The Council in Action: Theological Reflections on the Second Vatican Council

By Hans Kung; Cecily Hastings | Go to book overview

16
The Missions in the Ecumenical Age

THE CENTRAL PROBLEM for the Second Vatican Council is the renewal of the Church. Looking inwards, renewal of the Church in her liturgy, her constitution, her understanding of herself; looking outwards, renewal of her impact upon the world, her encounter with other Christian Churches, and, finally, with the other religions of the world. In the missions in particular, all of us, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox, are faced with a vast reshuffling of everything involved. It would be well if, both in the mission-field and at home, we were to take account of the new situation in good time; these questions are by no means the exclusive concern of missionaries. The reshuffle is due to all the general historical factors which are bringing to an end the "modern age" and ushering in a new age of the world, for which "atomic age" is only a very superficial term, envisaging only the aspect of technical and economic development. Obviously, both the enormous development of technology and industrialization and the sweeping reorganization of world economy that goes with it are having an important influence on the missions. But what are still more obvious are the political and social factors shaping the development of the Church in these areas: the end of colonialism, the national awakening of coloured peoples and the huge strides made by Communism, especially in Asia, are facing the missions with intensely difficult problems. But most deeply of all, the missions are being influenced by developments in the Church her-

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