Cardinal Urges Catholics to Engage Culture

Says Reason Must Go Beyond Empirical Science

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By Patricia Navas

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2009 ( There is a need for Catholics to engage modern culture, understanding and appreciating its positive aspects while debating its negative points, said the former president of the Italian bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini affirmed this Thursday in a Vatican Radio interview regarding the recent publication of a book, «Confini» (Limits), that features a discussion between the cardinal and historian Ernesto Galli della Loggia.

The prelate stated that if humanity «wishes to go forward, if it wishes to seriously address the great problems it faces, it must have a broader reason, a reason free from the scientific spirit and from relativism.»
He explained that Benedict XVI’s invitation to «broaden the spaces of rationality» is directed to all of society, although in a more specific way he was indicating for the Church the «path of a genuine evangelization» of the West.

The cardinal affirmed, «For theoretical reason, it is an effort not to limit human reason in the proper sense — reason which is capable of truth — to the empirical sciences, in keeping with a widespread tendency in the scientific and cultural world of today.»
«In the second place,» he added, «it is an effort to overcome what Benedict XVI calls ‘the dictatorship of relativism,’ understanding that also in the practical realm, in the moral realm, human reason is capable of grappling with reality, with objectivity, and not only with the desires and tendencies of the individual.»

Cardinal Ruini said that the obstacles that Christianity finds at present in its attempt to penetrate Western modernity have a double origin.
On one hand, he explained, it is «in Western modernity itself, which not only develops very fast — that already in itself indicates difficulties of adaptation — but which above all has had in many aspects from the beginning an orientation not too favorable to Christianity and, in particular, to Catholicism.»
«On the other hand,» the cardinal continued, «the difficulties also have their origin in the interior of the Church: in what we can honestly call a certain slowness in understanding the phenomena and appreciating the positive aspects, as well as the correct way of opposing those that are incompatible with the Christian faith.»
Moreover, the prelate referred to the emergence of «the new anthropological question» as «the greatest change.»
In this sense, he underlined the need of addressing «the great anthropological and ethical challenges» that «affect man as such and that have a dimension that is not only private but, necessarily, public.»
Among them the cardinal pointed out «those that refer to life and family, but also to other topics,» and he said that «these challenges require a new presence of the Church.»
As president of the cultural project of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ruini underlined his commitment to making the Church present in culture.
He concluded the interview by stating that at present he sees «a certain disproportion between Italian Catholics’ capacity for presence in the social field and, in particular, in the charitable field, and a certain weakness of their presence in culture.»

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