Church-as-bond: a legacy of Vatican II
In 1965, at the end of Vatican II, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World 'Gaudium et spes' came into being. This constitution was neither addressed simply to Catholics, nor to just believers in Christ, but was a statement from the Church to "all men [and women] of good will." The Council moved the Church away from an exclusivist identity as a 'perfect society' which was indifferent to the world. Through the 'event' of Vatican II, the Church aligned its identity with a 'serving church' being in-the-world and for the world. In article 42, the Council came to exhort the Church to see itself as "a function, a light, an energy," and to serve God and the world as "a close bond" between the diverse, often hostile, elements that constitute the world.
How did the Council envision this radical existential change of identity and purpose? How did this stand against the backdrop of the Church's history? How did this stand against the secular understanding of the age? Fifty years have passed. The important development in twentieth century ecclesiology marked by 'Gaudium et spes' is one still vital in the twenty-first century: to a Church in a world measured by cell phones, big data, Facebook, the Islamic State, AIDS, the 99%, human rights, and the re-emergence of fascism in Europe and violent fundamentalism across the globe.
Chase, C. A., "Church-as-bond: a legacy of Vatican II" (2014). Forum Lectures. 109.