Guest post by Peter Hinners.
Through the centuries the Roman Catholic Church has periodically convened in councils, the first in AD 325 in Nicaea, and the last from 1962 to 1965 in Rome. This last council – the Second Vatican Council – has so influenced the modern Roman Catholic Church that its effects are still very much felt today.
One of the recurring themes that runs throughout the documents produced by this council is “the Gospel’s message that the human race was to become the Family of God” (Gaudium et Spes 32).
These documents are unabashedly hopeful and universal in their breadth: “The Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and ‘serve Him shoulder to shoulder’ (Zeph. 3:9)” (Nostra Aetate 4).
And again: “To Him all things are made subject until He subjects Himself and all created things to the Father that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:27)” (Lumen Gentium 36).
The Documents of Vatican II
Excerpts compiled by Peter Hinners
We take great pleasure in sending to all men and nations a message concerning that well-being, love, and peace which were brought into the world by Christ Jesus, the Son of the living God…
(Message to Humanity – The Fathers of the Council to All Men, page 13)
We believe that the Father so loved the world that He gave His own Son to save it. Indeed, through this same Son of His He freed us from bondage to sin, reconciling all things unto Himself through Him, “making peace through the blood of his cross” so that “we might be called sons of God, and truly be such.”
(Message to Humanity – God so Loved the World, page 14)
There is no one who does not hate war, no one who does not strive for peace with burning desire. But the Church desires it most of all, because she is the Mother of all… We are giving witness that all men are brothers, whatever their race or nation.
(Message to Humanity – Two Issues of Special Urgency Confront Us, page 15)
Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission… So that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.
(Lumen Gentium – 1)
The eternal Father, by a free and hidden plan of His own wisdom and goodness, created the whole world. His plan was to raise men to a participation of the divine life. Fallen in Adam, God the Father did not leave men to themselves, but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation, in view of Christ, the Redeemer “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15). All the elect, before time began, the Father “foreknew and predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).
(Lumen Gentium – 2)
… for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things (cf. Eph. 1:4-5 and 10).
The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus (cf. John 19:34), and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself” (John 12:32).
All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.
(Lumen Gentium 3)
The Word of the Lord is compared to a seed which is sown in a field (Mark 4:14); those who hear the Word with faith and become part of the little flock of Christ (Luke 12:32), have received the Kingdom itself. Then, by its own power the seed sprouts and grows until harvest time (cf. Mark 4:26-29)…
When Jesus, who had suffered the death of the cross for mankind, had risen, He appeared as the one constituted as Lord, Christ and eternal Priest (cf. Acts 2:36; Heb. 5:6, 7:17-21), and He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father (cf. Acts 2:33). From this source the Church, equipped with the gifts of its Founder and faithfully guarding His precepts of charity, humility and self-sacrifice, receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all people the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom…
(Lumen Gentium 5)
The Church is a piece of land to be cultivated, the tillage of God (1 Cor. 3:9). On that land the ancient olive tree grows whose holy roots were the Prophets and in which the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles has been brought about and will be brought about (Rom. 11:13-26)…
John contemplates this holy city coming down from heaven at the renewal of the world…
(Lumen Gentium 6)
In the human nature united to Himself the Son of God, by overcoming death through His own death and resurrection, redeemed man and re-molded him into a new creation (cf. Gal. 6:15; 2 Cor. 5:17)…
The Head of the Body is Christ. He is the image of the invisible God and in Him all things came into being. He is before all creatures and in Him all things hold together.
(Lumen Gentium 7)
Christ was sent by the Father “to bring good news to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart” (Luke 4:18), “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
(Lumen Gentium 8)
All these things, however, were done by way of preparation and as a figure of that new and perfect covenant, which was to be ratified in Christ, and of that fuller revelation which was to be given through the Word of God Himself made flesh. “Behold the days shall come saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah… I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people… For all of them shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord” (Jer. 31:31-34). Christ instituted this new covenant, the new testament, that is to say, in His Blood, calling together a people made up of Jew and gentile, making them one…
Its end is the kingdom of God, which has been begun by God Himself on earth, and which is to be further extended until it is brought to perfection by Him at the end of time, when Christ, our life (cf. Col. 3:4), shall appear, and “creation itself will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:21). So it is that that messianic people, although it does not actually include all men, and at times my look like a small flock, is nonetheless a lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race. Established by Christ as a communion of life, charity and truth, it is also used by Him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16)
(Lumen Gentium 9)
All men are called to belong to the new people of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God’s will may be fulfilled. In the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all His children, scattered as they were, would finally be gathered together as one (John 11:52). It was for this purpose that God sent His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things (Heb. 1:2) that He might be teacher, king and priest of all, the head of the new and universal people of the sons of God.
