Summary of Chapters 2 and 3 of Schema on Church in Modern World

These are the summaries of chapters two and three of the schema on the Church in the modern world that were released by the ecumenical council press office.


The Church in the Service of God and Men

Contacts between the Church and the world are necessary, inasmuch as the Church has been founded by Christ for the salvation of the world. Many of the difficulties issuing from her contacts with the world would be avoided or lessened if the value of the divine mission of the Church were understood.

Christ entrusted to His Church the task of evangelizing men. Religious liberty is indispensable, whether for the Church in order to be in a position to announce the Gospel, or for men for the acceptance of the message of salvation through a free act of Faith.

Since the Christian is at the same time a citizen of the world, he is bound to accept its laws, with the exception of those which may be in conflict with the law of God. The Church can only judge civil laws in the light of religious and moral principles, but she must not in any degree become involved in temporal things, and, much less, dominate them.

Without the presence of the Church there is realized no true progress in the world. Charity, as well as all the other virtues contained in it, will always be necessary for life. Thus the Church can always offer her own proper contribution to the unfolding of life in the world.

The concrete manifestation of charity will vary according to differences of time and circumstances, but the faithful must always act conformably to their own conscience, which in turn must be formed by the pastors of souls.


The Christians’ Manner of Life in the World in Which They Live

It is God’s will that men should not live the message of salvation only as individuals, but should also reflect it in their family and social background, in order to impregnate this background with the presence of Christ. The council sets itself to point out to the faithful how they are to be authentic Christians and at the same time citizens of the world.

Charity is the supreme law given by Christ, whether in relation to God or in relation to one’s neighbor. It is charity which causes us to recognize as our neighbors those who suffer, putting ourselves under an obligation, through a pooling of forces, to assist in their needs both as individuals and peoples.

In the present-day circumstances, Christians are under obligation to accept offices in the temporal order, because otherwise they would fail to carry the influence of Christ into many sectors of life.

In order to achieve this mission it is necessary above all to follow Christ in a spirit of poverty, and then to know how to open dialogue with all men of good will, the kind of dialogue which aims at mutual understanding in view of brotherly cooperation. Solidity in Faith and the spirit of brotherhood make it possible for us to enter into dialogue in all fields, with all due regard for Christian prudence. This calls for a deep spirit of abnegation and humility.

As for the apostolate, in restricted fields, it is advisable not to multiply specifically Catholic organizations, except in case of absolute necessity. If contacts are established with organizations set up on a broader scale, in cooperation with believers of other religions or with Christians of other confessions, care must be taken in such associations to respect religious and moral freedom. With regard to associations on an international level, it is the duty of Catholics to collaborate with them both as individuals and as groups, with the intention of providing service and to make efforts to insure an ever-greater expansion of the spirit of brotherhood and justice.

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