself up for me" (Gal 2.20). Through his suffering for us, he not only set the example for us to follow his footsteps (26), but he also paved the way for us to follow so that life and death are sanctified and given new meaning.

The Christian person, having become conformed to the image of the Son, who is the firstborn among many brothers (27), receives "the firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom 8.23), through which he will be able to fulfill the new law of love (28).

Through this spirit, who is the "pledge of inheritance" (Eph 1:14), the whole person is inwardly renewed until the "redemption of the body" (Rom 8:23): "If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of the spirit dwelling in you" (Rom 8,11) (29).

The Christian also has the necessity and also the duty to struggle against evil through many temptations and also to endure death; but linked to the paschal mystery and shaped like Christ's death, he walks towards the resurrection strengthened by hope (30).

This applies not only to believers in Christ, but to all people of good will, in whose hearts grace works invisibly (31). Since Christ died for all (32) and since there is really only one ultimate vocation of man, the divine one, we must maintain that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the opportunity to be connected to this Paschal mystery in a way known to God .

Such is the nature and greatness of the mystery of man, which through Christian revelation illuminates the believer. Thus, through Christ and in Christ, the riddle of pain and death that overwhelms us outside of his gospel becomes clear. Christ is risen, destroyed death through his death and gave us life (33) so that we, sons in the Son, may cry in the Spirit: Abba, Father! (34)



23. The purpose of the council

One of the characteristic aspects of today's world is the increase in mutual interdependencies among people, to the development of which today's technical progress has made a tremendous contribution.

But the fraternal conversation of men does not find its perfection in these advances, but more fundamentally in that community of people who demand mutual respect for the spiritual dignity that is comprehended on all sides. Christian revelation offers a great help in promoting this communion of persons; at the same time it leads us to a deeper understanding of the laws of social life which the Creator inscribed in the spiritual and moral nature of man.

Since more recent documents of the ecclesiastical magisterium have now set out the Christian doctrine on human society in detail (1), the council only recalls a few main truths and presents their foundations in the light of revelation.

Following this, it emphasizes some inferences that are of heightened importance in our day.

24. The communal character of human calling in the counsel of God

God, who takes care of all in a fatherly way, wanted all people to form a family and meet one another in a brotherly spirit. All are made in the image of God, who "made all peoples emerge from one who inhabit the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26), and all are called to one and the same goal, that is, to God himself. Therefore, love of God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment. We are taught by the Holy Scriptures that love for God cannot be separated from love for one's neighbor: "... and if there is another commandment, this word includes it: You should love your neighbor as yourself itself ... Accordingly, love is the fullness of the law "(Rom 13,9-10; 1 Joh 4,20).

Obviously, this is of paramount importance for people who are becoming more and more interdependent and for a world that is becoming more and more one. Yes, when the Lord Jesus prays to the Father "that all may be one ... as we are also one" (Joh 17: 20-22), and thus opening up horizons that are inaccessible to human reason, he suggests a certain similarity between the unity of the divine persons and the unity of the children of God in truth and love.

This comparison makes it clear that man, who is the only creature on earth willed by God for its own sake, can only find himself perfect through sincere self-surrender (2).

25. The interdependence of the human person and human society

From the social nature of man it follows that the progress of the human person and the growth of society as such are mutually dependent.

The root cause, the bearer and goal of all social institutions is and must also be the human person, who by their very nature absolutely needs social life (3).

Since social life is not something that has to be added externally for man, man grows according to all his abilities and can correspond to his vocation through encounter with others, through mutual servitude and through dialogue with the brothers. Among the social ties that are necessary for man's development, some, like the family and the political community, are more directly related to his innermost being; others, on the other hand, arise from his free choice.

In our present time the mutual interdependencies and interdependencies are constantly increasing for various reasons, and thus manifold connections and institutions under public or private law arise.

Although this process, which is called "socialization", is certainly not without its dangers, it has many advantages for the consolidation and promotion of the characteristics of the human person and for the protection of their rights (4). Even if the human person owes a great deal to social life for the fulfillment of his vocation, including the religious one, it cannot be denied that people from the social conditions in which they live and in which they have been trapped from childhood, often distracted from doing good and driven to evil.