The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance (Ps. 2:8)…
This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source in Christ, with Him as its head and united in His Spirit.
All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation.
(Lumen Gentium 13)
Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things (Acts 17:25-28), and as Saviour wills that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life.
(Lumen Gentium 16)
For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God’s plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world.
In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe.
(Lumen Gentium 17)
… Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd…
(Lumen Gentium 18)
As having one day to render an account for their souls (Heb. 13:17), he takes care of them by his prayer, preaching, and all the works of charity, and not only of them but also of those who are not yet of the one flock…
(Lumen Gentium 27)
…the only sacrifice of the New Testament namely that of Christ offering Himself once for all a spotless Victim to the Father (Heb 9:11-28).
Because the human race today is joining more and more into a civic, economic and social unity, it is that much the more necessary that priests, by combined effort and aid, under the leadership of the bishops and the Supreme Pontiff, wipe out every kind of separateness, so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of the family of God.
(Lumen Gentium 28)
Therefore, from divine choice the laity have Christ for their brother who though He is the Lord of all, came not to be served but to serve (Matt. 20:28)
(Lumen Gentium 32)
Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land.
(Lumen Gentium 33)
To Him all things are made subject until He subjects Himself and all created things to the Father that God may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:27).
In this kingdom creation itself will be delivered from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God (Rom. 8:21).
The faithful, therefore, must learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation, as well as its role in the harmonious praise of God.
In this manner, through the members of the Church, will Christ progressively illumine the whole of human society with His saving light.
(Lumen Gentium 36)
Let them follow the example of Christ, who by His obedience even unto death, opened to all men the blessed way of the liberty of the children of God.
In this way, the whole Church, strengthened by each one of its members, may more effectively fulfill its mission for the life of the world.
(Lumen Gentium 37)
Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul…
(Lumen Gentium 40)
…the eternal high Priest, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls.
… the very Christ who plied His hands with carpenter’s tools and Who in union with His Father, is continually working for the salvation of all men.
… they are united with the suffering of Christ in a special way for the salvation of the world.
(Lumen Gentium 41)
The Church, to which we are all called in Christ Jesus, and in which we acquire sanctity through the grace of God, will attain its full perfection only in the glory of heaven, when there will come the time of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). At that time the human race as well as the entire world, which is intimately related to man and attains to its end through him, will be perfectly re-established in Christ (Eph. 1:10, Col. 1:20, 2 Pet. 3:10-13)
Christ, having been lifted up from the earth has drawn all to Himself (John 12:32).
Therefore the promised restoration which we are awaiting has already begun in Christ…
Already the final age of the world has come upon us (1 Cor. 10:11) and the renovation of the world is irrevocably decreed and is already anticipated in some kind of a real way; for the Church already on this earth is signed with a sanctity which is real although imperfect. However, until there shall be new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells (2 Pet. 3:13), the pilgrim Church in her sacraments and institutions, which pertain to this present time, has the appearance of this world which is passing and she herself dwells among creatures who groan and travail in pain until now and await the revelation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22).
(Lumen Gentium 48)
Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him (Matt. 25:31) and death being destroyed, all things are subject to Him (1 Cor. 15:26-27).
(Lumen Gentium 49)
Fully conscious of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the pilgrim Church from the very first ages of the Christian religion has cultivated with great piety the memory of the dead, and “because it is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins” (2 Macc. 12:46), also offers suffrages for them.
Then, with combined rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine majesty; then all those from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (Rev. 5:9) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and gathered together into one Church, with one song of praise magnify the one and triune God.
(Lumen Gentium 50)
This Sacred Council accepts with great devotion this venerable faith of our ancestors regarding this vital fellowship with our brethren who are in heavenly glory or who having died are still being purified…
(Lumen Gentium 51)
Wishing in His supreme goodness and wisdom to effect the redemption of the world, “when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, … that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5). “He for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit from the Virgin Mary.”
(Lumen Gentium 52)
The books of the Old Testament describe the history of salvation…
When it is looked at in this way, she is already prophetically foreshadowed in the promise of victory over the serpent which was given to our first parents after their fall into sin (Gen. 3:15).
