Indifference Calls Church to an Intellectual "Leap in Quality," Says Pope

Addresses the Problem of Religious Indifference

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2004 ( John Paul II urged Catholics to make a «a leap in quality» in the intellectual field, to better respond to questions on the meaning of life posed by a society increasingly indifferent to religion.

The Pope made this request when he received in audience the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The assembly was reflecting on «The Christian Faith at the Dawn of the Third Millennium and the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference.»

In his address Saturday, the Holy Father said that the topic of the meeting is «an essential concern of the Church in all the continents.»

In the three-day assembly, the pontifical council analyzed a worldwide study on unbelief and religious indifference, which reported that «from the militant and organized atheism of other times there has been a move to a situation of practical indifference, of the loss of importance of the question of God, and of abandonment of religious practice, especially in the Western world.»

The assembly’s working document explained, however, that it is not a question of «abandonment of belief in God.»

When Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, presented the participants to the Pope, he said that in the plenary assembly in its working sessions recognized that the Church is facing «a new situation of inner emptiness» in modern people.

This «sort of spiritual sluggishness,» the cardinal said, is a call to the whole Church to «a renewal in thought, prayer and action,» in particular, to discover «new languages to transmit the Gospel and touch both the reason as well as sensitivity, combining the ways of truth and beauty.»

In his response to the cardinal, John Paul II said that «beyond the crisis of civilizations, of philosophical and moral relativism, it is up to the pastors and faithful to discover and delve into the basic questions and aspirations of the men and women of our time.»

Pastors and faithful must also dialogue with people and «propose the Gospel message and person of Christ, the Redeemer,» the Pope added. «Cultural and artistic expressions are not lacking in riches or resources for the transmission of the Christian message.»

«It is necessary to support the world of culture, of the arts, and of letters, so that it will contribute to the building of a society that is not founded on materialism, but on moral and spiritual values,» the Holy Father said.

He added: «The spread of ideologies in the different realms of society calls Christians to a new leap in quality in the intellectual field to propose vigorous reflections that present to young generations the truth on man and on God, inviting them to an ever more acute understanding of the faith.»

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