The disturbances that so frequently occur in the social order certainly stem in part from the tension in the economic, political and social structures themselves.

But their deeper roots are pride and selfishness of the people, which also spoil the social milieu. But once the objective conditions themselves are affected by the effects of sin, the person born with an inclination to evil finds new impulses to sin, which can only be overcome through strenuous effort with the help of grace.

26. The promotion of the common good

As a result of the ever closer interdependence, which gradually encompasses the whole world, the common good, that is, the totality of those conditions of social life which enable both groups and their individual members to achieve their own perfection more fully and easily, is today is becoming more and more global in scope and therefore also includes rights and obligations that affect all of humanity.

Each group must take into account the needs and legitimate claims of other groups, indeed the common good of the whole human family (5). At the same time, there is also a growing awareness of the sublime dignity that the human person deserves, since it towers above the whole world of things and is the bearer of universally valid and inviolable rights and duties. So everything must be made available to man that he needs for a real human life, such as food, clothing and housing, then the right to a free choice of the status of life and to start a family, to education, work, good reputation, honor and to appropriate information; furthermore the right to act according to the right norm of his conscience, the right to the protection of his private sphere and the right to right freedom also in religious matters.

The social order and its development must always be oriented towards the well-being of the people; for the order of things must serve the order of people and not the other way around. This is what the Lord himself indicated when he said that the Sabbath was there for man's sake, not man for the Sabbath's sake (6). The social order must continuously develop, must be founded in truth, built up in justice and inspired by love, and must find an ever more humane balance in freedom (7).

To achieve this, a change of attitude and far-reaching changes in society itself are necessary. The Spirit of God, whose wonderful providence guides the course of time and renews the face of the earth, assists this development.

The leaven of the Gospel has awakened and continues to awaken the indomitable claim to dignity in the human heart.

27. Respect for the human person

Moving on to practical and more urgent conclusions, the Council wants to inculcate respect for human beings: all without exception must regard their neighbor as a "different I", above all with an eye to his life and the necessary requirements for a life with dignity (8). Otherwise they are like the rich man who did not care about poor Lazarus at all (9). Today, especially, we are urgently obliged to make ourselves the neighbor of every person and to actively help him wherever we meet, whether it is an old, abandoned person or a foreign worker who is unjustly disregarded We encountered a displaced person or an illegitimate child suffering undeservedly for a sin he did not commit, or a starving person who awakens our conscience by remembering the word of the Lord: "What you are one of the least of these my brothers did, you did to me "(Mt 25.40).What is further in opposition to life itself, like any kind of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and also voluntary suicide; whatever violates the sanctity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical or emotional torture, and the attempt to use psychological coercion; whatever attacks human dignity, such as inhuman living conditions, arbitrary arrest, kidnapping, slavery, prostitution, girl trafficking and trafficking in young people, then also unworthy working conditions in which the worker is treated as a mere means of income and not as a free and responsible person: all of these and other similar acts are in themselves a shame; they are a decomposition of human culture, degrading those who do injustice far more than those who suffer it. At the same time, they are in the highest degree a contradiction to the honor of the Creator.

28. Respect and love for the opponent

Respect and love are also to be granted to those who think or act differently than we do on social, political or even religious issues. The more we develop an inner understanding for their thinking in humanity and love, the easier it will be for us to get into conversation with them.

But this love and goodness must by no means make us indifferent to truth and goodness. Rather, love itself urges Christ's disciples to proclaim the truth of salvation to all people. One must, however, distinguish between the error, which must always be rejected, and the erring person, who always retains his dignity as a person, even if he is burdened with false or less correct religious views (10).

God alone is the judge and examiner of hearts; therefore he forbids us to judge anyone's internal guilt (11). Christ's teaching also calls for the offense to be forgiven; It extends the commandment of love as the commandment of the New Covenant to all enemies: "You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you: Love your enemies, do good to them hate you and pray for your persecutors and slanderer "(Mt 5,43-44)12.

