The World and the Church | James Kalb | Catholic World Report
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The Council proposed to deal with that situation, according to the Holy Father, by working with it as much as possible in hopes of eventually getting beyond it. In its deliberations, therefore, “the modern world’s values were not only respected but honored,” so much so that the Church “felt the need … almost to run after [the society in which she lives] in its rapid and continuous change.” The outcome of the discussions was “a simple, new and solemn teaching to love man in order to love God … to love man … not as a means but as the first step toward the final and transcendent goal which is the basis and cause of every love.”
So the ultimate goal did not change: “the effort to look on [God], and to center our heart in Him which we call contemplation, is the highest, the most perfect act of the spirit, the act which even today can and must be at the apex of all human activity.” Nonetheless, the Holy Father seemed to say, the Church must meet and value people where they are, and lead them to God by developing the implications of what they already know, want, and do. Just as all roads lead to Rome, one might say, all human interests and efforts, pursued honestly, consistently, and fully, should lead to God.
Such was the hope, a hope that indeed has much to be said for it. Nonetheless, the process turned out more difficult than expected.