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This newsletter is the printed voice of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), an umbrella organisation for secular and free-thinking groups throughout the world. It provides information on developments in national humanist societies, news items on "rationalist" victories over what are presented as various forms of obscurantism, discussions on what "humanism" means, articles by invited contributors and progress reports on how effectively humanism and humanists are being represented at fairly high-level international meetings.

In the sphere of humanist developments in different countries, there have been articles on the Centre d’Action Laïque in Belgium, the free-thinking tradition in Argentina, humanist hopes for the resolution of conflict in Northern Ireland, the Bihar Rationalist Society, "humanist and cultural" centres like the Thomas Paine Coffee House in San Diego (California) and African-American humanists. There is news from a humanist conference in Moscow (October 1997) and a seminar several months ago in Stockholm for the editors of humanist magazines. There is also a list of new groups and organisations, with a list of selected humanist magazines and journals, including e-mail and Internet access facilities. There is information on the forthcoming Humanism for Human Development and Happiness conference, due to take place in mid-January 1999 on the M.N. Roy Human Development Campus in Bombay/Mumbai. The year 2000 congress is to be held in Melbourne, and IHEU will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2002 where it began – in Amsterdam.

IHEU is represented at the Council of Europe by Dr. Alexandre Marius Baron Dées de Sterio, who described the link in the December 1997 issue of the newsletter. IHEU is not engaged in all groups, but concentrates its energies on human rights, education, North-South issues, health and social rights; it also values its role in investigating alleged breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights. Baron Dées de Sterio stresses that the Council of Europe’s "moral, ethical and legal powers are very important for the IHEU, since the IHEU and the Council of Europe share similar views on humanistic values. The voice of the IHEU is of real importance, since plenty of religious and especially Roman Catholic groups try to use this institution to put forward their own (often reactionary) views…. It can be said that the IHEU… is considered by the NGOs and by the staff of the Council of Europe as one of the most dynamic and opinion-making organizations".

IHEU always sends an observer delegation to UNESCO meetings, and is keen to maintain good links. In fact, the keynote speaker at the forthcoming world congress in Bombay/Mumbai is UNESCO’s Director General, Federico Mayor. The executive director of IHEU, Babu Gogineni, works very closely with UNESCO’s Division for Philosophy and Ethics on issues of mutual concern. At the 29th General Conference, held in Paris in October/November 1997, IHEU was able to voice its fears about human rights being impaired by the imposition of specific religious views through obligatory religious education in various countries. This was the only form of abuse of human rights mentioned by the then-President of IHEU, Rob Tielman. Another contributor decried "the ideology of the New Age, in whose framework the most pernicious of sects and the most backward ignorance find refuge. This is a disquieting development which reflects our fears, and signals a return to the darkest hours of our past…". He also criticised Ukraine’s resolution asking UNESCO to support the Christian Millennium as a cultural event, describing this as exploitation of the event by a particular religious group, opining that the Paths of Faith project refers to "roads which have too often been paved with hate". Interreligious dialogue and ecumenism are reckoned to privilege particularity over the universal, which is pinpointed as a founding value of a "humanist culture of peace".

IHEU was very much in evidence at UNESCO’s inter-governmental conference on The Power of Culture in Stockholm in March/April 1998, particularly because of its interest in the declared objective of elaborating a global ethics, described in the newsletter as "the moral minimum" to which "governments, trans-national corporations and the global civil society" must contribute. IHEU was assisted by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation to offer a fringe seminar on the search for common values in a situation of cultural diversity. The newsletter notes that "among the mixed audience were present representatives of the ‘Holy’ See"! It must be said that the discussion at the seminar brought up an enormous number of significant issues, from Hans Küng’s Declaration towards a Global Ethic to the more pessimistic predictions of Samuel Huntington and his followers. The fears of many were taken very seriously, except that Babu Gogineni insisted, to the surprise of several participants, that religions "do not yet recognise the human being as the source of our values. They also do not approve of the cultivation of critical intelligence as crucial". For him "Universal Culture … must be built on freedom, truth, reason and compassion… and the spread of these values is the cultural project and challenge ahead of us". This was the approach at the Oslo Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief, held in August 1998, where "one performed humanist duty by being sceptical about the Ministers’ ideas, and ‘blasphemous’ about religions". Clearly, the principal preoccupation of humanists in Norway is the relationship between Church and State, particularly current legislation on religious education.

The October 1998 issue of the newsletter contains two articles of particular interest. First of all, a column by two guest writers from the United States of America on "Supporting Humanist Families" recognises that "humanist organizations have mostly neglected the family. In sharp contrast to humanism, organized religion has always recognized the demand for moral and practical support in raising a family". The Council for Secular Humanism, based in Amherst in New York State, has launched several initiatives to change this situation, including: the Secular Family Network (where the definition of family extends to "all kinds of family patterns", in order to accommodate gay and lesbian partnerships), which publishes Family Matters, a quarterly newsletter for parents, children and grandparents; Camp Quest, an annual secular humanist summer camp for 8-13 year olds; perhaps most important of all is the Campus Freethought Alliance, which has been singularly successful in attracting "many thousands of teenagers into the secular humanist movement…. It is now attracting an increasing number of high-school students too". The Council recognises the benefits – in humanist terms – of all these developments for organised humanism, for the families involved, and for the future of society. The second article is a brief reflection by IHEU’s new president, Levi Fragell. His background in marketing and public relations has made him keen to bring the organisation to greater prominence as "a well-known and internationally respected alternative to the religions", a more effective and "visible alternative in a world of corrupt religions and mistrusted ideologies". He points to various areas of potential development, mainly high-profile challenges to powerful organisations and better representation by "philosophically competent humanist leaders" in the intellectual and academic world. He also gives a 6-point list of hints for humanists, the last one being a lesson to any organisation, even among Christians: "Do not use more than one per cent of your valuable time quarrelling with other humanists". The new president seems determined to accelerate the tempo of IHEU’s activities.

