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After the political changes in Romania in 1989, the Catholic Church could, at last, emerge from obscurity. In the archdiocese of Alba Julia it was decided straight away to create a house of studies, a centre for Catholic culture. Work began in 1991, with an investment of about 2.7 million deutsche marks and with support from more than 20 organisations, not to mention groups and private individuals. The centre was opened on the 17th of September 1996, and it bears the name of the diocese’s former bishop, Antal Jakab, who died some years ago.

The centre’s activities bear witness to a constant concern for the links between faith and culture, which are developed in a creative dialogue which aims to bring personal faith to maturity. It is available for all types of conferences, conventions, seminars and meetings, which are by no means always religious, and no distinctions are made on the basis of the religion or nationality of those organising such events, as long as they respect the nature of the centre. The centre has room for 120 people to stay overnight, and can accommodate several groups at the same time, since the conference hall can hold 200 people, and there are 5 seminar rooms and another 5 meeting rooms.

In 1997 the centre was host to 115 events, of which 45 had a religious theme. In 1998 there were 96 meetings, of which 31 were religious. 1999 looks even busier, with a much richer and more diversified programme. Each year more than 5000 people have been involved in the centre’s activities.

Some of the more significant meetings were the conference on A fresh understanding of the links between Church, democracy and culture in Romania, which was held in March 1997, who the Pontifical Council for Culture was represented, and the international meeting held there in October 1999 by Caritas, which was attended by the Apostolic Nuncio in Romania, Archbishop Jean-Claude Périsset.

In the words of its rector and director, who are both diocesan priests, "the centre corresponds to and responds to the expectations of Church and society. Its contribution is to bring together people of different religions and nationalities, which is something very important in a country like Romania". It is indeed a place of "listening, respect and tolerance" (Ecclesia in Africa, 103).

Information: Rev. András Elekes, "Jakab Antal" Centre, Str. Szék 147, RO-4100 MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania. Tel: +40-66-172.126, fax: +40-66-172.145, E-mail:



Issue 17 of the series Sette e Religioni, published at the beginning of 1999 in Bologna by the Dominicans, is an Italian translation of a book written in Portuguese by an Italian missionary priest, Ettore Frisotti, who died in summer 1998. The original was called Passos no Dialogo, published in São Paulo in 1996, and was dedicated to the author’s parents as well as a certain "François", Father François de l’Espinay, who had been a co-founder with Ivan Illich of the Cuernavaca Intercultural Centre in Mexico and later went to Brazil, where he lived an unusual life in dialogue with Candomblé, even becoming a member of the Xangô Council. His conviction that there was no difficulty in accepting both Christianity and Candomblé simultaneously is what led Ettore Frisotti to make his own investigations into the subject. Frisotti, in turn, became convinced that it is simplistic to think of Candomblé as syncretistic.

This translation has a very informative brief introduction by the editor of the Italian missionary magazine Nigrizia, an explanatory note by Father Fiorenzo Forani o.p., and a glossary of Candomblé technical terms. Frisotti’s introduction sets the book in the context of ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue which has grown and become a normal part of Church life since the 1960s. Furthermore, he points out the importance of the changes in the way the Church has been present on the American continent, and parallel changes in society and culture, particularly in Latin America. He also emphasises how African theologians can shed a great deal of light on the traditional African religions which have taken root in Brazil. He clearly wishes to present an optimistic vision of the possibilities of their co-existence with Christianity. He speaks, in his conclusion, of "a new way of looking at things" (p. 120), which is still being put together, guided by the experience of Latin American popular cultures, the witness of the adherents of Afro-Brasilian religions and the reflections of African theologians, all of which warn against imposing a Western cultural matrix on other situations. He goes on to say that "cultural alterity" demands that we accept not only different cultural liturgical expressions, but also different ways of understanding Scripture and doctrine: "we must take off our sandals in every holy place, even when it seems… not to correspond to the image of the altars to which we are accustomed" (p. 121). The key to judging the approach may lie in the final paragraph, where Frisotti insists it is necessary to reconstruct both knowledge and reality (cf. p. 124). Just what he means by "reconstructing" is very significant.

The chapter which focuses most clearly on inculturation is the third, on "Faith, religion and cultures", which includes twelve theses on societies, cultures and religions, and sections on religion as a cultural "moment", religion in Africa and how to interpret traditional African religion. There is also a short section on inculturation in the second chapter, entitled "the ecclesial way in Latin America".