29. The essential equality of all people and social justice

Since all men have a spiritual soul and are created according to God's image, since they have the same nature and the same origin, since they, as redeemed by Christ, enjoy the same divine calling and purpose, therefore the fundamental equality of all men must increasingly be recognized to be brought.

Certainly not all people are on the same level as far as the various physical abilities and the various spiritual and moral powers are concerned. But every form of discrimination in the basic social and cultural rights of the person, be it on the basis of sex or race, color, social position, language or religion, must be overcome and eliminated, since it contradicts God's plan.

It is a deplorable fact that those fundamental rights of the person are still not inviolable everywhere; if, for example, the woman is denied the right to freely choose her husband and the state of life or the same level of educational opportunities and culture as is granted to the man.

Furthermore, although there are justified differences between people, equality of personal dignity demands that we come to more humane and equitable living conditions.

Excessive economic and social inequalities between the members or peoples in the one human family cause offense; they contradict social justice, equity, human dignity and social and international peace.

Private and public human institutions should endeavor to serve the dignity and purpose of human beings by resolutely combating any social or political enslavement and ensuring that human rights are respected under every political regime.

Indeed, institutions of this kind must gradually find a corresponding relationship to the actual spiritual values ​​which are of the highest rank, even if sometimes a fairly long time will be necessary to achieve the desired goal.

30. One must go beyond individualistic ethics

The profound and rapid change in conditions makes the demand with particular urgency that no one should remain attached to a purely individualistic ethic through lack of attention to developments or through weary indolence. The duty of justice and love is fulfilled more and more precisely by the fact that everyone contributes to the common good according to his own abilities and the needs of his fellow human beings and also promotes and supports the public or private institutions that serve to improve human living conditions. But there are also those who, although they have generous and generous opinions on their lips, in reality always live as if they did not need to take care of the needs of society; indeed, in various countries not a few observe the social laws and regulations in such a way well as not at all.

Many are not afraid to evade fair taxes or other services owed by society through fraud and stealth. Others have little respect for certain rules of social life, e.g. for those that were set up to protect health or to regulate traffic, and do not take into account that this negligence endangers their own life and that of others. It is a sacred law for all to include the demands of social interdependence among the main duties of today's man and to observe them as such.

The more the world grows together, the more obviously the tasks of people reach beyond the special groups and gradually acquire a meaning for the world as a whole.

This will only have an effect if the individuals and their groups cultivate the moral and social virtues in themselves and bring them to bear in society; then, with the necessary help of divine grace, they truly become new people and builders of a new humanity.

31. Responsibility and participation

In order for individual people to more accurately fulfill their conscientious obligation both towards themselves and towards the various groups of which they are members, care must be taken to use the rich aids available to mankind to develop a more comprehensive culture of the inner man raising. Above all, the upbringing of young people of all social origins must be designed in such a way that men and women who are not only well educated intellectually, but also have that generous character, become people that our time urgently demands. But man hardly comes to this sense of responsibility if the living conditions do not allow him to experience his dignity and to fulfill his vocation by giving himself up to God and his neighbor.

Human freedom is often restricted when man lives in extreme poverty, just as it degenerates the other way round, when man makes life too comfortable and entrenched himself in a "solitary autocracy". Conversely, it gains strength when man takes on the inevitable necessities of social life, affirms the multiple demands of human coexistence and knows he is committed to serving the human community. In all of them, therefore, the will to participate in common works must be awakened. The actions of those nations in which the largest possible number of citizens participate in the community with genuine freedom deserves recognition.

However, the specific situation of each individual people and the necessary strength of public authority must be taken into account. In order for all citizens to be ready to participate in the life of the various groups of society, they must also find values ​​in these groups that attract them and make them willing to serve others. We can rightly assume that the future fate of humanity rests in the hands of those who can impart the driving forces of life and hope to the coming generations.

