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|Congregation for the Clergy|
General catechetical directory
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67 The Church is not only a communion among brothers, whose head is Christ, but she manifests herself also as an institution to whom the universal saving mission has been entrusted. The People of God, established by Christ "as a communion of life, of charity, and of truth, is also used by him as an instrument for the redemption of ail, and is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth" (LG, 9).
For this reason the Church is shown by the Second Vatican Council as a reality that embraces ail history, accepts ail its different cultures and directs them be God; and by virtue of the action of Christ’s Spirit is constituted "the universal sacrament of salvation." Likewise, she is shown as the Church that is engaged in dialogue with the world. Taking note of the signs of the limes, she discovers what men are considering important and on what things she is in agreement with them. Moreover, she takes pains to be understood and recognised by the world, striving to divest herself of those external forms which seem less Gospel-like, and in which traces of eras already ended appear all too clearly.
The Church, of course, is not of this world, she is "inspired by no earthly ambition" (GS, 3) and she will be perfect only in heaven, on which she has her eyes fixed and toward which she is journeying. And yet she is connected with the world and its history. However, "the deep solicitude of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their grief's and efforts, is nothing other than her great desire to be present 10 them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and to gather them ail in him, their only Savior. This solicitude can never mean that the Church conform herself to the things of this world, or that she lessen the ardor of hem expectation of hem Lord and of the eternal Kingdom" (Paul VI, Prof essio fidei, n. 27, AAS, 1968, p. 444).
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