Source: International Humanist News, vol. 5, nos. 3-4 (December 1997), vol. 6, no. 1 (May 1998) and no. 2 (October 1998).



Bethlehem 2000 is a project designed to develop and safeguard the city of Bethlehem; support comes principally from Italy, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank. At a meeting in Brussels in May 1998, UNESCO’s Director General, Federico Mayor, made the sad comment that "at the end of a century of scientific and technological advancement, we realize that we have been incapable of living peacefully and sharing…". But he went on in more hopeful vein to say: "After a century of sound and fury, we enter a new millennium with a new spirit abroad. With new resolve, in the framework of a culture of peace, we must talk to each other. The power of the word holds the future; the world depends on the power of the word". He announced that UNESCO would create a Universal House for Fine Arts and a special crèche for babies born in Bethlehem in the year 2000. Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority, hoped that the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ would "promote dialogue and strengthen relations and understanding among various peoples and cultures".

Liechtenstein’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Claudia Fritsche, moderated a meeting in New York in May 1998, sponsored by UNESCO and the Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations, on Inter-Religious Dialogue: Healing and Reconstruction in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Religious leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina taking part in the meeting were Dr. Mustafa Ceric, leader of the Islamic community, Dr. Jakob Finci, President of the Jewish community, Radomir Rakic, representing Metropolitan Nikolaj of Sarajevo, and Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo. According to Dr. Ceric, the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a test case for Europe and for every continent "because hatred can infest the rest of the world"; Mr. Rakic stressed that the meeting was only the first step, but a very positive one: "We have come here to show our willingness and readiness to be and stay together". Cardinal Puljic stressed the obligation on religious leaders "to educate our congregations for peace and tolerance", to assist in the safe return of refugees and to work to rebuild the houses of worship destroyed in the fighting, since these are "an important part of our history and culture".

Source: UNESCO News, Vol. 5, No. 5 (20 May 1998) and vol. 5, No. 6 (20 June 1998).



Recent months have been marked at Tamale by intense heat and a chronic shortage of water, which has meant a lack of electrical power and hardly any water supply to the institute. Furthermore, a ship bringing library books hit an iceberg and was delayed months in Europe. But, on a positive note, the books eventually arrived in good condition, and renovations in the building are well under way.

Library expansion is necessary to allow affiliation to the local branch of the national university system, the University of Development Studies (UDS). This move will allow more students to use the Tamale institute and this, in turn, promises greater stability and security. The Institute currently has a staffing problem, and the newsletter carries a heartfelt appeal to religious congregations and mission personnel to come and help. The institute is run and almost all teaching is done by two priests!

Despite infrastructure and staffing difficulties, quite a lot happens at Tamale. Each year there is a "Culture and Development Seminar", and a "Culture and Ministry Seminar". There are month-long annual introductory courses for missionaries in February and August, a "mini-orientation" course sponsored by the British High Commission, and an invitation to a small number of people to engage in a "Summer in Africa" programme. There is usually also a programme for students from the Chicago Centre for Global Ministries, but in 1998 it was cancelled, owing to a lack of subscribers. In July 1998 nine people from Austria took part in the fourth "Dreikönigsaktion Study Tour", which involved touring, cross-cultural orientation, and an introductory immersion to African village life; the tour "takes learners well beyond the limits of student tourism by challenging their stereotypes and offering the first taste of what it is like to be an insider".

The latest issue of the newsletter from Tamale also lists visitors to the Institute during the past year, the programmes for 1998 and 1999, information on an ambitious project involving the cataloguing of African proverbs, many of which are already available as a CD-ROM, the director’s notebook, and a cultural reflection by a visiting student on the way the Dagomba view and react to strangers and thieves.

Source: Newsletter No. 22 (July 1998), Tamale Institute of Cross-Cultural Studies, P.O. Box 1012 Tamale, N.R., Ghana.