Inculturation in the Latin American context is presented here as a style or way of living appropriate to the Christian message, very much the signs and gestures of a genuinely poor Church, of which the CELAM conference at Medellín had spoken. In this section Frisotti enumerates various examples of inculturation of the Church and of the Gospel, various ways in which the poor peoples of the world had found their own images of God. The main figures in this process in Brazil are Paulo Suess, the founder of the Porantim journal, who emphasised the role of indigenous peoples in evangelisation, and Marcelo de C. Azevedo and Francisco Taborda, who had seen inculturation in terms of the approach of Basic Ecclesial Communities and religious life. A number of "theological study weeks", held under the aegis of the CNBB, the Brazilian National Bishops’ Conference, have addressed the theme of inculturation and liberation; for some it is the evangeliser or missionary who carries out the work of inculturation while, for others, it is the task of Latin American communities, black people, women or the poor. Frisotti provides ample bibliography on this subject.

Just as the eleventh of Karl Marx’ Theses on Feuerbach is the one which has always attracted most interest, it is the eleventh of Frisotti’s "Twelve Theses on Societies, Cultures and Religions" which is most significant in this context. God is mentioned in theses three and nine; religion is the topic in theses ten and eleven, and is implicitly at the heart of thesis twelve. Thesis eleven states that one ought to view the cultures and religions in a society: in a state of continuous transformation, set in motion by internal and external stimuli; in their conflicts, inasmuch as they are not a harmonious unity and do not tend to equilibrium; never as something pure or isolated, because they mould individual behaviour much more than it moulds them. "Culture does not change because of individual action, but because of the action of groups and the exercise of power" (p. 82). In the next section, Frisotti suggests that religion is a "moment" in every culture, part of a cultural situation and always linked to some sense of dialogue and covenant between God and a community. In this sense it is always "necessary to reflect also on a community and on its history in order to understand a religion" (p. 84), although an ambiguity can arise from identifying a religion with a whole people, and ignoring its inner conflicts. It is suggested that even the expression "the faith of Christians" ought to be replaced with a way of referring to the faith of particular social groups which have their own experience of faith. The section on religion in Africa is a good summary of the ways genuinely African expressions of faith have gradually pushed further and further into the background so many prejudices of foreign commentators. Frisotti quotes a great many sources, including Bishop Anselme Sanon of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Bishop Peter Kwesi Sarpong of Kumasi in Ghana, who gave the keynote address at the Pontifical Council’s symposium in Kenya in 1998. With the evidence he assembles, Frisotti makes the point that African traditional religions can offer Christianity a worthy enrichment, because they all hinge on the conviction that life is a unity, without any division between sacred and profane. They have a very rich symbolism, which bridges the gap between the visible and the invisible; they set great store by the sacredness of human life, stressing that the human being is human above all when he or she is part of a community. In discussing how best to interpret African religion, Frisotti follows the Zairean Jesuit Boka di Mpasi and the Kenyan writer John Mbiti; their approach is useful in coming to understand Brazil’s terreiros, because of the value placed on oral tradition and the way they see death and the relationship with our ancestors, as well as the interaction between the visible and invisible worlds, the way of understanding and living time, and so on.

This is a provocative book, which will force its readers to react, but it also is a clue to the understanding of many Christians in Brazil of the relationship between their African cultural heritage and the Christian religion. This is a matter of great concern as much to those who do not agree with Frisotti as to those who do.

Source: Sette e Religioni volume 17, January to March 1/1999, Year IX.



José de Jesús Castellanos, director del semanario "Nuevo criterio", órgano informativo cercano a la arquidiócesis de México, ha ofrecido una entrevista a la agencia ZENIT sobre el primer episodio de la nueva trilogía de George Lukas, el film "La guerra de las galaxias".

"Nuestras preocupaciones son dos – afirmó el director – "La primera relativa al fenómeno de la "New Age", corriente que se difunde de numerosas maneras y que en esta película presenta diversas expresiones de orientalismo, sincretismo de religiones, pérdida de la noción de Dios, sustituyéndola por la vaga idea de "La Fuerza", lo mismo que con el mal "el lado oscuro", las pequeñas partículas microscópicas que dan la vida y están difusas en el universo, etcétera. Todas estas ideas son contrarias a las creencias de los católicos, que creemos en un Dios personal, uno y trino."

"Además, en el contexto de la película, se usan una serie de expresiones, personajes o situaciones que puede pensarse que son tomados analógicamente de la Biblia, como es el caso de la "madre virgen" de Anakin, personaje central de la película, de quien se dice que es el anunciado por la profecía, el que ha de establecer la armonía con "La Fuerza", y se interroga si es el que habrá de venir o hay que esperar a otro. Lo mismo ocurre con el personaje que representa al mal, un diablo en su expresión y sus múltiples cuernos."

