BOGOTA, Colombia, OCT. 12, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official tackled a key question during a major meeting in Latin America: How should cultures be evangelized?
Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, ventured an answer when he addressed the Continental Meeting to Support and Strengthen the Pastoral Care of Culture.
His lecture, delivered Monday at the headquarters of the Latin American bishops’ council (CELAM), was in the context of preparation for the council’s 5th General Assembly, which will be held in Rome in February 2007.
Cardinal Poupard, who spoke in Spanish, invited the Church to special discernment.
“The enculturation of the Gospel calls for discernment of points of support in the cultural and anti-cultural expressions of the society itself,” he explained.
“From this discernment, the points of support emerge, namely, those dynamic elements that the man of every age holds up as vital and valuable to fulfill his life,” he said.
“From these points of support, an appropriate language is chosen that will make possible dialogue from the Bible. The continuation of this dialogue, in part unknown, and in part known, is the basis of a new Christian initiation,” the Vatican official observed.
“To be initiated refers to a gradual introduction to the mystery of man and of God revealed in Jesus Christ. From the vivifying introduction in this mystery a new creature emerges, whose exercise of freedom is also new,” the cardinal added.
“This second movement, a consequence of the acceptance of the Gospel, could be called evangelization of culture, precisely because it has translated in evangelical expressions, man’s new relationship with himself, with others, with the world, with God,” Cardinal Poupard explained.
“New creature means new interior consistency and new interpersonal and cosmic relationships. In this process, it calls for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and community life, a life that in the present context of valuing subjectivity, cannot be other than a small community,” he said.
Popular piety in Latin America “not only is a laboratory for the dialogue of faith and culture, tradition and progress, namely, the enculturation of the Gospel, but also a real occasion of Christian initiation,” the cardinal said.
He added, however, that the evangelization of culture in countries of Christian tradition, in particular, the Latin American, calls for “a continuous new evangelization, not re-evangelization.”
The latter, he clarified, “would imply among other things that the process itself of evangelization has an end and that, given the forgetfulness of what has been ‘learned,’ the lesson must be repeated.”
Cardinal Poupard concluded: “The Gospel is not an abstract content but a living person, Jesus Christ dead and resurrected, first fruit and fullness of the Kingdom of God in the human heart — a Gospel that knows no limit and, as a result, no repetition.”