The Network of Networks for Research and Co-operation in Cultural Development published a special issue of its Culturelink bulletin in 1997, on the theme Culture in Central and Eastern Europe: Institutional and Value Changes. It considers five cases, each of which starts with a description of cultural policy under state socialism, gives an analysis of the current cultural situation and concludes with possible scenarios of cultural development in the near future. Vjeran Katunarić, of the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb, begins his account of cultural developments in Croatia with a remarkable understatement. "Among the main processes constituting the transition in post-communist countries, cultural transition is the least clearly defined". But he gives clear reasons why he deems it to be so: it is hard to define culture, which is subject to the vicissitudes not only of semantics, but also of political, military and economic interests. The current state of cultural policy in Croatia is influenced by a fusion of market absolutism with the way the state is almost universally perceived as a quasi-divine entity. Bulgaria, the second case, is presented by Rositsa Arcova, Raina Cherneva, Boris Danailov, Tatiana Rogacheva and Lazar Koprinarov, all of the Institute of Culturology, part of the Ministry of Culture in Sofia. Highly controlled state socialism, which restricted artistic freedom, has given way to a more chaotic scene where there is a great deal of freedom but also financial hardship for many artists. The third case is a comparison of cultural developments in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, by Siniša Malešević of the Department of Sociology at University College, Cork (Ireland); this orthodox Frankfurt School analysis provides useful tools for understanding how consumerism affects culture and art, making them no longer a liberating element of life, but an attitude of "possessive, reificatory possession". Citizens in both countries seem unimpressed by egalitarian values, but there is a great difference between a more independent spirit in the Czech Republic, and the greater sense of dependency on state responsibilities in Slovakia. Jonas Oskinis, of the University of Klaipeda, presents the situation in Lithuania. After a long but eventually successful struggle for cultural recognition, occupation in 1941 led to a situation where "Soviet Lithuania was simply a smaller-scale model of the Soviet cultural institutions in general". But culture and cultural workers were the main instigators of "The Singing Revolution": banned authors were read again; religious art and literature came out into the open; there was contact with Lithuanian diaspora writers; foreign heritage and works of art became known in Lithuania. The clearly immature relationship between the cultural sphere and the market means that some cultural programmes are clumsy or slow to develop, but there are clear official strategies in place to ensure better financing with a long-term goal of independence. The last paper is by Guerman Mendjeritsky and Svetlana Petkova, of the Department of Philosophy and Culture at Rostov State Pedagogical University, and it deals with the cultural situation in Russia. The dominant factor considered here is an enormous change in people’s values, a shift to individualism and materialism, with a growing distrust of one’s fellow nationals. Positive values like spiritual harmony and clear conscience are lived within a family or very local context, rather than on a national level: the principal macro-position held seems to be liberal humanism. Looking to the future, it is suggested that "instead of political involvement, artists will demonstrate moral commitment, which is traditional for Russia and as such is recognised as the highest cultural value in Russia".

The April 1998 edition of Culturelink has the usual rich mixture, with very full sections on Networking in Progress, Research, UNESCO, Council of Europe, reports from Conferences (in Dubrovnik, Bucharest, Ljubljana and Suva), notices of forthcoming conferences, a review of Documentation (with the usual appreciation of Cultures and Faith) and Publications, a news section, and a Dossier on Culture and Development, with contributions by D. Paul Schafer (World Culture Project), Gao Xian (Chinese Centre for Third World Studies) and Raymond Weber (Council of Europe).



Les langues naissent et meurent, se développent ou s'affaiblissent, connaissent des périodes d'extension ou de décadence. Elles dominent ou elles sont dominées, les plus fortes absorbant les plus faibles. C'est ce qui explique sans doute que sur les quelque 6.000 langues aujourd'hui parlées dans le monde, une dizaine au moins disparaisse tous les ans, par manque de locuteurs, à cause d'une guerre, d'un dépeuplement, ou parce qu'une langue forte s'impose.

Les conséquences sont dramatiques. Chaque fois qu'une langue s'évanouit sans laisser de traces, c'est une partie des richesses linguistiques et donc du patrimoine culturel mondial, qui s'efface. Car une langue est avant tout le support d'une culture. Sans langue pour la soutenir et la développer, une culture ne progresse plus, de la même manière qu'un muscle qui n'est pas utilisé finit par dépérir.

Pour qu'une langue soit forte, capable d'exprimer non seulement toutes les expériences humaines mais aussi les concepts les plus élevés, il faut l'utiliser et la solliciter dans tous ses registres. C'est un fait reconnu : les frontières linguistiques sont plus importantes que les frontières politiques. Le peuple Saami préserve son identité culturelle et linguistique bien qu'il soit dispersé entre la Norvège, la Suède et la Finlande, car c'est la langue qui crée le lien. Ainsi la langue et la culture forment un couple indissociable. Tant qu'une culture est solide, la langue se maintient. Lorsqu'une langue est en danger, la culture l'est aussi.

Une langue parlée par une minorité finit par être écartée des circuits officiels de communication au profit de langues fortes. Ce type de langues " hégémoniques " a souvent existé dans l'histoire. Pour nous limiter à l'exemple de la France, il suffit de rappeler que l'arrivée du latin a fait disparaître les langues de l'antique Gaule. Au Moyen Âge, le francien – langue de l'Île-de-France – parlé à la cour s'étendit au pays en même temps que le pouvoir royal et finit par prendre le pas sur l'occitan, le francique et l'alémanique, alors que le francien était initialement moins parlé que ces langues régionales.

Privilégier l'utilisation d'une langue dominante revient souvent à réduire notre système de pensée et de vision du monde. L'apprentissage des langues devient d'autant plus important. Il ouvre l'esprit sur de nouvelles manières de considérer le monde, ce qui fit dire à Napoléon que " celui qui parle deux langues vaut deux hommes ". Parler la langue de l'autre constitue sans l'ombre d'un doute une voie royale pour prendre conscience des valeurs communes à la famille humaine, des valeurs universelles. La rupture et la violence entrent en jeu lorsque tout dialogue est interrompu, aussi défendre la diversité des langues et promouvoir celles des communautés minoritaires revient-il à donner à la paix une nouvelle chance.