"Esto se enlaza con nuestra segunda preocupación: invitar a los católicos a desarrollar una percepción crítica frente a la cultura de la imagen, como reiteradamente ha pedido la Iglesia."

El propio Lukas, en entrevista a la revista "Time" del 26 de abril pasado dijo: "Yo veo "Star Wars" como tomando todas las fuentes que la religión representa y tratando de disolver esto en algo más moderno y fácilmente accesible, que hay un gran misterio allí afuera. Recuerdo que cuando tenía 10 años pregunté a mi madre "¿Si sólo hay un Dios, por qué hay tantas religiones?". Yo he estado meditando esto desde entonces y la conclusión a la que he llegado es que todas las religiones son verdaderas". Y agregó: "Cuando yo escribí la primera trilogía de "Star Wars", yo había entrado en una total cosmología: ¿Por qué la gente cree? Yo había hecho algo que era relevante, algo que imitaba un sistema de creencias que ha durado durante cientos de años y la mayoría de la gente en el planeta, de una manera u otra, tenían relación con esto. Yo no quise inventar una religión, yo quería explicar de una manera diferente las religiones que han existido. Yo quise expresarlas todas".

Esta es la síntesis de la New Age.

¿Puede ayudar la película a estimular la búsqueda de valores espirituales para llenar el vacío de Dios del hombre contemporáneo? "Creo que difícilmente la película ayuda a un encuentro con Dios", dice Castellanos, "más bien lo diluye y lo sustituye. Los hombres sencillos del campo decían en el pasado a los que se despedían de ellos: "Vaya con Dios" y nuestros padres nos bendecían al dejar el hogar. Hoy sin pensar lo que se dice, no son pocos los que exclaman: "¡Que la Fuerza te acompañe!". Podríamos afirmar que en la cultura "light" de nuestro tiempo, el vacío espiritual se llena con un "neopaganismo" que en el fondo no implica una afirmación contundente, sino vaga de un "misterio exterior" que ni se define ni lleva a mayores consecuencias, que quizá tranquiliza conciencias, pero que a fin de cuentas no implica una definición, una aceptación, un compromiso, una vivencia, una relación con Dios."

Cf. Zenit, 18-7-1999.



The situation in schools in Britain changed dramatically in the late 1960s and the 1970s. The first factor was the change in religious identity of many communities, which were no longer monolithically Christian. This was particularly the case in cities with large immigrant communities from the Indian sub-continent and the Caribbean. A second factor was the shift in educational theory to child-centred methods. Ideas on religious education reflect arguments on the best methods in education generally. The period in question was also marked by a "passionate critique of authoritarian attitudes" and a decline in church membership; hostile groups felt more confident to criticise the privileged place given to Christianity. There was also greater emphasis in universities on phenomenological or comparative studies of religions on their own terms. A major development was the agreement that the task of schools was to be clearly distinguished from that of faith communities; thus, it has never been required since then that a religious education specialist should be a believer. "What this amounts to is a demand that RE be given its place in the curriculum on educational rather than religious grounds".

More recently, it has been observed that "pupils learn from religion as well as about it"; the teacher of RE is "not meant professionally to be an advocate of Christianity"; the national documents envisage RE in non-denominational schools as an experience shared by members of different faiths simultaneously: "children of all faiths learn together about all faiths, and from all faiths", but deliberately not in an atmosphere of debate or syncretism; "the object of the exercise is neither to generate religious belief nor to undermine it": it is not about persuasion or dissuasion, but aims at maximising awareness, sensitivity and accurate discernment, self-criticism and a recognition of the contribution of spiritual traditions to one’s society.

Some have found this situation intolerable because they see it as confusing, but its supporters argue against separatism, effectively "a tribal attitude towards God and people of other faiths", something often compared to racism and sexism. Some are pleased because they see multi-faith RE as a useful way of reducing and relativising the truth-claims of all faiths, but children are inevitably faced with truth-questions even in a non-doctrinaire approach. From a Christian point of view, such an approach can test the idea of Christian love, which should be happy neither with separatism nor with a "laissez-faire" or hyper-tolerant refusal to engage with what is precious to the other person. "The need for dialogue arises… from the concern for truth and the commitment to love". As for who should practise RE, perhaps clergy are less well equipped than lay people, since it can be far more difficult for them "to reach an instinctive understanding of what every secular teacher knows – that in contemporary Britain, religious belonging is never something to be taken for granted". Surviving and making the most of life in the next millennium will require skills of dialogue which really can cope positively with the unavoidably omni-present reality of global connectedness where fear is totally destructive. "My hope is that the children we are now educating will be helped by the current practices in the area of religious and moral education to be adult citizens of a more fruitful world than we have so far managed to create".

