John Paul II Says Church Must Try to Shape Culture

Applauds Work of Catholic Media

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2002 ( The Church’s presence in public life depends above all on the contribution that pastors and faithful can make to culture, says John Paul II.

The Pope relayed that view in a message sent to the Italian bishops’ conference, which is meeting in general assembly.

The main topic of the assembly, being held in Collevalenza through Thursday, is the «anthropological question,» namely, the concept of man in today’s society and the proposal that the Church should make.

In its program for the coming decade, the bishops’ conference hopes to play a key role in a «cultural plan with a Christian orientation.»

The initiative involves all Catholic communities, ranging from parishes to religious communities, and from schools to the media.

This «cultural plan,» the Pope said in his message, must serve to «give a more intense and incisive cultural dimension to the work of evangelization.»

Hence, the papal letter begins with a fundamental question: «Who is man?»

When it comes to answering the question, John Paul II said, there are in society «tendencies to deny or forget the oneness of our being and our vocation, as creatures made in the image of God.»

Such tendencies, he said, «receive a new impulse today from the pretense of being able to adequately explain man with empirical scientific methods alone.»

«And this occurs when it is actually more than ever necessary to have a clear and firm conviction of the inviolable dignity of the human person, in order to face the risks of radical manipulation that would occur if the resources of technology were applied to man leaving aside the fundamental parameters and anthropological and ethical criteria written in his very nature,» the Holy Father stressed.

«Moreover,» he continued, «this awareness of the dignity that belongs to us by nature is the only principle on which a society and a really humanist civilization can be built, at a time when economic interests and the messages of social communication act on a planetary scale, endangering that patrimony of cultural and moral values which represents the first wealth of nations.»

In order that the Church contribute its values to contemporary culture, the Pope appealed for a concrete commitment of presence in the media.

In particular, he applauded the media established by the Italian episcopate: the newspaper Avvenire, the satellite television channel Sat2000, and the radiophonic broadcasting station Blue Sat2000.

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