32. The Incarnate Word and Human Solidarity

Just as God created people not for a life in isolation, but for union in social unity, he was just as pleased "not to sanctify and save people individually, regardless of any mutual connection, but to make them a people make that recognize him in truth and serve him in holiness "(13). Since the beginning of salvation history, he has chosen people not only as individuals, but as members of a particular community. For those elect, to whom God revealed his saving counsel, he called "his people" (Ex 3.7-12); with him he then concluded the Sinaibund (14).

This community character is completed and fulfilled in the work of Jesus Christ.

As a word made flesh, he himself wanted to enter into the human community.

He attended a wedding in Cana, he went to Zacchaeus' house and ate with tax collectors and sinners.

With references to the most common social conditions and with idioms and images from everyday life, he revealed the love of the father and the high calling of the people.

He sanctified the human, especially the family ties, the beginning of society in general; he was voluntarily subject to the laws of his homeland; he wanted to live the life of a worker as it was time and country. In his preaching he commanded the children of God to be like brothers and sisters, and in his prayer he asked that all his disciples be one.

As the Redeemer of all, he gave himself up for all until death. "Nobody has a greater love than someone who gives his life for his friends" (Joh 15,13).

He commanded the apostles to proclaim the good news to all peoples, so that humanity might become the family of God, in which love should be the fulness of the law. Firstborn among many brothers, after his death and resurrection he established a new fraternal community in his body, the church, in which all are members of one another and among all who accept him in faith and love, through the gift of his spirit to serve one another according to the diversity of the gifts received. This solidarity must grow steadily until that day when it will be completed and those who have been saved by grace will fully glorify God as a family loved by God and Christ, their brother.



33. The problem

Man has always tried to develop his life richer through work and spiritual strength. Today, however, especially with the means of science and technology, he has extended his dominion over almost all of nature and is constantly expanding it. It is primarily thanks to the increasing variety of relationships between peoples that the human family is gradually experiencing and shaping itself as a community encompassing the whole world. The consequence of all this is that today man procures many goods which he once expected primarily from higher powers through his own deeds.

In the face of this immense undertaking, which already encompasses all of humanity, people ask themselves many questions: What is the point and value of this strenuous activity?

How are all these goods to be used? What is the goal of this individual and collective effort?

The Church guards the Word of God deposited with her, from which the principles of religious and moral order are derived, even if she does not always have ready answers to all individual questions; and so it is their desire to bring the light of revelation into contact with the skill of all men, that the path which mankind has recently taken may be illuminated.

34. The value of human creation

One thing is certain for believers: the personal and common human work, this tremendous endeavor of people over the centuries to constantly improve their living conditions, corresponds as such to God's intention.

Man created in God's image has received the commission to submit the earth with everything that belongs to it, to rule the world in justice and holiness (1) and through the recognition of God as the creator of all things himself and to assign the totality of reality to God, so that everything is subject to man and God's name is wonderful on the whole earth (2).

This also applies to ordinary everyday activities; For men and women who, for example when earning a living for themselves and their families, exercise their activity in such a way that it is a corresponding service to the community, can be convinced that they are further developing the work of the Creator through their work care for the welfare of their brethren and contribute through their personal effort to the historical fulfillment of the divine plan (3). Christians are therefore far from believing that the works created by man's spirit and power are in opposition to God's power or that the creature endowed with reason stands, so to speak, as a rival to the Creator. On the contrary, they are convinced that the victories of mankind are a sign of God's greatness and the fruit of his unfathomable counsel. But the more people's power grows, the more their responsibilities expand, both for individuals and communities.

From this it becomes clear that the Christian message does not distract people from the construction of the world or drive them to neglect the welfare of their fellow men, but rather obliges them more strictly to cope with these tasks (4).

35. The order of human creation

Just as human creation emerges from human beings, it is also related to human beings.

Through his work, man not only transforms things and society, he also perfects himself. He learns a lot, develops his skills, exceeds himself and grows above himself.

Growth of this kind, correctly understood, is worth more than accumulated external wealth. Man's worth lies more in himself than in his possession (5).