… the Son of God took a human nature from her, that He might in the mysteries of His flesh free man from sin.
(Lumen Gentium 55)
The Father of mercies willed that the incarnation should be preceded by the acceptance of her who was predestined to be the mother of His Son, so that just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life. That is true in outstanding fashion of the mother of Jesus, who gave to the world Him who is Life itself and who renews all things…
Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. For, as St. Irenaeus says, she “being obedient, became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race”.
(Lumen Gentium 56)
But since it has pleased God not to manifest solemnly the mystery of the salvation of the human race before He would pour forth the Spirit promised by Christ…
… that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) and the conqueror of sin and death.
(Lumen Gentium 59)
There is but one Mediator as we know from the words of the apostle, “for there is one God and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a redemption for all” (1 Tim. 2:4-6)
(Lumen Gentium 60)
… the Son, through whom all things have their being…
(Lumen Gentium 66)
… until all families of people, whether they are honored with the title of Christian or whether they still do not know the Savior, may be happily gathered together in peace and harmony into one people of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.
(Lumen Gentium 69)
…so that by hearing the message of salvation the whole world may believe, by believing it may hope, and by hoping it may love.
(Dei Verbum 1)
In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (Eph. 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (Eph. 2:18, 2 Pet. 1:4). Through this revelation, therefore, the invisible God out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends (Exod. 33:11, John 15:14-15) and lives among them (Bar. 3:38)…
By this revelation then, the deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ…
(Dei Verbum 2)
Then after their fall His promise of redemption aroused in them the hope of being saved (Gen. 3:15) and from that time on He ceaselessly kept the human race in His care…
(Dei Verbum 3)
For He sent his Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men…
He “speaks the words of God” (John 3:34) and completes the work of salvation which His Father gave Him to do (John 5:36, John 17:4).
Moreover He confirmed with divine testimony what revelation proclaimed, that God is with us to free us from the darkness of sin and death, and to raise us up to life eternal.
(Dei Verbum 4)
Through divine revelation, God chose to show forth and communicate Himself and the eternal decisions of His will regarding the salvation of men.
…God, the beginning and end of all things…
(Dei Verbum 6)
In His gracious goodness, God has seen to it that what He had revealed for the salvation of all nations would abide perpetually in its full integrity and be handed on to all generations.
(Dei Verbum 7)
In carefully planning and preparing the salvation of the whole human race the God of infinite love…
The plan of salvation foretold by the sacred authors, recounted and explained by them, is found as the true word of God in the books of the Old Testament…
(Dei Verbum 14)
…Christ, the redeemer of all…
(Dei Verbum 15)
Christ established the kingdom of God on earth, manifested His Father and Himself by deeds and words, and completed His work by His death, resurrection and glorious Ascension and by the sending of the Holy Spirit. Having been lifted up from the earth, He draws all men to Himself (John 12:32)…
(Dei Verbum 17)
For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them…
(Dei Verbum 21)
This sacred Council [desires]… to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 1)
The liturgy… marvelously strengthens their power to preach Christ, and thus shows forth the Church to those who are outside as a sign lifted up among the nations under which the scattered children of God may be gathered together, until there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 2)
God who “wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4) “who in many and various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1), when the fullness of time had come sent His Son, the Word made flesh, anointed by the Holy Spirit, to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart, to be a “bodily and spiritual medicine,” the Mediator between God and man.
Therefore in Christ “the perfect achievement of our reconciliation came forth”…
The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming mankind and giving perfect glory to God.
… “dying, he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life”…
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 5)
This He did that, by preaching the gospel to every creature, they might proclaim that the Son of God, by His death and resurrection, had freed us from the power of Satan and from death, and brought us into the kingdom of His Father.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 6)
Therefore the Church announces the good tidings of salvation to those who do not believe, so that all men may know the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent…
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 9)
…they should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and with each other, so that finally God may be all in all.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 48)
…intercession will be made for holy Church, for the civil authorities, for those oppressed by various needs, for all mankind, and for the salvation of the entire world.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 53)
Christ Jesus, high priest of the new and eternal covenant, taking human nature, introduced into this earthly exile that hymn which is sung throughout all ages in the halls of heaven. He joins the entire community of mankind to Himself, associating it with His own singing of this canticle of divine praise.
For He continues His priestly work through the agency of His Church, which is ceaselessly engaged in praising the Lord and interceding for the salvation of the whole world.
