Church Must Engage the Culture, Cardinal Says

Warns Catholics to Avoid Seeking Refuge in a «Ghetto»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

MILAN, Italy, FEB. 12, 2001 ( The Church´s great challenge today is to engage the culture in dialogue, Cardinal Paul Poupard says.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture spoke Sunday at the inauguration of a course to update individuals responsible for Catholic cultural centers in the Milan Archdiocese.

With the fall of communism, the era of militant atheism has ended, the French cardinal said. «No one, or almost no one, today says he is an atheist,» he noted. «Instead of this compromising position, they prefer to speak in the gentler terms of ´nonbeliever´ or ´agnostic.´»

The era of opposition between Catholics and non-Catholics has been replaced by a more insidious form of alienation and indifference, which does not blatantly oppose dialogue but simply shuns it, he warned.

As a remedy the cardinal urged: «On the cultural plane, understood as an ensemble of mentalities and values, one can and should be in touch with those who have distanced themselves from the Church.»

To this end, John Paul II eight years ago made the then recently created Pontifical Council for Culture responsible for dialogue with nonbelievers.

Echoing a theme of Paul VI´s apostolic exhortation «Evangelii Nuntiandi,» Cardinal Poupard said the object of every Christian should be to evangelize cultures, without neglecting the other side of the question: the inculturation of faith.

«Given widespread apathy, relativism and lack of conviction,» the cardinal cautioned, «the temptation to fundamentalism or to seeking refuge in a ghetto will be strong for Catholics.»

He also stressed, however, that the time has arrived to forge ahead in society, «secure in our Christian identity.»

It is precisely cultural centers that have this capacity and vocation to develop this task, he said, thanks to their presence in the diocese, and their diversity of activities, from the movies to theater, as well as conferences, publishing endeavors, and study seminars. In such flexible, creative and open structures, the work to prepare the ground for faith must begin, the cardinal said.

«The future of the new evangelization rests in cultural centers,» he concluded. «The Church needs an infinite number of centers and initiatives, even if they are very modest, yet capable of being in touch with people.»

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation