Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council (2)

Gerald O’Collins SJ

The second of two articles which look at how Pope Francis’ leadership of the Church draws on the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. Gerald O’Collins SJ is adjunct professor of Australia Catholic University.

Justice and peace
In its final and longest document, Gaudium et Spes, Vatican II presented an image of a servant Church that wants to exercise a ministry of justice, peace, and dialogue with everyone. The Council was keenly aware of ‘the immense economic inequalities that now exist’ (art. 66). Gaudium et Spes highlighted the contrast between luxury and misery: ‘while an enormous mass of people still lack the absolute necessities of life, some, even in less advanced countries, live sumptuously or squander wealth’ (art. 63). Fifty years later these inequalities seem to have increased and not decreased.

Pope Francis has taken further this teaching of Vatican II by not only denouncing ‘a globalisation of indifference’ for which ‘human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded’ (EG, 53–54) but also by proposing an ‘option for the poor,’ which would learn from the poor, who ‘have much to teach us’.

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