Evangelization Needs Dialogue With Modernity, Says Pope

Addresses Staff of La Civiltà Cattolica

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- One must be able to correctly interpret the “signs of the times” in order to transmit the teachings of the Church effectively, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made that observation today during an audience with the staff of the biweekly review La Civiltà Cattolica.

Pope Pius IX instituted the review in 1850, making it the longest-running publication in Italy today, and granted it a statute that links it to the Holy See. For this reason, drafts of the biweekly review are reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State before publication.

Benedict XVI, who acknowledged his appreciation for the Jesuit-run review, reminded those present that in our time “the Lord Jesus calls his Church to announce with a new impulse the Gospel of salvation.”

This requires one to present “in efficient ways the announcement of the Good News” in accord with “the historical situation in which men and women live today,” the Holy Father said.

Modern culture, he said in his address, is becoming more “a culture characterized by individualistic relativism and positivist scientism,” a culture that tends to be “closed to God and his moral law, if not always hostile to Christianity.”

For this reason, the Pontiff said, Catholics are called to make a put forth a great effort “in order to develop the dialogue with the current culture and open it to the perennial values of transcendence.”


Benedict XVI added that the current panorama also presents “many signs of hope, fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit.”

Those promising signs, he said, include “the new sensitivity for religious values,” “the renewed attention to the sacred Scripture,” an increased respect for human rights, and “the will to dialogue with other religions.”

“In particular,” he said, “faith in Jesus can help many to accept the meaning of life and the human adventure, offering them those reference points that they often lack in a frenetic and disoriented world.”

“It is here, then, where the mission of a culture review like La Civiltà Cattolica is placed,” said Benedict XVI, “to participate in the modern cultural debate; to propose, in a serious and at the same time educational manner, the truths of the Christian faith in a clear way, and at the same time in a way that is faithful to the magisterium of the Church; to defend without a polemical spirit the truth, at times also deformed by accusations lacking foundations to the Church community.”

As a “guiding light” for the magazine, the Pope suggested the Second Vatican Council, whose “doctrinal and pastoral” richness, and “fundamental inspiration has not yet been fully assimilated by the Christian community.”

The work of the magazine “is about revealing and supporting the action of the Church in all areas of its mission,” he said.

The Holy Father, who before concluding “confirmed the confidence of the Holy See toward the review,” pointed out the need to spread the social doctrine of the Church, “one of the topics that in the 155 years” of the review, it has treated “with greater amplitude.”

Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits, thanked the Pope for the audience with staff of La Civiltà Cattolica.

The encounter, Father Kolvenbach said, is “for all of us a sign of esteem for the work of our magazine carried out at the service of the Holy See … and at the same time an encouragement to proceed with diligence in our humble service.”

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