Source: Elizabeth Templeton in Religion, State and Society, volume 27, number 1, March 1999, pp. 73-81.



¿Qué doctrina social para Europa? ¿En qué modo los obispos y las conferencias episcopales pueden influir sobre las naciones europeas para lograr una buena política? ¿Cómo hacer para renovar y vivificar los valores cristianos de la Vieja Europa?

Preguntas importantes a las que ha tratado de responder el obispo Attilio Nicora, representante de Italia en el Consejo de los Episcopados de los Países de la Unión Europea (COMECE). Interviniendo el domingo en la "Jornada benedictina y europea", organizada con ocasión del milenario del convento benedictino de Vallombrosa (en la provincia de Florencia, Italia), monseñor Nicora ha sugerido que hace falta "defender toda la doctrina social de la Iglesia pero no todos dan al conjunto de esta doctrina la importancia debida. Hay algunos que por defender la vida no defienden a los pobres, y otros que por defender a los pobres no defienden la vida…".

Hablando de la Unión Europea, monseñor Nicora ha precisado que "está fuera de duda que la aportación del cristianismo a la idea y a la caracterización de Europa ha sido grande". Son dos los pilares sobre los que se apoya la identificación: el episcopado y el monaquismo. El episcopado ha plasmado las identidades nacionales. El monaquismo ha favorecido una red de comunicaciones de la espiritualidad y de la cultura.

Entre los valores difundidos por los episcopados y los monjes, monseñor Nicora ha recordado: "la idea de la persona humana derivada de su vocación trascendente; el trabajo como humanización del hombre y generador de progreso; la cultura entendida como síntesis de lo humano, lo sacro y lo bello; la irreductibilidad de lo religioso a lo civil; la lógica del servicio como finalidad última y límite intrínseco del poder político; un orden social fundado sobre la justicia templada por los rasgos de la piedad y enriquecida por la laboriosidad de la caridad cristiana, la conciencia de ser un pueblo".

Monseñor Nicora ha destacado, sin embargo, que la Europa actual está lejos de estos valores: "Está viviendo un repliegue negativo y desconfiado, del que deriva la caída demográfica, el pensamiento débil, la reducción de lo religioso a lo privado, el consumismo, la escasa responsabilidad hacia el resto del mundo y la humanidad, y sobre todo la falta de esperanzas civiles". Frente a estos signos nefastos hay otros positivos sobre los que monseñor Nicora ha invitado a los católicos a reflexionar. Hace falta tener conciencia – ha dicho el obispo – de que cada vez que el mundo parecía acabar, no acababa el mundo, sino un mundo, y se podía construir otro.

En el plano de los valores, de hecho los católicos "poseen la antropología vencedora" y pueden contar con la gracia, mientras que en el plano de las instituciones "no existe una realidad tan difundida sobre el territorio como la Iglesia; un número de parroquias impresionante, arraigadas y populares, que funcionando bien serían una potencialidad enorme". Respecto a los elementos positivos, monseñor Nicora ha indicado también los lazos entre episcopados y la acción institucional de la Santa Sede y el Papa "un fenómeno del que ningún otro puede gozar". Recursos enormes que los cristianos podrían usar mejor si a veces no se perdieran "en el localismo exasperado y en el personalismo ceñudo". Para acabar, monseñor Nicora ha expresado el deseo de "traducir los valores en cultura, identificar una más precisa proyectualidad y relanzar la idea de la causa."

Cf. Zenit, 20-7-1999.



"We are facing the largest growth of esoteric cults and occult sciences that Western culture has known," Cardinal Dario Castrillon, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy, said at a ceremony in which he received a doctorate "honoris causa" from the Autonomous Popular University of the State of Puebla, Mexico.

"Today the world of religions has become a supermarket where commercial interest counts above all." In order to illustrate his point, the Colombian Cardinal gave some significant data: In Europe and the United States, the number of registered astrologers is three times larger than all physicists and chemists combined. In France alone, there are over 50,000 fortune-tellers’ consultation centers. "The proliferation of sects is a notable phenomenon throughout the world, not just in America. And we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg that is coming," he added.

