Pope Francis said Friday that he senses resistance to Gaudium et spes, a document the pope said he reflected much upon during his Lenten retreat this week.
In his concluding remarks at the Roman curia’s spiritual exercises March 15, Pope Francis said that he was struck by the retreat master’s theme of God’s presence in humanity.
“I thought a lot about a conciliar document - Gaudium et spes - perhaps it is the document that has found more resistance, even today,” Pope Francis said.
Gaudium et spes is the Second Vatican Council's 1965 pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.
Francis told the retreat master, Benedictine abbot Bernardo Gianni, that he saw the monk possessed “the courage of the Council Fathers when they signed that document.”
The document's introduction states that “the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.”
Gaudium et spes touches on the Church’s role in economic and social life, matters of the family, political affairs, the development of culture, and the promotion of peace in the world through the international community.
“Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come,” Gaudium et spes states.
It continues, “When we have spread on earth the fruits of our nature and our enterprise—human dignity, brotherly communion, and freedom—according to the command of the Lord and in his Spirit, we will find them once again, cleansed this time from the stain of sin, illuminated and transfigured, when Christ presents to his Father an eternal and universal kingdom … Here on earth the kingdom is mysteriously present.”
Reflecting on the incarnate Word, the pastoral constitution says: “Christ … fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear.”
Pope Francis returned to Rome after his Lenten retreat at the Casa Divin Maestro in Ariccia March 15. It is the sixth consecutive year the pope and members of the Curia have held their spiritual exercises at the house in Ariccia.