Margaret H. McCarthy, in “Vatican II and the Church’s ‘Openness to the World’: Casting a Wider Net Through the Still Narrow Gate,” explores the Church’s renewed awareness of and attention to the world through the doctrine of predestination. She notes the parameters of the doctrine as it is currently known, and its receptivity by the faithful and the teaching Magisterium. McCarthy then considers the challenge of the council for the Church to “raze its bastions” in order to face the whole world, for the sake of directing the world, through the Church, to the truth of trinitarian love.
Larry Chapp, in “Gaudium et spes and the Intelligibility of Modern Science,” proposes that if we take the trinitarian Christology of the council seriously—that is, if we accept that Christ “fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear”—then this oft-quoted line of GS holds the key not only to understanding the Church’s relationship to the modern world, but also man’s relationship to knowledge. Intelligibility is never extrinsic to Christ. Therefore, Chapp avers, the stranglehold the modern sciences have on discourse in the modern university must be released in favor of a confessional university guided by an adequate analogy of being and knowing. Only therein can the truth of Christ as informing all knowledge from within—including what is understood to be properly scientific—be appropriately explored and communicated.
Michael Hanby also identifies GS, 22 as the key to understanding the legitimate autonomy of the sciences, “because creation, which only emerges fully to view in the light of Christology, is in one of the most basic senses what things are.” In his “Aggiornamento and the Sciences: What Does It Mean?” Hanby goes on to argue that the “legitimate autonomy” that GS concedes is proper to the modern sciences does not mean, as is often thought, that the sciences tell us what things are while philosophy tells us what things mean. Rather the christological key which GS, 22 offers us allows us to see and explore the “inexhaustible surplus” of intelligibility of the world and being, thereby transforming all three—intelligibility, world, being—such that the sciences gain an “ever more” quality in their respective disciplines while remaining inextricably bound to metaphysics and theology.
Finally, in Retrieving the Tradition, Angelo Scola, in an article written early in the pontificate of John Paul II, demonstrates the continuity between his papacy and the Second Vatican Council in “The Interventions of Karol Wojtyła at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: Exposition and Theological Interpretation.” The framework within which the young Polish auxiliary bishop situates his suggestions for the council is astonishingly similar to the conciliar documents that would result: they revolve around “the trinitarian mystery of the Church understood in missionary terms,” and a “constant concern for the human person, who is the Church’s permanent interlocutor, as he was of God the Creator and the Redeemer.” In each of Wojtyła’s interventions we see radiating the central themes that sprang from the council and continue to be pondered today.
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