(Sacrosanctum Concilium 83)
United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.
(Gaudium et Spes 1)
Hence this Second Vatican Council… now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity.
Therefore the council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which it lives; that world which is the theater of man’s history, and the heir of his energies, his tragedies and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker’s love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ, Who was crucified and rose again to break the stranglehold of personified evil, so that the world might be fashioned anew according to God’s design and reach its fulfillment.
…this council can provide no more eloquent proof of its solidarity with, as well as its respect and love for, the entire human family with which it is bound up, than by engaging with it in conversation about these various problems. The council brings to mankind light kindled by the Gospel, and puts at its disposal those saving resources which the Church herself, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, receives from her Founder. For the human person deserves to be preserved; human society deserves to be renewed. Hence the focal point of our total presentation will be man himself, whole and entire, body and soul, heart and conscience, mind and will.
Therefore, this sacred synod, proclaiming the noble destiny of man and championing the Godlike seed which has been sown in him, offers to mankind the honest assistance of the Church in fostering that brotherhood of all men which corresponds to this destiny of theirs.
And Christ entered this world to give witness to the truth, to rescue and not to sit in judgment, to serve and not to be served.
(Gaudium et Spes 3)
The Church firmly believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through His Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under the heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point and the goal of man, as well as of all human history. The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, Who is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever. Hence under the light of Christ, the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of every creature, the council wishes to speak to all men…
(Gaudium et Spes 10)
Although the mystery of death utterly beggars the imagination, the Church has been taught by divine revelation and firmly teaches that man has been created by God for a blissful purpose beyond the reach of earthly misery. In addition, that bodily death from which man would have been immune had he not sinned will be vanquished, according to the Christian faith, when man who was ruined by his own doing is restored to wholeness by an almighty and merciful Savior. For God has called man and still calls him so that with his entire being he might be joined to Him in an endless sharing of a divine life beyond all corruption. Christ won this victory when He rose to life, for by His death He freed man from death. Hence to every thoughtful man a solidly established faith provides the answer to his anxiety about what the future holds for him. At the same time faith gives him the power to be united in Christ with his loved ones who have already been snatched away by death; faith arouses the hope that they have found true life with God.
(Gaudium et Spes 18)
Hence believers can have more than a little to do with the birth of atheism. To the extent that they neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion.
(Gaudium et Spes 19)
For man was made an intelligent and free member of society by God Who created him, but even more important, he is called as a son to commune with God and and share in His happiness. She further teaches that a hope related to the end of time does not diminish the importance of intervening duties but rather undergirds the acquittal of them with fresh incentives. By contrast, when a divine instruction and the hope of life eternal are wanting, man’s dignity is most grievously lacerated, as current events often attest; riddles of life and death, of guilt and of grief go unsolved with the frequent result that men succumb to despair.
(Gaudium et Spes 21)
To the sons of Adam He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward.
For by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man.
In Him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves; from bondage to the devil and sin He delivered us, so that each one of us can say with the Apostle: The Son of God “loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.
Through Christ and in Christ, the riddles of sorrow and death grow meaningful. Apart from His Gospel, they overwhelm us. Christ has risen, destroying death by His death; He has lavished life upon us so that, as sons in the Son, we can cry out in the Spirit: Abba, Father.
(Gaudium et Spes 22)
God, Who has fatherly concern for everyone, has willed that all men should constitute one family and treat one another in a spirit of brotherhood. For having been created in the image of God, Who “from one man has created the whole human race and made them live all over the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26), all men are called to one and the same goal, namely God Himself.
Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, “that all may be one… as we are one” (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason…
(Gaudium et Spes 24)
Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.
(Gaudium et Spes 29)
In His preaching He clearly taught the sons of God to treat one another as brothers.
Indeed as the redeemer of all, He offered Himself for all even to the point of death.
** He commanded His Apostles to preach to all peoples the Gospel’s message that the human race was to become the Family of God, in which the fullness of the Law would be love.
This solidarity must be constantly increased until that day on which it will be brought to perfection. Then, saved by grace, men will offer flawless glory to God as a family beloved of God and of Christ their Brother.
(Gaudium et Spes 32)
Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross…
He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God.