The Cardinal went on to analyze the other phenomenon that characterizes the end of the millennium. "The men of the 20th century have created a new kind of atheism: the atheism of indifference that distances man from God far more than the radical and militant atheism that confronted religion. Today man dispenses with God and intellectuals label themselves agnostics because they have not even asked themselves about the choice they must make before God."

Cardinal Castrillon defined contemporary atheism as "narcissistic atheism", which results in a model of culture and civilization built on the "mega-temptation" of wanting to conceive a world without God where man is the absolute.

The apparent contradiction of these two movements (esoteric and narcissistic atheism), stems from the new cultural model that tries to impose itself at the end of the century and that proposes the rejection of reason in favor of emotions. "In a society where there is a glut of information, and man receives an avalanche of unclassified stimulation, it is normal to take the easy way to survival by drifting, without major worries, passing from idea to idea without any problem."

It is a phenomenon whose origins are based on a new concept of liberty. "The negative liberty of the absence of limitations, instead of understanding liberty as self-determination and capacity to integrate oneself." The result of this principle is self-evident: a new morality and an impoverished idea of man, who has become one more animal, without a spirit.

Oddly enough, this state of affairs offers the Church an historic opportunity. "To put forward religion once again, based on truth, and offering solutions to the important problems that contemporary philosophy does not address, like the question of death, and the meaning of life."

The cardinal concluded that with Pope John Paul II at the head, the Catholic Church can count on strong moral leadership which is the great alternative to these new cultural models.

Cf. Zenit, 26-8-1999.



Bajo el título Tercer Milenio y Nueva Evangelización, el Arzobispo Coadjutor de La Plata, Argentina, Monseñor Héctor Aguer, dictó el 2 septiembre una conferencia a un numeroso auditorio en la ciudad de Lima. El encuentro, organizado por el Instituto Vida y Espiritualidad, fue una ocasión para profundizar en las enseñanzas del Magisterio a las puertas del nuevo milenio y los desafíos que éste trae.

Al iniciar la conferencia, Monseñor Aguer señaló la necesidad de entender el sentido profundo de las palabras "Nueva Evangelización" y "Tercer Milenio" para no convertirlas en un slogan "sin contenido". Al respecto, afirmó que ambos términos están ligados a la preparación para la celebración del Gran Jubileo, que preparan a la Iglesia para afrontar las características del mundo por venir.

La Nueva Evangelización, recordó, "no es una re-evangelización, sino nueva en su ardor, métodos y expresión", que al mismo tiempo "nos remite a la Primera Evangelización, que cristianizó nuestro pueblo latinoamericano" y que requiere que ese primer impulso sea completado. "Debemos hablar – añadió – de Nueva Evangelización en el sentido de un nuevo impulso de esa única Evangelización y debemos inscribir la nueva en la continuidad de la Primera Evangelización".

El Prelado argentino desarrolló cinco problemas "crónicos" que "llaman a la acción pastoral ordinaria de la vida de la Iglesia" en vistas a la Nueva Evangelización en el tercer milenio. El primero de estos problemas, señaló, es la brecha existente entre el número de bautizados y el número de los denominados "practicantes". En segundo lugar, habló de una "religiosidad popular no suficientemente evangelizada". Ésta, con todo lo positivo que tiene, debe promoverse y armonizarse adecuadamente con la fe de la Iglesia, para evitar ciertas "situaciones de ambigüedad".

Como un tercer problema crónico indicó la decadencia moral como "tono de vida de la población". Señaló que "el fenómeno secularista implica la decisión, como hecho cultural, de vivir como si Dios no existiese, de una manera completamente "unidimensional"". En una sociedad con esas características "el consenso termina determinando qué es el bien y qué el mal de manera pragmática, sin referencias a los bienes esenciales de la naturaleza humana y a la ley positiva de Dios".

"La fragilidad creciente de la vida familiar" y "la ausencia de los laicos católicos en los centros donde se gestan las nuevas vigencias culturales" fueron los otros dos temas abordados por el Prelado argentino durante la conferencia, luego de la cual respondió diversas preguntas hechas por los participantes.

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 3-9-1999.



