Cardinal Poupard Urges Soul Searching in Wake of Sept. 11

West Needs to Review Its Own Values, He Says

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 10, 2002 ( Cardinal Paul Poupard thinks the best way the West could commemorate the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is by reviewing its own values.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, the French cardinal said it is important to ask: «What is the identity of so-called Western civilization? What are its principal values? What is Christianity’s effective role in this culture? What is the role of religion in society?»

The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture then posed a second series of questions.

«What is the relation today between Islam and Christianity?» he asked. «How can the false stereotypes of the so-called Christian civilization of the West and the links between Islam and terrorism be surmounted?»

This year, John Paul II «has not failed to help public opinion understand that terrorism is not the expression of religion, but of its aberration,» the cardinal added.

«Many of the so-called values of present Western civilization are anything but values,» he said. «Rather, they are anti-values that in no way are Christian, but, instead, are the rejection and negation of these values.»

Cardinal Poupard referred, for example, to «the destruction of the family, the exaltation of homosexuality, the spread of pornography, growing immorality, abortion, gratuitous violence, the exclusion of God in the edification of society.»

«All these phenomena stir contempt and hatred for decadent Western society in other civilizations,» the cardinal stressed.

He continued: «After speaking of the globalization of terrorism, today it seems there is a desire to globalize war, or at least there is success in globalizing hatred, and not the civilization of love.»

An examination of conscience should lead the West to an appreciation of the civilization of love, he added.

«The enormous power of the media, symbolized in the collapse of the twin towers, repeated every day, produces heart-rending and catastrophic effects,» Cardinal Poupard concluded. «It is urgent to show other pictures, to escape from the spiral of hatred and violence.»

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