(Gaudium et Spes 38)
We do not know the time for the consummation of the earth and of humanity, nor do we know how all things will be transformed. As deformed by sin, the shape of this world will pass away; but we are taught that God is preparing a new dwelling place and a new earth where justice will abide, and whose blessedness will answer and surpass all the longings for peace which spring up in the human heart. Then, with death overcome, the sons of God will be raised up in Christ, and what was sown in weakness and corruption will be invested with incorruptibility. Enduring with charity and its fruits, all that creation which God made on man’s account will be unchained from the bondage of vanity.
… when Christ hands over to the Father: “a kingdom eternal and universal, a kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.” On this earth that Kingdom is already present in mystery. When the Lord returns it will be brought into full flower.
(Gaudium et Spes 39)
…the Church has a saving and an eschatological purpose which can be fully attained only in the future world.
Thus the Church, at once “a visible association and a spiritual community,” goes forward together with humanity and experiences the same earthly lot which the world does. She serves as a leaven and as a kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God’s family.
(Gaudium et Spes 40)
…God, Who is the ultimate goal of man…
But only God, Who created man to His own image and ransomed him from sin…
For by His incarnation the Father’s Word assumed, and sanctified through His cross and resurrection, the whole of man, body and soul, and through that totality the whole of nature created by God for man’s use.
(Gaudium et Spes 41)
The union of the human family is greatly fortified and fulfilled by the unity, founded on Christ, of the family of God’s sons.
…the Church, for she is, “thanks to her relationship with Christ, a sacramental sign and an instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of the whole human race.”
(Gaudium et Spes 42)
…so that the whole human race may be led to the unity of God’s family.
(Gaudium et Spes 43)
While helping the world and receiving many benefits from it, the Church has a single intention: that God’s kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass.
For God’s Word, by whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh so that as perfect man He might save all men and sum up all things in Himself. The Lord is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings. He it is Whom the Father raised from the dead, lifted on high and stationed at His right hand, making Him judge of the living and the dead. Enlivened and united in His Spirit, we journey toward the consummation of human history, one which fully accords with the counsel of God’s love: “To re-establish all things in Christ, both those in the heavens and those on the earth” (Eph. 1:10).
(Gaudium et Spes 45)
…the Word of God, Who before He became flesh in order to save all and to sum up all in Himself was “in the world” as “the true light which enlightens every man” (John 1:9-10)
… by divine charity through Him Who has come to save the world.
(Gaudium et Spes 57)
… so that God’s plan for mankind may be realized.
(Gaudium et Spes 64)
… be a partner in the work of bringing divine creation to perfection.
(Gaudium et Spes 67)
…the whole human family.
(Gaudium et Spes 53)
…the unity of the human race.
(Gaudium et Spes 54)
For the benefit of the whole human family…
(Gaudium et Spes 74)
… to the good of the whole human family…
(Gaudium et Spes 75)
… the whole human family faces an hour of supreme crisis in its advance toward maturity.
(Gaudium et Spes 77)
For by the cross the incarnate Son, the prince of peace reconciled all men with God. By thus restoring all men to the unity of one people and one body…
(Gaudium et Spes 78)
…that they nourish a profound reverence for the whole of humanity, which is already making its way so laboriously toward greater unity.
(Gaudium et Spes 82)
Every sector of the family of man carries within itself and in its best traditions some portion of the spiritual treasure entrusted by God to humanity, even though many may not be aware of the source from which it comes.
(Gaudium et Spes 86)
… a genuine respect for all freedoms and amicable brotherhood between all.
(Gaudium et Spes 88)
By virtue of her mission to shed on the whole world the radiance of the Gospel message, and to unify under One Spirit all men of whatever nation, race or culture, the Church stands forth as a sign of that brotherhood which allows honest dialogue and gives it vigor.
…let us take pains to pattern ourselves after the Gospel more exactly every day, and thus work as brothers in rendering service to the human family. For, in Christ Jesus this family is called to the family of the sons of God.
We include those who oppress the Church and harass her in manifold ways. Since God the Father is the origin and purpose of all men, we are all called to be 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.
(Gaudium et Spes 92)
Now, the Father wills that in all men we recognize Christ our brother and love Him effectively, in word and in deed. By thus giving witness to the truth, we will share with others the mystery of the heavenly Father’s love. As a consequence, men throughout the world will be aroused to a lively hope — the gift of the Holy Spirit — that some day at last they will be caught up in peace and utter happiness in that fatherland radiant with the glory of the Lord.
(Gaudium et Spes 93)
The Catholic Church, since it was founded by Christ our Lord to bear salvation to all men and thus is obliged to preach the Gospel…
It is the duty of pastors to instruct and guide the faithful so that they, with the help of these same media, may further the salvation and perfection of themselves and of the entire human family.
