Cardinal Poupard on the Divorce Between Faith and Culture

Holy See Aide Suggests Remedies

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BILBAO, Spain, JUNE 5, 2002 ( The drama of the contemporary Church is the rupture between faith and culture, says Cardinal Paul Poupard.

«The Church is unable to make her voice heard in forums where thought is born and discussed, in the world of arts,» the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture said during an address here Monday.

The paradox emerges «of Christians living in a situation of cultural minority in countries of Christian tradition, as is the case of Spain, where even today the number of baptized in the Catholic Church comes close to 90% of the population,» he added.

His comments came during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Labayru Institute, held in the Euskalduna Palace of the Biscayan capital.

During his address, the cardinal questioned if the Church continues to hold a place in today´s culture as a creative element or simply as a vestige of the past.

«Will it be possible to live the faith in this postmodern culture or will we have to content ourselves with creating protected spaces, ghettos, citadels where Christian culture can be preserved, abandoning this world to its fate?» the French cardinal asked.

He explained this situation by alluding to four causes: the European religious wars of the 15th and 16th centuries; the progressive emancipation of the political power vis-à-vis any religious claim; scientific rationalism «that believed it could substitute religion as an explanation of reality and regards God as an unnecessary hypothesis; and, finally, the social question that produced the estrangement from religious life and practice life of great masses of the population.»

Cardinal Poupard suggested a series of actions to remedy the problem. First, he said, any choice made must involve the whole Christian community in the cultural realm, not just pastors or committed laymen.

«We must create culture giving life to new expressions of the faith or revitalizing those practices received from our parents,» he said.

The cardinal then referred to the work of active laymen in the realm of the sciences and arts.

The Church «can be proud of great achievements in the service of the poor, in volunteer work and solidarity,» he said. «But a more incisive action is urgent in scientific research, thought, and artistic and literary creation to overcome the division between the cultural elites and a people who, despite secularization, continues to be Catholic in the main.»

The Catholic university has an «irreplaceable» role here, when it comes to addressing this problem, the cardinal said.

The university must be «a hot spring of initiatives and ideas that is not content to live from borrowed, foreign thought, but wishes to submit all to the light of the Gospel,» he insisted.

Lastly, Cardinal Poupard pointed to the means of social communication and advocated a decisive investment in «human and economic resources so that there will be journalists, film directors, actors and producers prepared to live their faith coherently.»

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