Man, says Vatican II (Gaudium et Spes), is the only creature that God wants for its own sake. Typically for Vatican II, this statement has two possible meanings, one orthodox and the other profoundly revolutionary. Unfortunately for the “conservatives” who try to maintain that the Council was Catholic, it is the revolutionary meaning that clearly corresponds to the key doctrine of another Council document, Dignitatis Humanae, and is therefore the Council’s true meaning.
Amongst all the material creatures on this earth, man alone is rational, i.e. endowed with faculties capable of knowing and loving God. All the rest of material creation serves only as a trampoline for man to bounce his short life on, until either he jumps to Heaven or crashes into Hell, and as soon as the last soul appointed by God to make that choice has done so, then all material creation will be consumed by fire, says Scripture (II Peter), because it will have served its purpose. In this sense it is true that God wills all creatures for man, and man alone for himself.
But that God wants man for man’s own sake is absolutely false in relation to God because God cannot want any creature, even man, for anything other than for the sake of God himself. God is Self-Being, Self-Good, totally Self-Sufficient, totally Self-Perfect. He can be in no want outside of His Divine Self-Being, because that would be in Him a need, a lack, an imperfection. That does not exclude his wanting to create creatures other than himself – look around! – but it does exclude his wanting them ultimately for anything other than for his own Goodness. Penultimately, i.e. prior to ultimately, he may want them for their own sake, for instance man to share in his Bliss, but ultimately he can only want them for his own Goodness, otherwise he would be needing them to perfect him – blasphemy!
St. Thomas Aquinas explains this ultimate and penultimate willing of God by a comparison with sweet and sour medicine, Ultimately I take the medicine, sweet or sour, only for my health, but if the medicine is sweet then penultimately I can be taking it also for its sweet taste. Ultimately God can want nothing but his own Goodness. Only penultimately can he want any creature for its own sake, e.g. man, to share in the Divine Bliss.
Does the distinction seem subtle? In the present case it is all the difference between man being centred on God, as the true Catholic religion knows, or God being centred on man, which is what the false religion of Vatican II is promoting – the “turn towards man.” Stay tuned for the proof from Dignitatis Humanae that the centring of God on man is the Council’s true meaning.