Comment freiner la disparition d'un patrimoine immatériel qui a survécu durant tant d'années et de siècles? Fort heureusement, la mort d'une langue n'est pas toujours irréversible. Redonner vie à une langue revient souvent à réconcilier un peuple avec sa tradition par les chants, la danse et le folklore. Toutefois il arrive qu'une langue ne présente plus d'intérêt pour les jeunes parce qu'elle ne leur donne accès à aucune carrière ni travail. En se tournant vers la langue majoritaire, ils réduisent leur propre langue à n'être plus parlée que par les anciens. En Côte d'Ivoire, par exemple, dans les zones de forêt dense, à l'est du pays, plusieurs langues n'atteignaient même pas une centaine de locuteurs voici quelque trente ans. Transmises oralement, elles ont disparu avec les anciens, sans laisser de trace dans l'histoire du pays. En Europe, le français pourrait suivre le même destin dans les pays autres que le Luxembourg où il jouit du statut de langue officielle. Certains hésitent à parler leur propre langue, minoritaire, par crainte de paraître dépassés. Une langue est réellement en danger de mort lorsque ceux qui la parlent ont honte de la parler en public. Dans nombre de pays d'Afrique où l'enseignement a lieu en français ou en anglais, les langues régionales ou locales n'ont aucune place dans les programmes scolaires. Trop souvent, la langue des parents est considérée comme un témoignage du passé, associée à une sous-culture. Combien de jeunes africains n'ont-ils pas renoncé à leur propre culture en renonçant à la langue de leurs parents?

Si elle ne valorise pas les langues traditionnelles, l'école peut être un véritable " facteur de déculturation ". Fort heureusement, elle peut aussi, et c'est l'idée du programme Linguapax de l'UNESCO, apporter des réponses concrètes à cette situation alarmante. En facilitant l'accès à l'apprentissage des langues, l'école peut devenir le pilier des cultures et prévenir, voire éviter de nombreux conflits.

Source : Sources-UNESCO, n. 104, septembre 1998, p. 10-12.



Bishop Bill Murphy of Kerry has been reflecting on how the Church in Ireland will face up to the Holy Father’s call in Tertio Millennio Adveniente for a fresh evangelisation that would prepare a "new springtime of Christian faith". On the face of it, the situation in Ireland is grim and both the facts and the various diagnoses of the Church’s health are well known, but the bishop points out that most of the problems in question are by no means unique to Ireland. He suggests that, in most cases, "they stem from the same causes: on the one hand, the growth of secularisation, affluence and individualism, and on the other hand, lack of proper evangelisation and adult religious education".

What amazes Bishop Murphy is that there is still such a high percentage of people practising their faith, given the "rapid and radical social and cultural changes that have taken place in Ireland since the early 1970s". He sees the positive side of a looming shortage of priests (and the reduced numbers of religious in education) in the marvellous commitment of so many others: "the Church of the twenty-first century in Ireland will be very different from what we have been used to. I believe it will be more participative and that is a hopeful sign". From a broader perspective, the bishop is encouraged by the growth of new lay communities and an increase in vocations in traditional religious orders in France, a sign for him that "when there is a return to religion it begins with a revival of interest in contemplative prayer and meditation". He was struck by the unexpected positive impact of the World Youth Days in Paris in the summer of 1997, one of several signs that Europe may be returning from a long journey along a road which has led it nowhere. He is cautious about the "so-called return of the sacred" because of the many non-Christian elements it has involved, and because of an undeniable growth in fundamentalism.

What is essential for a real renewal of faith and Christian living in Ireland in the new Millennium is effective religious education. The concept of religious education has expanded to include various elements, each of which bishop Murphy considers in turn.

Children, teachers and parents in primary schools in Ireland have responded enthusiastically to the latest programme of religious education adopted, which includes "Prayertime" in every lesson, and attractively designed information to keep parents informed of what their children are learning. There is, naturally, a greater challenge in teaching older children who are very much touched by a culture which discourages open interest or enthusiasm where religion is concerned; but Ireland is blessed with a growing number of (mainly female) qualified religion teachers at this level, and they have had some success in changing the perception of their subject. At the same time, there will always be debate about offering religion as a subject for examination at school. There are strong arguments both ways.

Young people experience the "gap between faith and life" when what they learn at school does not correspond with what they experience elsewhere. As well as religious knowledge, there needs to be religious experience, so "something has to be going on in the school or in the home or in the parish (or in all three) which complements what is being taught in the classroom and counteracts secular culture and peer pressure". It is extremely important to find "contemporary ways for young people to become involved and develop a sense of belonging to their Church". This is the only way of allowing them to develop loyalty, allegiance and a sense of pride.

Adult religious education has developed quickly and is helping a growing number of people to bring themselves up to date with the Church’s teaching and to relate faith to the rest of their lives. Above all the opportunity to develop a deeper spiritual life makes adult education "the key to that new springtime of Christian living in the new millennium". Believing that family life is crucial in evangelisation, bishop Murphy stresses that "we must turn our attention more to parents and take seriously the Catholic principle that parents are the first educators of their children". He takes hope from the fact that this change is already well under way. Incidentally, Cedar House, the Catholic cultural centre on Inch Island in County Donegal, is run on the principle that the renewal of the family is the key to the evangelisation of culture.