Le 29 juillet 1999 disparut le Prof. P. Gellért Békés OSB (né le 3 janvier 1915 à Budapest, Hongrie), personnage remarquable de la culture catholique. Sa longue vie de 85 ans fut un don non seulement pour l’Université Pontificale Sant’Anselmo de Rome, où il fut d’abord étudiant (de 1933 à 1940), puis professeur pendant 48 ans (de 1946 à 1994). Mais aussi, il lui incomba d’en être le doyen (de 1963 à 1967, puis de 1971 à 1977), le vice-recteur (de 1972 à 1974), le vice-prieur (de 1977 à 1980) et le prieur (de 1980 à 1983). En outre, dans les années 1946 à 1966 il fut Procurateur Général de la Congrégation Bénédictine Hongroise, pendant une trentaine d’années il fut le Supérieur Majeur des Bénédictins de la Congrégation Bénédictine Hongroise en exil (de 1957 à 1991). Après son retour dans sa chère patrie, en Hongrie, il travailla inlassablement, poursuivant son activité culturelle, scientifique et pastorale jusqu’aux dernières heures de sa vie.

Son infatigable activité dans le domaine de la culture est considérable. Sa traduction du Nouveau Testament (en commun avec le Père Patrik Dalos) en langue hongroise moderne, a connu une diffusion mondiale avec dix réimpressions jusqu’à l’" Annus Mirabilis " 1989 (avec 500.000 copies), et six autres réimpressions en Hongrie après 1989 (environ 500.000 copies).

Il fut rédacteur en chef de la revue catholique des Hongrois Katolikus Szemle, édité à Rome de 1949 à 1995. Au début des années cinquante il était responsable de cette publication trimestrielle comparable à la Civiltà Cattolica, qui fut le point de référence des Hongrois durant les décennies difficiles du communisme.

Également, en tant que théologien de l’œcuménisme, P. Gérard était d’une nature vive, optimiste, d’une activité exemplaire pour un professeur romain. Sa Bibliographie depuis 1994 se trouve dans les Mélanges Gerardo J. Békés OSB octogenario dedicata, Vol. I.: Unum omnes in Christo. In unitatis servitio, Pannonhalma 1995, pp. 63–80. Sur son activité on peut voir les contributions de Richard J. Cleary OSB, Péter Sárközy et Jos E. Vercruysse SJ, dans le volume Mille anni di storia dell’Arciabbazia di Pannonhalma, à la charge de József Pál et Ádám Somorjai, Académie Hongroise de Rome - METEM, Roma-Pannonhalma, 1997.



"La historia de la música presenta un caudal de obras inspiradas por la fe cristiana; son expresión de una fe hecha cultura", señaló Monseñor Héctor Aguer, Arzobispo Coadjutor de La Plata, refiriéndose al ciclo "Música y Oración" que se inició el 29 de setiembre en La Plata. La iniciativa comenzó impulsada por Monseñor Aguer, siendo Obispo Auxiliar de Buenos Aires, en dicha ciudad. Este año se realizará por primera vez en la La Plata.

"Con el ciclo "Música y Oración" – explicó el Prelado argentino – nos proponemos, precisamente, devolver al templo y a la celebración litúrgica aquellas obras maestras de todos los tiempos compuestas para ese fin. No se trata de una serie de conciertos; deseamos situar la ejecución de las obras en un clima contemplativo, de oración. La belleza sensible que brota de ellas y que se hace disponible para todos, nos encamina a la percepción de la suma Belleza, que es Dios".

"Para nosotros – concluyó el Arzobispo – es un honor y un deber promover el conocimiento del patrimonio musical de la Iglesia y ponerlo a disposición, no sólo de los fieles, sino de todas las personas que aprecian los genuinos valores culturales".

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 17-9-1999.



"Si falta la adhesión a Cristo, la inculturación de la fe puede fácilmente volverse en su contra, es decir, en una mundanización del cristianismo", advirtió durante su intervención en la Asamblea Especial del Sínodo de Obispos para Europa el Cardenal Camillo Ruini, Vicario general del Papa Juan Pablo II para la diócesis de Roma y Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal Italiana.

El Cardenal Ruini añadió que la forma de inculturar el Evangelio – sobre todo ante una situación de galopante secularismo como la que vive Europa –, debe encaminarse a "hacer visible, casi tangible en la propia vida cotidiana la presencia de Cristo y el amor por la humanidad". Él insistió durante su intervención en la necesidad de una "formación cristiana auténtica y profunda" por parte de los miembros de la Iglesia.



This year commemorates the 450th anniversary of St. Francis Xavier’s arrival in Japan. He landed on Kagoshima on 15 August 1549. For some time Sophia University in Tokyo, whose roots go back to St. Francis himself and his companions in the Society of Jesus, has been working to make this anniversary a most meaningful event for the future of the Catholic Church in Japan. Through the international symposium organized by Sophia University for December 1999 – Cardinal Peter Shirayanagi, Archbishop of Tokyo said – Japan is going to consider once again, what was the European culture represented by St. Francis Xaver.

