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Friday, February 17, 2006

Catholic Church must be involved in cultural debate, Pope Benedict tells editors

Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY – The Catholic Church must participate in modern cultural debates, finding ways to present enduring truths in a serious, yet accessible way, Pope Benedict XVI said during a Feb. 17 meeting with editors and staff of a Jesuit-run magazine.

La Civilta Cattolica is a Jesuit-run magazine founded by Pope Pius IX in 1850 and one that continues to be reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State before publication.

By writing about cultural, social and political issues, the pope said, the magazine helps the Catholic Church in its dialogue with the modern world, identifying positive trends and offering the guidance of the gospel.

Increasingly, modern culture is "closed to God and to his moral law, even if it is not always prejudicially adverse to Christianity," the pope said.

At the same time, he said, there are many signs of hope, including "the new sensitivity to religious values on the part of many men and women; renewed attention to sacred Scripture; respect for human rights to a greater degree than occurred even in the recent past; (and) the desire to dialogue with other religions."

In the face of such ambiguity, he said, "Catholics are called to make a great effort to develop the dialogue with modern culture and open it to the perennial values of the transcendent."

The mission of Civilta Cattolica said, is "to participate in the contemporary cultural debate both to propose, in a serious yet popular way, the truths of the Christian faith in a clear manner faithful to the magisterium of the church and to defend, without a polemical spirit, the truth, which is sometimes deformed, including through unfounded accusations against the church community."

Pope Benedict said the teaching of the Second Vatican Council is the "lighthouse" that should guide the magazine.

He said that although the council concluded 40 years ago its "doctrinal and pastoral riches" have not been fully appreciated.

"Undoubtedly, it gave the church an impulse capable of renewing it and preparing it to respond adequately to the new problems that contemporary culture raises," he said.

In addition, Pope Benedict said, the documents and statements of the Vatican and of bishops' conferences around the world in response to new concerns are a "living spring" the magazine can draw upon in its work.

The pope asked the magazine's staff to devote special energy to explaining and promoting the social teaching of the Catholic Church.

Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, superior general of the Jesuits, addressed the pope on behalf of the magazine's staff, telling him La Civilta Cattolica wants its work to be marked by fidelity to the Holy See and love for the church.

"At the beginning of the 21st century, new problems confront the church," he said.

Father Kolvenbach said the pope had outlined the problems in several of his writings, but particularly in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love).

"Our magazine intends to move along the lines indicated in the documents in the conviction that in them and through the action of the Holy Spirit" the church would be led and protected "through the joyful and the painful events of human history," Father Kolvenbach said.

  • Copyright (c) 2006 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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