The celebration of the great Jubilee in the year 2000 will surely be a moment of grace for the Church in Ireland. It will be a celebration of fifteen and a half centuries of Christian heritage, and a call for reconciliation with other Christians and those alienated from the Church. But, above all, it will be a time to look ahead and plan the journey the Church needs to make. Despite all the evident obstacles, Bishop Murphy is still convinced that he chose the right motto: Nolite timere.

Source: The Furrow, volume 49, number 9, September 1998, pp. 455-467.



The American Center for Faith & Culture, founded in 1998, is dedicated to the ongoing rediscovery and renewal of Catholic spiritual and intellectual culture. As the American branch of the Centre for Faith & Culture (Oxford), his aim is:

  • To foster understanding and practice of the Catholic contemplative tradition;
  • To deepen the participation in the liturgy, which is the unceasing prayer of the Church;
  • To cultivate a disposition of attentive listening in prayer, sacred reading, and study;
  • To search out the characteristics of living religious cultures, learning from all traditions;
  • To develop the links between Catholic contemplative practice and the renascence of Christian culture in the arts and sciences, leisure and work, family life and society.

The current historical moment is propitious for such an enterprise. Secularism is in a state of confused and demoralized retreat; spiritual hunger is growing. It is now abundantly clear that the consumerist culture of the twentieth century has failed to deliver on its promises and that conditions are ripe for a recovery of the living tradition of the Catholic faith, in all its dimensions – intellectual, moral, and aesthetic.

"As our part in this broad religious movement, we turn especially toward aspects of the tradition that profoundly engage the spirit and imagination of many people both within and outside the Church: the sacred arts of iconography and liturgical chant, the culture-bearing activities of monastic communities, the time-honored forms of devotion and mystical prayer. Through mutually respectful dialogue with other faiths, we seek to be reminded of forgotten truths that are of universal validity. We find particular inspiration in the Benedictine tradition, and in the teachings of St. Philip Neri, John Henry Newman, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and Pope John Paul II.

The work of the Centre is carried out through conferences, lectures, and seminars; occasional publications; and regular meetings of "contemplative circles" sponsored by the Centre. The contemplative circles engage in a practical exploration of traditional spiritual disciplines, including lectio divina, meditation, prayer of the heart, and adoration. Our first major initiative will be to co-ordinate the American activities of the Liturgy Forum, a three-year cycle of prayer and study, which will culminate in an international conference" said Director Philip Zaleski.

Cf. American Centre for Faith & Culture, 27 Hillside Road, Northampton MA 01060 U.S.A., e-mail:



When Cardinal Francis George, of Chicago, spoke privately to the Holy Father during his last Ad Limina visit, he was taken aback to be asked this question: "How are you influencing the culture?" In his reply he mentioned a dialogue with universities, and with other "cultural carriers like the media and the legal profession". Pope John Paul enthusiastically took up the question of universities as bearers of culture.

Cardinal George mentioned this on 22 September in an address given at Loyola University to presidents and staff of Catholic universities and colleges in the Chicago area. His guiding thought was that "universities and colleges are carriers… of the culture that makes us human", and he was glad to note that he shares this key conviction with the Holy Father. They both believe that, together, the Church and the university have the responsibility "to see that the richness of reflection that tells us who God is, who we are, what the world is like, is in fact responsibly cared for and carried on".

In his talk to the bishops of the Midwestern states in May 1998, the Pope had referred to four elements of the Catholic identity of a university: student activities, community life in the university, the curriculum and the sense of mission in the faculty (academic staff). The cardinal wanted to concentrate on the last two. He is sure that "the same God who made us free also made us smart and wants us to be holy". The sense of freedom which is so dear in the United States needs to be in conversation with reason and holiness all the time, since these are three values which shape the Church and shape individual academics. He recognised that the main problem arises when there is an attempt to institutionalise these values. But he made it clear that he saw it as a joint responsibility, and he felt "at home" as a bishop in a Catholic university, which he sees as "part of the household of faith". All who are party to this responsibility are not only controlled but are also protected by laws which are really meant to clarify the vision of faith on which a mission statement is based. Even canon law’s mandates for theologians are part of the institutional apparatus of a Church in which "purpose is made visible in law".

The alternative scenario is one – experienced in many academic institutions – where there is fragmentation rather than a shared vision. And "if there is no integrating vision in a university, then indeed how can a school be Catholic? How can it come from the heart of the Church…?" The ultimate concern behind many current discussions is "a deep concern that our universities will continue to function in the future as places where faith and culture and individual purposes and the demands of discipline are truly integrated". The cardinal summed up his concern for the future of Catholic universities as places where "shared vision and shared values" can be the basis for genuine mutual respect and support by suggesting that everyone involved needs to have a much deeper awareness of his or her sense of vocation.

Source: Origins, vol. 28, no. 18 (15 October 1998) pp. 306-308.



"WOMEN IN THE REALM OF SPIRITUALITY" was the theme of the Art Exhibition inaugurated on Thursday, 15 October, 1998, at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, by Cardinal Paul Poupard, President, Pontifical Council of Culture. Addressing a packed audience, His Eminence, while congratulating the sixteen women artists who set up this exhibition, commended His Excellency, Mr. Irawan Abidin, the Ambassador of Indonesia to the Holy See "for sparing no pains and efforts to stage this exhibition here in Rome" and thanked "the authorities of the Pontifical University Gregoriana... for graciously making available the premises… to afford us with the opportunity of admiring and appreciating these works of art".