(Inter Mirifica 3)
… the whole human family…
(Inter Mirifica 22)
“Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, and the same forever.”
(Inter Mirifica 24)
What has revealed the love of God among us is that the Father has sent into the world His only-begotten Son, so that, being made man, He might by His redemption give new life to the entire human race and unify it.
(Unitatis Redintegratio 2)
Christ the Lord, Son of the living God, came that He might save His people from their sins and that all men might be sanctified.
(Christus Dominus 1)
…but should also wholeheartedly devote themselves to those who have strayed in any way from the path of truth or are ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His saving mercy until finally all men walk “in all goodness and justice and truth” (Eph. 5:9).
(Christus Dominus 11)
This love of God both excites and energizes that love of one’s neighbor which contributes to the salvation of the world and the building up of the Church.
(Perfectae Caritatis 6)
Moreover love sums up the whole law (Rom. 13:10), binds all together in perfect unity (Col 3:14) and by it we know that we have crossed over from death to life (1 John 3:14)
(Perfectae Caritatis 15)
The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ throughout the earth for the glory of God the Father, to enable all men to share in His saving redemption, and that through them the whole world might enter into a relationship with Christ.
(Apostolican Actuositatem 2)
Christ’s redemptive work, while essentially concerned with the salvation of men, includes also the renewal of the whole temporal order.
…the singular plan of God that He Himself intends to raise up the whole world again in Christ and to make it a new creation, initially on earth and completely on the last day.
(Apostolican Actuositatem 5)
It has pleased God to unite all things, both natural and supernatural, in Christ Jesus “so that in all things He may have the first place” (Col. 1:18). This destination, however, not only does not deprive the temporal order of its independence, its proper goals, laws, supports, and significance for human welfare but rather perfects the temporal order in its own intrinsic strength and worth and puts it on a level with man’s whole vocation upon earth.
(Apostolican Actuositatem 7)
The greatest commandment in the law is to love God with one’s whole heart and one’s neighbor as oneself (Matt 22:37-40).
Assuming human nature, He bound the whole human race to Himself as a family through a certain supernatural solidarity.
…it is altogether necessary that one should consider in one’s neighbor the image of God in which he has been created…
(Apostolican Actuositatem 8)
They should remember that they can reach all men and contribute to the salvation of the whole world…
(Apostolican Actuositatem 16)
…the laity bear witness to Christ, the Savior of the world, as well as to the unity of the human family.
(Apostolican Actuositatem 27)
In the family parents have the task of training their children from childhood on to recognize God’s love for all men.
(Apostolican Actuositatem 30)
…they are to seek to lead those who are not of this sheepfold that they, too, may hear the voice of Christ, so that there might be one fold and one shepherd.
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 3)
Finally, they have entrusted to them all those who do not recognize Christ as their Savior.
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 9)
The priesthood of Christ, in which all priests really share, is necessarily intended for all peoples and all times, and it knows no limits of blood, nationality or time…
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 10)
…that they may be able to carry on in time his marvelous work whereby the entire family of man is again made whole by the power from above.
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 12)
…the Church which perseveres in prayer in the name of the whole human race…
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 13)
Filled with the Holy Spirit, he is guided by Him who desires the salvation of all men.
By this obedience he conquered and made up for the disobedience of Adam, as the Apostle testifies, “for as by the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also by the obedience of one, many shall be made just” (Rom. 5:19)
(Presbyterorum Ordinis 16)
…the Church, being the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-14), is more urgently called upon to save and renew every creature, that all things may be restored in Christ and all men may constitute one family in Him and one people of God.
(Ad Gentes 1)
Thus He who created all things may at last be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28), bringing about at one and the same time His own glory and our happiness. But it pleased God to call men to share His life, not just singly, apart from any mutual bond, but rather to mold them into a people in which His sons, once scattered abroad might be gathered together (John 11:52).
(Ad Gentes 2)
This universal design of God for the salvation of the human race is carried out…
Now God, in order to establish peace or the communion of sinful human beings with Himself, as well as to fashion them into a fraternal community, did ordain to intervene in human history in a way both new and, finally sending His Son, clothed in our flesh, in order that through Him He might snatch men from the power of darkness and Satan (Col 1:13; Acts 10:38) and reconcile the world to Himself in Him (2 Cor. 5:19). Him, then, by whom He made the world, He appointed heir of all things, that in Him He might restore all (Eph. 1:10).
