Proposals to Tackle Religious Indifference

Conclusions From Pontifical Council’s Plenary Assembly

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2004 ( Participants at an assembly that examined the phenomenon of religious indifference seemed to agree: «Only when our faith is strong can we share it with others.»

That summary was voiced by a Vietnamese representative at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, which met in Rome from March 11-13.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, council president, closed the assembly, which gathered 21 cardinals and 12 archbishops and bishops. They reflected on «The Christian Faith at the Dawn of the New Millennium and the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference.» At the end, the assembly offered guidelines for Catholics to address this challenge.

«Unbelief is not increasing in the world,» Cardinal Poupard said when he closed the working sessions of the assembly. «This phenomenon is observed first of all in the Western world. … [U]nbelief cannot be considered as an Asian, Latin American or African phenomenon, or proper to the Muslim world.»

To address the situation, Cardinal Poupard summarized some of the proposals made in the assembly:

— «The importance of witnessing the joy of being a person loved by God.

— «The reaffirmed need for apologetics: to give reason for our hope with gentleness and respect.

— «To reach ‘homo urbanus’ with the Church’s public presence in the debates of society.

— «To put the Gospel in touch with the forces that shape culture.

— «To learn to think, from the school to university.

— «In the face of secularizing obstruction, dissolving skepticism, intolerant liberalism, and leveling pluralism one must react […] with a new and joyful proposal of Christian culture.

— «Nonbelievers, indifferent to the question of God, but believers in human values, must be shown by the life of believers and communities of faith that ‘to be’ means to be religious, and that man finds his fulfillment following the message of the Gospel of Christ, Son of God and of the Virgin Mary, crucified and resurrected, infinite and inexhaustible source of beauty, truth and love.»

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