His Eminence in his address noted that the exhibition was the first of its kind to be held in the Eternal City and through the medium of culture, of which art is a facet, it had cemented further the relations between Indonesia and the Holy See. "Culture", the Cardinal went on to explain, "brings peoples together...bonds spiritual aspirations... and bridges time". The exhibition on Spirituality spoke of the hunger of the heart innate in every person that yearns restlessly for God. It was a striking but happy coincidence that the exhibition was being inaugurated on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila who had written both profoundly and profusely on Spirituality, the Cardinal concluded.



Invitado por el Arzobispo de Trani-Barletta-Bisceglie (IT.), el Cardenal Paul Poupard, acompañado de Don Pasquale Iacobone, oficial del Pontificio Consejo de la Cultura, ha visitado las ciudades de Barletta y Trani. En la primera de ellas el 19 de octubre ha bendecido una escultura de bronce del Angel del Jubileo, emblema de la peregrinación a la que todos estamos llamados al acercarse el tercer milenio y notable realización artística en la que fe y cultura se funden en armoniosa creatividad.

Realizada por el escultor Ernesto Lamagna, secretario de la Pontificia Academia de los Virtuosos del Panteón, quedó instalada en el campanario de la parroquia de San Benito, en la que el Cardenal presidió a continuación la Eucaristía. A la celebración siguió la intervención de Mons. Felice di Molfetta, que ilustró el significado teológico de la obra. El Prof. Vitalino Tiberia, presidente de la Pontificia Academia de los Virtuosos del Panteón, a quien correspondía ilustrar el aspecto artístico de la misma, se hallaba ausente por razones de salud. El cardenal Poupard concluyó el encuentro recordando los significados que adquiere la figura del Angel del Jubileo en este particular momento histórico y en la ciudad de Barletta. La velada se concluyó en el Teatro Curci con el saludo del Sr. Alcalde y la inauguración de una exposición acerca de la realización de la escultura.

El día siguiente, 20 de octubre, en Trani, el Cardenal presidió una solemne concelebración eucarística en la que participaron el Arzobispo, el clero y los fieles de la arquidiócesis. Tres motivos inspiraban esta importante asamblea litúrgica: el IX centenario de la canonización de san Nicolás Peregrino, patrono de la ciudad de Trani, que tuvo lugar el año 1098 por obra del papa Urbano II; el IX centenario de la construcción y dedicación de la magnífica catedral, –no en vano llamada "la reina de las catedrales de Puglia–, mandada edificar por el arzobispo Bisancio para acoger dignamente las reliquias del santo peregrino; finalmente, el inicio de los actos conmemorativos de las bodas de oro sacerdotales del arzobispo Mons. Carmelo Cassati. El arzobispo dirigió unas palabras de bienvenida al Cardenal y leyó la felicitación enviada por el Santo Padre. El Cardenal en la homilía, recordando los motivos de la celebración, invitó a todos a hacerse como el joven santo protector, peregrinos por los caminos de la historia para construir el templo vivo de la Iglesia, fundado sobre la roca que es Cristo.

La catedral estaba abarrotada de gente, sobre todo catequistas de la diócesis, que en tal circunstancia recibieron el envío pastoral. Llamaba la atención la profunda y concorde participación de los fieles presentes, entre los cuales se hallaban muchos jóvenes.

La presencia del Cardenal en estos dos felices acontecimientos ha querido animar con un gesto concreto el diálogo de la Iglesia con la cultura y el arte, para crear un nuevo período artístico capaz de grandes y significativas obras, como la espléndida catedral de Trani, síntesis admirable de fe, cultura, genio humano y cohesión social.



Con ocasión de la ceremonia inaugural del nuevo año académico del "Studio teologico accademico bolognese", el Cardenal Camillo Ruini, Vicario General del Santo Padre para la diócesis de Roma, pronunció un discurso en el que profundizó en las relaciones entre la teología y el proyecto cultural de la Iglesia en Italia.

Señalando la necesidad de que la teología entre "más en lo concreto", resaltó la importancia de que se empeñe "en mostrar la racionabilidad y la relevancia de la propuesta de fe a partir de sus contenidos centrales –Dios, Cristo, la Iglesia– en relación con todas las dimensiones de lo humano". "Sólo así –añadió– podrá el hombre de hoy captar, no sólo en el plano experiencial sino también en el cognoscitivo, la relevancia no sectorial sino global de la fe".

De la misma manera, el Cardenal Ruini indicó que la reciente encíclica "Fides et Ratio" del Papa Juan Pablo II da un fuerte impulso en esta dirección indicando la necesidad de la razón para la fe, para que la fe misma no sea reducida a sentimiento y experiencia subjetiva, de por sí no inmediatamente comunicables".

Señalando que la "fe no sólo es proponible, sino que debe ser propuesta a todos", el también Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal Italiana afirmó que ese era el gran cambio pedido a la teología, "no sólo en orden al proyecto cultural de la Iglesia italiana, sino también a la superación de la ruptura entre fe y cultura y entre Evangelio y vida, hacia el fin de la evangelización".

