VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2001 ( John Paul II said a key challenge facing Christians today is to avoid having globalization impose a cultural homogenization, to the detriment of man´s spiritual dignity.

The Pontiff made his appeal when he attended the sixth public session of the members of the Pontifical academies, Vatican institutions composed of scientists and thinkers who on this occasion addressed the topic "Cultural Dimensions of Globalization: A Challenge for Christian Humanism."

The Holy Father explained that Christ´s disciples are called to perceive the "human, cultural and spiritual" implications of globalization, which does not just affect the "economic and financial" spheres.

"What is the image of man [that globalization] proposes and, in a certain sense, imposes?" the Pope asked. "What culture does it favor? What space does it give to the experience of faith and the interior life?"

"There is the impression that the complex dynamism caused by the globalization of the economy and the media tends progressively to reduce man to a market variable, to merchandise for exchange, to a totally irrelevant factor in the most decisive options," the Holy Father said.

Thus, "man runs the risk of feeling trampled by faceless mechanisms of world dimensions and increasingly loses his identity and his dignity as a person," John Paul II continued.

"In virtue of such dynamism, cultures also, if they are not accepted and respected in their own originality and richness, if they are adapted by force to the exigencies of the market and fashions, might run the risk of homogenization," the Holy Father added.

"From here is derived a cultural product characterized by a superficial syncretism, in which new hierarchies of values are imposed, deduced from criteria which are often arbitrary, materialistic and consumerist, opposed to any kind of opening to the transcendent," the Pope explained.

"This great challenge, which at the beginning of the new millennium puts at stake the very view of man himself, of his destiny, and of the future of humanity, makes imperative a careful and profound intellectual and theological discernment of the anthropological-cultural paradigm produced by these changes in time," the Pontiff continued.

Hence, "it is necessary to conquer all fear and address these challenges, trusting in the light and strength of the Spirit that the risen Lord continues to give to his Church," the Pope concluded.