Likewise, everything that people do to achieve greater justice, a more comprehensive brotherhood and a more humane order of social interrelationships is more valuable than technical progress. This technical progress can in a certain sense provide the basis for human advancement; he will by no means realize the ascent itself on his own.

The guideline for human creation is, therefore, that it accords with the real good of mankind in accordance with the plan and will of God and that it allow man as an individual and as a member of society to fulfill his entire calling and fulfill it.

36. The correct autonomy of earthly realities

Now many of our contemporaries seem to fear that a closer connection between human creativity and religion will threaten the autonomy of man, society and the sciences.

If we understand by the autonomy of earthly realities that created things and also societies have their own laws and values, which man must gradually recognize, use and shape, then it is entirely justified to demand this autonomy. This is not only a requirement of the people of our time, but also corresponds to the will of the Creator.

Because of their own creation, all individual realities have their own fixed status, their own truth, their own goodness as well as their own legality and their own order, which man must respect while recognizing the method peculiar to the individual sciences and techniques.

Provided that methodological research in all fields of knowledge proceeds in a genuinely scientific manner and according to the norms of morality, it will never come into real conflict with faith, because the realities of the profane realm and those of faith originate in the same God (6).

Yes, whoever modestly and persistently tries to research the secrets of reality will be guided by the hand of God, even if he is not aware of it, who carries all reality and uses it in his own being.

Therefore, certain attitudes that once occurred among Christians because of an inadequate understanding of the legitimate autonomy of science are to be regretted. Through the disputes and disputes that this sparked, they created a conviction in the mentality of many that there was a contradiction between faith and science (7).

But if the words "autonomy of temporal things" mean that created things do not depend on God and man can use them without reference to the Creator, then everyone who recognizes God will feel how wrong such a view is.

Because the creature sinks into nothing without the Creator.

In addition, all believers, regardless of which religion they belong, have always heard the voice and expression of God through the language of the creatures.

Moreover, forgetting God makes the creature itself incomprehensible.

37. Human creation corrupted by sin

But the Holy Scriptures, to which experience of all ages agrees, teaches the human family that human progress, which is a great good for man, also brings with it a great temptation:

Because the order of values ​​is distorted and bad is mixed with good, individual people and groups only pay attention to what is due to them, but not to what is due to others. Therefore the world is no longer the space of true brotherhood, but the increased power of humanity threatens it itself with destruction.

Throughout the history of mankind there is a hard fight against the forces of darkness, a fight that began at the beginning of the world and, according to the word of the Lord (8), will last until the last day.

The individual man, drawn into this dispute, must constantly fight for his decision for the good, and only with great effort can he achieve his own inner unity with God's help of grace. Therefore, although the Church of Christ, while trusting in the Creator's plan, recognizes that human progress can serve the true happiness of men, it cannot refrain from inculcating the apostle's words: "Do not conform to this world" (Rom 12: 2), that is, the spirit of empty pride and malice, which turns human work, which is ordered to the service of God and man, into an instrument of sin.

Before the question of how this misery can be overcome, Christians confess that all human activity, which is daily endangered by pride and disorderly self-love, must be purified and brought to completion through Christ's cross and resurrection.

As redeemed by Christ and made a new creature in the Holy Spirit, man can and must love things created by God.

He receives them from God, he regards them and values ​​them as gifts from God's hand.

He thanks his benefactor for the gifts; in poverty and freedom of spirit he uses and enjoys what is created; thus he comes into the true possession of the world as one who has nothing and yet possesses everything9. "Everything belongs to you, but you belong to Christ and Christ to God" (1 Cor 3,22-23).

38. Human creation brought to perfection in the paschal mystery

The Word of God, through which everything came into being, became itself flesh and, living on the earth of men (10), entered the history of the world as a real man, made it his own and summarized it in himself (11) . He reveals to us "that God is love" (Gen. Joh 4,8), and at the same time teaches us that the basic law of human perfection and therefore also of the transformation of the world is the new commandment of love.