Al respecto, indicó la necesidad de que la teología tenga una función de apoyo a la inteligencia, buscando defender para todos los hombres su valor y capacidad. De la misma manera, señaló como un grave riesgo el hecho de que la teología se "descristianice" debido al alejamiento de sus raíces en la Revelación.

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 23-10-1998.



A meeting with this title dedicated to the Year of the Spirit, in preparation for the Great Jubilee was held at the Catholic Cultural Centre "Jakab Antal" of Şumuleu Ciuc (Romania) on 23 and 24 October, 1998. The main structure of the colloquium was built on three conferences of Fr. László Lukács SJ, of Hungary – The Spirit in the world, The Spirit in the Church and The Spirit in the life of the individual – rendered complete by other interventions of speakers of the region and with lively debates.

Considering the reality of man at the end of the millennium, whose very identity is endangered today, the speakers and participants emphasised that the social, political, and economic changes in middle-east Europe are not of great help if man himself and his mentality do not change. The Church must assume with courage the task of educating man, so that he might be able to find again his identity, the meaning of his life and the real values that have been lost, without which it is impossible to live a life that is fully human.

The conviction that today, in the era of globalisation, the reality of national States does not exist any more was voiced. On the road to a united Europe they must be considered as cultural regions and not of Countries, since the boundaries of the State often do not correspond any more to the boundaries among various cultures. Even before speaking of the economic and political development one must find one’s own true cultural identity, which is the basis for every further development. It is the task of everyone, therefore, to embrace his own cultural identity and to live it fully.

Being open to the action of the Spirit and working together with the Spirit, they must seize the challenges of our time, with an active and responsible commitment not only in the life of the Church, but also in all the circumstances and spheres of life, since the Church and the Christians cannot declare themselves to be absent from public life.

The Centre "Jakab Antal" will continue the series of meetings dedicated to the problem of cultural identity, of cultural education and of cultural rights under the aegis of the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Universal Human Rights.

From: Catholic Centre of formation Jakab Antal, Str. Szék 147, RO-4100 Miercurea Ciuc, Tel.: 0040-66-113.452, Fax: 0040-66-172.145, e-mail:



El día octubre 25 en la ciudad de Medellín tuvo lugar el congreso "Nuevas tecnologías al servicio de la evangelización de cara al Tercer Milenio". A cargo del Instituto Vida y Espiritualidad (VE-Colombia) y de la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, el encuentro contó con la participación del Obispo Auxiliar de Medellín, Monseñor Darío Monsalve, así como del Nuncio Apostólico del Papa Juan Pablo II en Colombia, Monseñor Paolo Romeo. Durante el evento, al que asistieron gran cantidad de religiosos y religiosas, jóvenes universitarios, así como miembros de diversos movimientos eclesiales, se reflexionó en torno al valor que las nuevas tecnologías aportan a la vida y misión de la Iglesia.

Al comenzar el evento, dirigió la palabra José Alfredo Cabrera, Director de Vida y Espiritualidad de Colombia, quien señaló la trascendencia que han adquirido las Nuevas Tecnologías en la sociedad de hoy, resaltando la urgente necesidad de forjar una Nueva Evangelización de cara al Tercer Milenio. "Ésta es la razón por la que Vida y Espiritualidad –una asociación cuyos principales objetivos se orientan a la difusión de los contenidos de la fe de la Iglesia a través de la evangelización de la cultura– junto con la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana han querido sumar sus esfuerzos en la organización de este Congreso. Con ello queremos generar un espacio de reflexión en el que –guiados por la Verdad perenne del Evangelio que nos comunica la Iglesia– podamos comprender el valor que las Nuevas Tecnologías pueden tener al servicio de la Evangelización".

Durante el evento, Eduardo Regal, Director de VE Multimedios, ofreció una importante plática sobre "Nuevas Tecnologías: Posibilidades y desafíos". En sus palabras, Regal señaló que "el horizonte de las nuevas tecnologías presenta hoy en día numerosas interrogantes que ciertamente nos mueven a la reflexión y al discernimiento". Destacando los recursos útiles que ellas ofrecen para la Nueva Evangelización –como por ejemplo el correo electrónico o las conversaciones en "tiempo real" – advirtió luego que las nuevas tecnologías "portan ambigüedades ante las cuales se debe discernir con claridad". "La relación deseable entre el ser humano y la técnica se rompe cuando ésta no se orienta al sentido último del ser humano" afirmó más adelante, añadiendo que "la presencia de la Iglesia en los ambientes generados por los nuevos medios tecnológicos no puede ser débil".

Recordando que "la tecnología es uno de los elementos que conforman la cultura", señaló que "la evangelización de la cultura, en relación al tema que nos reúne de las nuevas tecnologías, resulta fundamental". "En la tarea de realizar la Nueva Evangelización –afirmó–, a la cual nos convoca continuamente el Papa Juan Pablo II, es un gran desafío para nuestro tiempo y los próximos años el evitar que las nuevas tecnologías se desvíen de su papel en relación al ser humano y que más bien adquieran el papel que les corresponde según el designio divino, en consonancia con los fines del ser humano y su naturaleza".

