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Review article

The Church and “the Autonomy of Earthly Affairs” According to the Constitution “Gaudium et Spes”

Miljenko Aničić ; Catholic Faculty of Theology, J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek, Đakovo, Croatia

Fulltext: croatian, pdf (238 KB) pages 507-533 downloads: 550* cite
APA 6th Edition
Aničić, M. (2013). Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“. Diacovensia, 21 (3), 507-533. Retrieved from
MLA 8th Edition
Aničić, Miljenko. "Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“." Diacovensia, vol. 21, no. 3, 2013, pp. 507-533. Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Aničić, Miljenko. "Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“." Diacovensia 21, no. 3 (2013): 507-533.
Aničić, M. (2013). 'Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“', Diacovensia, 21(3), pp. 507-533. Available at: (Accessed 27 November 2021)
Aničić M. Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“. Diacovensia [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2021 November 27];21(3):507-533. Available from:
M. Aničić, "Crkva i „autonomija zemaljskih stvari“ prema konstituciji „Gaudium et spes“", Diacovensia, vol.21, no. 3, pp. 507-533, 2013. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 27 November 2021]

Faced with numerous and profound social changes, in the Second Vatican Council the Church set for itself a task to once again raise awareness and show its members and the modern world the essence of Christian faith. The Pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et Spes” not only rejects the dualistic opposition of the Church and the world, but clearly highlights the Council's opening of the Church to the world. Regarding the world, the Council offers a differentiated image with its positive and negative aspects and challenges. Gaudium et Spes calls one of these challenges “the autonomy of earthly affairs”. This article seeks to explore this for the modern man and the world important topic. The Council distinguishes between relative or legitimate and absolute or illegitimate autonomy. The discussion on this topic is much older and it goes back to the early centuries of Christianity, but it was not until the Second Vatican Council that it was adequately defined. To position this topic correctly it is necessary to consider both the Council’s image of man and of the world, and also to examine the ambivalence of the relationship between religion and the world, the Church and society. The autonomy of earthly affairs encompasses a wide range of human activities. The Church once had particular difficulties with autonomy in the area of science, because the religiously formed image of the world was brought into question, but also because of the explicitly antitheistic viewpoints of some scientists. However, the demand for autonomy extends to other areas as well. The article particularly deals with issues of autonomy of science, culture, social and political activity, and the role of the laity. The autonomy of earthly affairs in its legitimate form appears as a requirement of the Christian faith. Because it distinguishes between the creator and the creation, it is Christian faith that allows the worldliness of the world. The autonomy that accepts a relationship with God appears as a protector of human person and its dignity, protecting it from illusions of its own self-perfectibility. Finally, autonomy also gives freedom to the Church, allowing it to be a place of freedom against modern forms of slavery.

Church; Gaudium et Spes; the autonomy of earthly affairs; science; culture; politics; lay person

Hrčak ID: 111482



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