St. Francis Xavier’s coming to Asia was the beginning of a new cultural exchange between Europe and Asia. Xavier came to an Asia which already had a long and diversified culture of its own. The Asian world reacted differently to European elements: things such as science or technology were well accepted but other things such as religion and cultural ideas were simply rejected or transformed by already existing ones. However, 16th century Christianity undoubtedly became a part of Japanese History: though the Japanese rejected Christianity as a religion, they accepted Western Culture.

Focusing the symposium "on not only the historical figure of St. Francis Xavier, but also on 16th century European culture’s encounter with traditional Japanese culture, we can all be enlightened on the problems we are facing now in this new century, that is, the acceptance of co-existence with various kinds of people, religion and culture" concluded Cardinal Shirayanagi.

Cf. L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English, 22-9-1999.



"La Universidad está en el corazón mismo de la tarea evangelizadora de la Iglesia", afirmó Monseñor Pedro Rubiano Sáenz, Arzobispo de Bogotá, quien presidió la Eucaristía de acción de gracias por los 20 años de la fundación de la Universidad de la Sabana, creada "para que fuera lugar de encuentro, puente para el diálogo entre la fe y la cultura".

"Una Universidad debe recrear, aquí en Colombia, en este final del siglo, la aspiración de la Iglesia, de que la fe impregne la inteligencia y el corazón del hombre, – fides quaerens intellectum – para convertirse en vida; una fe que lleve a encontrar en cada momento de la historia, la síntesis con la cultura del pueblo, dentro del cual se encarna", afirmó en su homilía el Prelado.

Recordando el magisterio del Papa Juan Pablo II, el Arzobispo de Bogotá destacó la importancia de esta síntesis entre la fe y la cultura. "Una fe que no se hace cultura… es una fe que no es plenamente acogida, enteramente pensada o fielmente vivida. Y la Universidad de inspiración cristiana es el lugar adecuado para la realización de esa síntesis", señaló.

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 25-9-1999.



The 4th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Trialogue of Cultures was held at Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, near Frankfurt in Germany, from the 2nd. to the 4th. of October 1999. The Trialogue is an initiative sponsored by the Herbert Quandt Foundation, a charitable arm of Altana AG. It was established in 1996 as a response to two "partially contradictory developments encountered at the end of the 20th century: the assertion of a clash of civilisations and the idea of the globalization of markets", a situation where "contacts between the cultures and exchanges between the traditions and values which they draw upon are dramatically gaining in significance". The aim is to produce "an international forum on the various social, political and religious currents, convictions and developments in the cultures, peoples and states which are rooted in the three monotheistic world religions" and "a dialogue between people and institutions in the Middle East as well as in Eastern and Western Europe". This is done through conferences, lecture series and discussion groups which involve media, universities, private-sector organisations and other opinion-formers.

Most members of the Standing Committee are academics or diplomats, or influential media people like the chairman, Lord George Weidenfeld, the London-based publisher. Some members are involved in interreligious or intercultural dialogue, and a few represent the Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. This year Father Peter Fleetwood, of the Pontifical Council for Culture, was invited as a link between the Trialogue and the Holy See.

The superb atmosphere of the meeting was due to the excellent preparation and input from the Altana staff who run the Herbert Quandt Foundation under the guidance of Herr Wolfgang Assmann. Lord Weidenfeld set the scene optimistically, convinced that the more congenial political leadership in the Middle East is a sign of a real chance for a breakthrough in Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. But he also noted the relapse into barbarism in Africa, Asia and – more recently – in Europe. Both aspects underline the need for what he called "religious and cultural involvement". The meeting was meant to "put people in touch with each other". In this it was singularly successful; informative and encouraging information was exchanged concerning current projects in various arts of the world, ranging from football summer schools in London (designed to introduce young Jews and Muslims to each other and to each other’s traditions) to a network of computer-based youth centres being set up in the Palestinian authority, as well as many conferences and other more original events. Many of the ideas put forward expressed great hope, though others regretted the enormous difficulties encountered in intercultural and interreligious relations.

Media, school curricula and global ethics were discussed at the end of the meeting. An ambitious conference planned to take place in Amman in February 2000 will address relations between the media and Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is also hoped to produce a model curriculum for high-school age children, which would favour mutual understanding for the three major religions. Unfortunately, very few people in the group seemed aware of many similar initiatives already under way in different parts of the world. It was decided to abandon a specific project on ethics.

The Trialogue offers great scope and hope. It brought out very clearly how many and how varied programmes for children can and should be. A sad fact was the silence of the Palestinians present, possible their sensitivity to a delicately balanced group. But if proof was ever needed of the power for good of networking, here it is.