He gives those who believe in divine love the security that the path of love is open to all people and that the attempt to establish an all-embracing brotherhood is not in vain.

At the same time he warns not only to strive for this love in great things, but also and especially in ordinary living conditions.

For all of us sinners he took death upon himself (12) and thus teaches us by his example that the cross must also be carried, that the flesh and the world lay on the shoulders of those who seek peace and justice. Appointed to be the Lord through his resurrection, Christ, to whom all authority in heaven and on earth has been given (13), already works through the power of his spirit in the hearts of men by not only awakening in them the desire for the world to come , but precisely by doing this it also enlivens, purifies and strengthens those selfless strivings through which the human family strives to shape their own life more humanely and to make the whole earth serve this goal.

However, the gifts of the Spirit are different: some he calls so that they clearly testify to the desire for home with God and keep it alive in the human family; He calls others so that they can devotedly serve people in the earthly realm and so create the prerequisites for the kingdom of heaven through their profession. But he frees everyone so that, by rejecting their egoism and making use of all natural forces for human life, they strive for that future in which humanity itself becomes a sacrifice that is pleasing to God (14).

The Lord left a deposit of this hope and food for the journey to his followers in that sacrament of faith, in which the fruits of nature grown under the care of man are transformed into the body and blood of the glorified Lord for the Lord's Supper for brotherly communion and as a preliminary celebration of the heavenly banquet .

39. The new earth and the new heaven

We do not know when the earth and mankind will be completed (15), nor do we know the way in which the universe is to be transformed. It is true that the shape of this world, which is deformed by sin, disappears (16), but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling and a new earth on which righteousness dwells (17), whose happiness every longing for peace is in fills and exceeds the hearts of men (18).

Death will be conquered, the children of God will be raised in Christ, and what is sown in weakness and corruption will be clothed in incorruptibility (19). Love will remain like what it once did (20), and all creation that God created for man's sake will be freed from the bondage of impermanence (21).

We are admonished that it is of no use to man if he wins the whole world, but brings himself to ruin (22); nevertheless, the expectation of the new earth must not weaken the concern for the shaping of this earth, on which the growing body of the new human family can give us an outline idea of ​​the world to come, but must on the contrary encourage it.

Although earthly progress can be clearly distinguished from the growth of the kingdom of Christ, it is of great importance for the kingdom of God insofar as it can contribute to a better order in human society (23). That is, all the good products of nature and our endeavors, the goods of human dignity, fraternal communion and freedom, must be increased on earth in the spirit of the Lord and according to his commandment; then we will find it again, cleansed of every blemish, full of light and transfigured, namely when Christ is given to the Father "an eternal, all-embracing kingdom: the kingdom of truth and life, the kingdom of holiness and grace, the kingdom of Justice, love and peace "(24).

Here on earth the kingdom is already there in mystery; at the coming of the Lord it reaches its consummation.



40. The mutual relationship between the Church and the world

Everything we have said about the dignity of the human person, human community and the ultimate meaning of human creation forms the foundation of the relationship between the Church and the world as well as the basis of their mutual dialogue (1).

Given all the previous statements of this council about the mystery of the church, it is now to be presented insofar as it exists precisely in this world and lives and works with it.

Proceeding from the love of the Eternal Father (2), founded in time by Christ the Redeemer, united in the Holy Spirit (3), the church has end-time salvation as its goal, which can only be fully realized in the future world. But it is already present here on earth, gathered from people, members of the earthly community, who are called to form the family of God's children already in this historical time of mankind, which is to grow steadily until the coming of the Lord. United for the sake of heavenly goods and filled by them, this family of Christ is "composed and organized in this world as a society" (4) and "equipped with suitable means of visible and social unity" (5). So this church, at the same time "visible assembly and spiritual community" (6), goes the way together with all humanity and experiences the same earthly fate with the world and is, so to speak, the leaven and the soul of those to be renewed in Christ and in the God's family to reshape human society (7). This intertwining of earthly and heavenly communities can only be grasped by faith; indeed it remains a mystery of human history, which is confused by sin up to the full revelation of the glory of the children of God.

