Peter Kwasniewski over at Rorate has posted the whole of the speech which Pope Paul VI made 50 years ago today, for the end of Vatican II. Some parts of it have often been quoted by critics of the council, especially the line about the religion of God made man meeting the religion of man making himself a God, but without any clash. Sometimes Paul VI has been quoted as saying to the secular people, ‘Recognise that we more than anyone have the cult of man’, but Kwasniewski charitably translates the last phrase as ‘honour mankind’.

One part that I’d not seen before, however, is this:

Would not this council, then, which has concentrated principally on man, be destined to propose again to the world of today the ladder leading to freedom and consolation? Would it not be, in short, a simple, new and solemn teaching to love man in order to love God?

Perhaps here even more than in John XXIII’s unfortunate antithesis between mercy and justice in the opening speech we get to the heart of things. “To love man in order to love God”. The formal object of charity is the divine goodness. That is why God is the first one who is loved by charity. We must love other rational beings, in via and in patria, with charity insofar as they can or do participate in the divine goodness as such. They are therefore secondary objects of charity. To make man the primary object (“to love man in order to love God”) logically means that man is God and that God is lovable insofar as he partakes of human goodness. This would indeed be “a new teaching”.