Information: Sinclair-Haus, Löwengasse 15, D–61348 Bad Homburg v.d. Höhe. Tel: +49-6172-66550. Fax +49-6172-665523. E-mail:



On 20 October 1999, the Council had a surprise visit from Vikas Gora, from the Atheist Centre in Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) in India, accompanied by Chiniya Lal Duwal, his colleague from Nepal. After being welcomed by Father Gergely Kovács, they met Father Peter Fleetwood, who spent some time talking with them about the Pontifical Council for Culture’s responsibility for dialogue with non-believers, and about the work of the atheist group in India represented by Vikas Gora. In a very pleasant and cordial spirit, discussions ranged from simple reporting of the actual state of things, to an explanation of why people are becoming tired of what is perceived as the oppressive side of religion in the Indian sub-continent and elsewhere in Asia. There seems to be evidence of the expansion of this opinion in the growing number of participants in atheist summer youth camps in India. When Father Fleetwood asked whether it is fair to lump together all religious phenomena and criticise every religious group in the same way, it was interesting to be told of the respect these atheists have for Christians, including a Catholic bishop who had helped Vikas obtain a visa to come to Italy, and – especially – Mother Teresa, who is evidently held in very high esteem. Quite curiously, the visitors to the Council had come straight there from the Pope’s general audience, which they seemed quite pleased to have attended. It was agreed that contact should be maintained and reviews exchanged. Mr. Gora left some literature from the centre where he operates, which was founded by his grandfather Gora at Mudunur village in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Its current work involves counselling, promotion of inter-caste links (especially marriages), fighting superstition, witchcraft and sorcery, promotion of a scientific mentality, ecology, secular and humanist education, sex education and family planning (especially the promotion of small families). There are also programmes to deal with health, the eradication of the jogini system, rehabilitation of criminals, and the promotion of secular humanist values through art and culture.



Le droit à l’existence implique, pour toute nation, le droit à sa propre langue et à sa culture. La vie en commun, la coexistence des diverses cultures implique le respect mutuel entre les cultures, la reconnaissance des particularités culturelles et exige un " dialogue qui s’enrichit réciproquement de valeurs et d’expériences " (Jean-Paul II, Rencontre avec les hommes de culture, Rio de Janeiro, Brésil le 1.7.1980).

Avec cette devise, eut lieu à Rome, dans le Collège Pontifical Germanique et Hongrois, la journée hongroise, le " Dies Hungaricus ", organisée lors de la fête solennelle du Christ-Roi-de-l’Univers. L’objectif de ces réjouissances, qui ont lieu une fois par an, est celui de faire connaître aux séminaristes et aux sacerdoces des différents pays qui vivent ensemble dans le collège (Allemands, Autrichiens, Suisses, Luxembourgeois, Croates et Slovènes) la culture hongroise.

Les 32 élèves d’origine et de nationalité hongroise du Collège, en provenance de la Hongrie, de la Roumanie (Transylvanie), de l’Ukraine et de la Vojvodine proposèrent à l’ensemble de la communauté un programme très riche. La journée s’est ouverte par la Sainte-Messe célébrée dans la langue officielle du Collège, l’allemand, dite par le père spirituel hongrois, P. Laszló Vértesaljai SJ, lequel prononça aussi l’homélie. Au cours de cette messe, les chants en hongrois furent comme un clin d’œil donné à la Patrie.

La dimension culturelle de cette journée fut plus intense par rapport à celles des années précédentes. Les élèves hongrois ont présentés, à travers des diapositives et de la musique, les régions dont ils sont originaires. Sur une carte géographique, exposée dans le hall, des petits drapeaux signalaient d’ailleurs ces localités. Une fois la partie purement culturelle close, le couple de danseurs Katalin et Gábor Horváth ont présenté une floraison de danses folkloriques hongroises. La journée hongroise s’est terminée sous l’emblème de la " culture culinaire ", c’est-à-dire par un repas typique des fêtes à la " hongroise ".

Les organisateurs du " Dies Hungaricus " sont convaincus que l’événement constitue un moment capital non seulement dans la vie du collège, mais aussi pour les personnes singulières qui y ont participé. Connaître les autres cultures, ses valeurs spécifiques, aide également à se rapprocher les uns des autres. La journée hongroise a démontré aussi que " chaque culture est ouverte à l’universel par le meilleur d’elle-même " (Conseil Pontifical de la Culture, Pour une pastorale de la culture, 10).