…He is the new Adam, made head of a renewed humanity, and full of grace and of truth (John 1:14).
The Son of Man came not that He might be served, but that He might be a servant, and give His life as a ransom for the many — that is, for all (Mark 10:45).
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me; to bring good news to the poor He sent me, to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim to the captives release, and sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18). And again: “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).
But what the Lord preached that one time, or what was wrought in Him for the saving of the human race, must be spread abroad and published to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8), beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:27), so that what He accomplished at that one time for the salvation of all, may in the course of time come to achieve its effect in all.
(Ad Gentes 3)
…and there was presaged that union of all peoples…
(Ad Gentes 4)
Then, when He had by His death and His resurrection completed once for all in Himself the mysteries of our salvation and the renewal of all things…
(Ad Gentes 5)
This missionary activity derives its reason from the will of God, “who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:4-5).
In this way and by this means, the plan of God is fulfilled — that plan to which Christ conformed with loving obedience for the glory of the Father who sent Him, that the whole human race might form one people of God and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit which, being the expression of brotherly harmony, corresponds with the inmost wishes of all men. And so at last, there will be realized the plan of our Creator who formed man to His own image and likeness, when all who share one human nature, regenerated in Christ through the Holy Spirit and beholding the glory of God, will be able to say with one accord: “Our Father.”
(Ad Gentes 7)
For it is only by putting to death what is old that we are able to approach the newness of life.
Not without cause is Christ hailed by the faithful as “the expected of the nations, and their Savior.”
(Ad Gentes 8)
The Church, sent by Christ to reveal and to communicate the love of God to all men and nations…
(Ad Gentes 10)
Thus other men, observing their good works, can glorify the Father (Matt. 5:16) and can perceive more fully the real meaning of human life and the universal bond of the community of mankind.
(Ad Gentes 11)
Thus they help men to attain to salvation by love for God and neighbor, and the mystery of Christ begins to shine forth, in which there appears the new man, created according to God (Eph. 4:24), and in which the charity of God is revealed.
(Ad Gentes 12)
Wherever God opens a door of speech for proclaiming the mystery of Christ, there is announced to all men with confidence and constancy the living God, and He Whom He has sent for the salvation of all, Jesus Christ, in order that non-Christians, when the Holy Spirit opens their heart, may believe and be freely converted to the Lord, that they may cleave sincerely to Him Who, being the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), fulfills all their spiritual expectations, and even infinitely surpasses them.
(Ad Gentes 13)
… in order that in Christ, all things may be made subject to God, and finally God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
(Ad Gentes 21)
… all the riches of the nations which were given to Christ as an inheritance (Ps. 2:8)
(Ad Gentes 22)
Let him be convinced that obedience is the hallmark of the servant of Christ, who redeemed the human race by His obedience.
(Ad Gentes 24)
…consecrated not just for some one diocese, but for the salvation of the entire world.
(Ad Gentes 38)
…the nations may soon be led to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) and the glory of God which shines on the face of Jesus Christ may shine upon all men through the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 4:6).
(Ad Gentes 42)
To fulfill the mandate she has received from her divine founder of proclaiming the mystery of salvation to all men and of restoring all things in Christ…
(Gravissimum Educationis – Introduction)
One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men, until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.
(Nostra Aetate 1)
…that Truth which enlightens all men.
… Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.
(Nostra Aetate 2)
…by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself.
In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve Him shoulder to shoulder” (Soph. 3:9).
…Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation.
(Nostra Aetate 4)
…God, the Father of all…
(Nostra Aetate 5)
…God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love.
(Dignitatis Humanae 3)
Man, redeemed by Christ the Savior…
(Dignitatis Humanae 10)
In the end, when He completed on the cross the work of redemption whereby He achieved salvation and true freedom for men…
…it extends its dominion by the love whereby Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws all men to Himself.
Steadfastly they proclaimed to all the plan of God our Savior, “who wills that all men should be saved and come to the acknowledgement of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).
(Dignitatis Humanae 11)
… “first of all, supplications, prayers, petitions, acts of thanksgiving be made for all men… For this is good and agreeable in the sight of God our Savior, who wills that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-4).
(Dignitatis Humanae 14)
May the God and Father of all grant that the human family, through careful observance of the principle of religious freedom in society, may be brought by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit to the sublime and unending and “glorious freedom of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:21)
(Dignitatis Humanae 15)