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Pope Urges Pastors to Be Cultural Teachers

Says God Must Be Reference Point in Education

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging priests to be well educated in culture, keeping the faith as a reference point, so as to help parishioners form mature human and Christian personalities.

The Pope affirmed this in a meeting last Thursday with parish priests of the Diocese of Rome, a Lenten tradition, in which he answered their questions and concerns.

He asserted, “A parish in which only games are played and drinks are shared would be absolutely superfluous.”

“The meaning of a parish,” he emphasized, should be “the cultural, human and Christian formation” of each personality, helping each person achieve maturity.

The Pontiff pointed out the “cultural poverty” seen in many people who possess knowledge, but lack “inner unity.”

The function of the parish, he explained, is to help each person to “find an integral human formation that completes his personality.”

He continued: “And for this reason, naturally, the priest as teacher must himself be well formed and be positioned in today’s culture, rich in culture, to also help young people enter into a culture inspired by faith.”

The reference point of this education and knowledge, said the Holy Father, must be God. Without God at the center, he said, “science can also be dangerous for man, because without more profound ethical guidelines, it leaves man to his own free will and, consequently, without the necessary orientation to really become a man.”

Faith must be at the heart of all cultural formation, he affirmed, “to know the face of God, which has been shown to us in Christ and thus to have the orientation point for the rest of culture, which otherwise is disoriented and becomes disorienting.”

He added: “A culture without personal knowledge of God, and without knowledge of the face of God in Christ, is a culture that could even be destructive, because it does not know the necessary ethical guidelines.

“In this sense, I believe, we really have a mission of profound cultural and human formation, which opens to all the riches of the culture of our time, but which gives the criterion, the discernment to test what is true culture and what could become anti-cultural.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text of question and answer: www.zenit.org/article-25275?l=english

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