In pursuit of her own salvation purpose, the Church not only conveys divine life to people, but lets its reflection fall more or less on the whole world, above all through the healing and elevation of human personal dignity, through the consolidation of the human community, through fulfillment of everyday human work with deeper meaning and meaning. In this way the Church believes, through its individual members and as a whole, that it can contribute much to a more humane shaping of the human family and its history.

In addition, the Catholic Church unabashedly values ​​everything that the other Christian churches and ecclesial communities have contributed and are still contributing to the fulfillment of the same task.

At the same time she is firmly convinced that she herself can receive many and varied help in preparing the way for the Gospel from the world, be it from individual people, be it from human society. Some more general principles are presented here to properly promote this mutual relationship and assistance in that area which the Church and the world have in common.

41. The help that the Church would like to give to the individual

Today's person is on the way to a fuller development of his personality and to an ever deeper insight and assertion of his rights. But since it is entrusted to the Church to make the mystery of God, the ultimate goal of human beings, evident, it at the same time opens up to human beings an understanding of their own existence, that is, the ultimate truth about human beings.

The Church knows very well that God, whom she serves, is the only answer to the deepest yearning of the human heart, which can never be fully satisfied with the gifts of the earth.

It also knows that, under the constant drive of the Spirit of God, man can never be completely indifferent to the problem of religion, as not only the experience of so many past centuries, but also the diverse testimony of our time shows.

Because man will always have at least a vague desire to know what the meaning of his life, his work and his death is. The very existence of the Church as such reminds him of these problems. God alone, who created man in his own image and redeemed man from sin, gives the exhaustive answer to these questions in his revelation in his Son, who became man.

Those who follow Christ, the perfect human being, also become more human.

Based on this belief, the church is able to withdraw the dignity of the human being from all fluctuations of opinion which, for example, devalue the human body too much or elevate it beyond the right measure.

No human law can protect the personal dignity and freedom of man as effectively as the gospel of Christ entrusted to the Church.

This good news proclaims and proclaims the freedom of the children of God; it rejects any form of bondage that ultimately stems from sin (8); it carefully respects the dignity of conscience and its free choice; ceaselessly urges them to let all human talents bear fruit in the service of God and for the good of man; She finally recommends all to the love of all (9).

This corresponds to the fundamental law of the Christian order of salvation.

Even if the same God is Creator and Redeemer, Lord of secular history and salvation history, in this divine order the correct autonomy of creation and especially of human beings is not only not abolished, but rather set up in their own dignity and strengthened in it.

Thus, by virtue of the gospel entrusted to her, the Church proclaims the rights of man, and she recognizes and values ​​the dynamism of the present which promotes these rights everywhere.

Of course, this movement must be filled with the spirit of the Gospel and protected against any kind of false autonomy.

We are tempted to consider our personal rights to be fully respected only if we are free of every norm of divine law.

In this way, however, the dignity of the human person is rather lost instead of being preserved.

42. The help that the Church wishes to bring to human community

The unity of the human family is in many ways strengthened and fulfilled through the unity of the family of God's children, established in Christ (10). The mission that Christ has given her to the Church does not relate to the political, economic or social sphere: the goal that Christ has set for her belongs to the religious order (11).

But from this religious mission, mandate, light and power flow to help the human community to build up and consolidate according to divine law.

Indeed, where necessary, it can and must, depending on the circumstances of the time and place, initiate works for the service of everyone, especially the poor, such as B. Works of mercy or other such works.

The Church continues to recognize what is good in today's social dynamic, especially the development towards unity, the process of healthy socialization and socialization in the civil and economic sphere. The promotion of unity is connected with the ultimate mission of the Church, since it is "in Christ, as it were, the sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument for the most intimate union with God and for the unity of all humanity" (12). In this way she shows the world that true unity in the external social sphere arises from a unity of minds and hearts, namely from that faith and that love on which their indissoluble unity rests in the Holy Spirit.