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Gaudium et Spes

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Title: Gaudium et Spes  
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Gaudium et Spes

This article is part of the series:
Legislation and Legal System of the Catholic Church
Social Teaching

Pope Leo XIII
Quod Apostolici Muneris
Rerum Novarum

Pope Pius XI
Quadragesimo Anno

Pope Pius XII
Social teachings

Pope John XXIII
Mater et Magistra
Pacem in Terris

Vatican II
Dignitatis Humanae
Gaudium et Spes

Pope Paul VI
Populorum progressio

Pope John Paul II
Laborem Exercens
Sollicitudo Rei Socialis
Centesimus Annus
Evangelium Vitae

Pope Benedict XVI
Deus Caritas Est
Caritas in Veritate

Pope Francis
Lumen fidei

Social teachings of the Popes
Tranquillitas Ordinis

Notable figures
Gaspard Mermillod
René de La Tour du Pin
Heinrich Pesch
Dorothy Day
Óscar Romero
Joseph Bernardin
Hilaire Belloc
G. K. Chesterton
Thomas Woods

Gaudium et Spes (Ecclesiastical Latin: , Joy and Hope), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, was one of the four Apostolic Constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council. The document is an overview of the Catholic Church's teachings about humanity's relationship to society, especially in reference to economics, poverty, social justice, culture, science, technology and ecumenism.

Approved by a vote of 2,307 to 75 of the bishops assembled at the council, it was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 7 December 1965, the day the council ended. As is customary with Catholic documents, the title is taken from its incipit in Latin:


The document was not drafted before the council met, but arose from the floor of the council and was one of the last to be promulgated. Pope John XXIII, being deathly ill at the time, was forced to watch the proceedings on closed circuit television. He was too sick to attend, and died within months.

The previous Vatican Council in 1869-70 had tried to defend the role of the church in an increasingly secular world. Those who interpret the purpose of the Second Council as one of embracing this world use Gaudium et Spes as the primary hermeneutic for all its documents. One of the cardinals, Leo Joseph Suenens of Belgium, urged the council to take on social responsibility for Third World suffering, International peace and war, and the poor.

Marie-Dominique Chenu, famed professor of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum was influential in the composition of Gaudium et spes.[1]


The numbers given correspond to section numbers within the text.

  1. Preface (1-3)
  2. Introduction: The Situation of Men in the Modern World (4-10)
  3. Part 1: The Church and Man's Calling (11-45)
  4. The Dignity of the Human Person (12-22)
  5. The Community of Mankind (23-32)
  6. Man's Activity Throughout the World (33-39)
  7. The Role of the Church in the Modern World (40-45)
  8. Part 2: Some Problems of Special Urgency (46-93)
  9. Fostering the Nobility of Marriage and the Family (47-52)
  10. The Proper Development of Culture (53-62)
  11. The Circumstances of Culture in the World Today (54-56)
  12. Some Principles for the Proper Development of Culture (57-59)
  13. Definition of Culture. Culture in its general sense indicates everything whereby man develops and perfects his many bodily and spiritual qualities; he strives by his knowledge and his labor, to bring the world itself under his control. He renders social life more human both in the family and the civic community, through improvement of customs and institutions. Throughout the course of time he expresses, communicates and converses in his works, great spiritual experiences and desires that they might be of advantage to the progress of many, even the whole family (Guadium Et Spes Part II, Chapter II, Paragraph II).
  14. Some More Urgent Duties of Christians in Regard to Culture (60-62)
  15. Economic and Social Life (63-72)
  16. Economic Development (64 - 66)
  17. Certain Principles Governing Socio-Economic Life as a Whole (67-72)
  18. The Life of the Political Community (73-76)
  19. The Fostering of Peace and the Promotion of a Community of Nations (77-93)
  20. The Avoidance of War (79-82)
  21. Setting Up an International Community (83-93)
  22. Ecumenical impact

    The document has had a huge influence on the social teachings of the wider Christian churches and communities, especially the churches that belong to the World Council of Churches.



    1. ^ Walter Principe, "Chenu, M.D" in Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism. Edited by Richard McBrien, 1995.

    Further reading

    External links

    • The full text in English on the Vatican Web site
    • First ThingsFrom Ratzinger to Benedict by Avery Cardinal Dulles, Article in Feb 2006 edition of
    • (Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)Gaudium et spesThe Anthropocentrism of by Brunero Gherardini. Excerpted from Il Vaticano II. Alle radici d'un equivoco [Vatican II: At the Roots of an Equivoque], p. 185-195.
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