En torno a "Las Nuevas Tecnologías al servicio de la Nueva Evangelización" habló el Nuncio Apostólico, Monseñor Romeo. En sus palabras, Monseñor Romeo recordó la invitación del Santo Padre a una Nueva Evangelización, resaltando la importancia de "mirar nuestro mundo contemporáneo con inteligencia para poder conocer los medios nuevos que pueden ser eficaces para que el Evangelio se extienda cada vez más por el mundo". Llamando la atención sobre las posibilidades así como los problemas que presentan las Nuevas Tecnologías, Monseñor Romeo afirmó que "la conciencia de la urgencia de proclamar el Evangelio nos apremia a utilizar todos los medios válidos para aumentar la eficacia de nuestro apostolado", señalando la importancia de poner las Nuevas Tecnologías al servicio de la Nueva Evangelización.

A lo largo de la jornada se realizaron diversos paneles así como Mesas Redondas. En ellas participaron entre otros Juan José García Posada, Jefe Editorial del diario El Colombiano, quien habló sobre el cambio de paradigmas en el conocimiento y las relaciones humanas, así como el Padre Juan Pablo Rosado, quien trató en torno al agnosticismo funcional en la sociedad contemporánea.

La jornada concluyó por la tarde con una participada celebración Eucarística, presidida por Monseñor Romeo. Durante su homilía, el Nuncio de Su Santidad en Colombia señaló la importancia de la conversión del corazón en el anuncio del Señor Jesús. Al respecto, subrayó la necesidad de la santidad personal para utilizar eficazmente los medios que Dios ponía a nuestra disposición, llamando la atención sobre la gran responsabilidad que implicaba el anuncio de la fe de cara al Tercer Milenio.

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 25-10-1998.



Les anciennes républiques soviétiques d'Asie centrale se trouvent affrontées à un défi particulièrement important. Après quelques années d'indépendance, elles prennent une conscience aiguë de la fragilité de leurs identités nationales. Après des décennies de domination marxiste et de négation des identités culturelles particulières, ces nouveaux États – Qazaqstan, Turkménistan, Ouzbékistan, Kirghizistan et Tadjikistan – ont un urgent besoin de se réapproprier leur histoire et leur patrimoine culturel. Leur culture se voit affecter un unique objectif : consolider de fragiles identités nationales au prix du maintien de vieilles habitudes de pensée héritées du communisme.

Dans les années 70, en effet, les intelligentsias nationales ont pu procéder à une réhabilitation, encore sélective, d'éléments isolés de leurs patrimoines respectifs. Ce processus répondait à deux finalités : d'une part, justifier par l'histoire les frontières politiques instituées par le stalinisme et, d'autre part, établir la nécessité historique d'une fusion délibérée des peuples de la région avec le " grand frère " russe.

Trente ans plus tard, et malgré la disparition du régime soviétique, ce schéma demeure à la base de la relecture des passés nationaux, dans l'ancienne périphérie soviétique : il faut plus que jamais légitimer les frontières, mais marquer désormais la rupture avec la Russie. Cette évolution récente recouvre toutefois une grande variété d'attitudes, selon les spécificités des divers patrimoines et aussi selon la réalité politique des cinq nouveaux États aux intérêts parfois divergents.

La finalité des lieux de mémoire est de servir de vecteurs de consensus au cœur des sociétés centrasiatiques marquées, au cours du XXe siècle, par une histoire particulièrement riche en conflits. Il est donc difficile d'inspirer un sentiment d'unité en faisant recours à des figures politiques de référence dans le passé proche. C'est pourquoi l'histoire ancienne se voit privilégiée.

Les maîtres de l'historiographie médiévale se doivent de rappeler, face aux autres puissances, le passé d'État indépendant de chaque république et sa vocation à jouir d'institutions politiques propres. C'est ainsi que l'Ouzbékistan, très engagé dans la " dérussification ", a réhabilité la figure d'Amîr Têmûr, haute figure médiévale, présentée moins comme un conquérant que comme une figure-type de souverain juste, préoccupé du maintien des équilibres sociaux. Un tel choix est parfois mal perçu dans les États voisins, où l'on n'a pas toujours gardé du " conquérant de fer " un souvenir attendri. Certains y voient l'affirmation d'une vocation hégémonique de l'Ouzbékistan. C'est le cas du Tadjikistan, pays majoritairement persanophone, créé de toutes pièces à la fin des années 20, dont l'historiographie nationale se fonde sur l'exaltation de la résistance à l'irrésistible turquisation de l'Asie centrale.

L'histoire culturelle n'échappe pas à la politisation. Dès la déstalinisation, à la fin des années 50, on a assisté, dans toute la périphérie méridionale de l'URSS, à une première consécration de grands ancêtres nationaux. Ces derniers mettaient en relief la spécificité de chaque culture nationale, tout en insistant sur la nécessité de la fusion avec le monde russe. Comme ils devaient être apolitiques et areligieux, on alla les chercher dans l'histoire littéraire ou dans la tradition orale.

Après la mort de Staline, les Qazaqs rééditèrent Choqan Valikhanov, un auteur du milieu du XIXe siècle qui, présenté sous forme d'anthologie, peut faire figure d'intellectuel russophile. Dans les années 70, on reparla beaucoup d'un " civilisateur ", Ibrahim Altynsaryn, théoricien de la notation du qazaq en cyrillique. Depuis l'indépendance, les Qazaqs mettent à la place d'honneur les intellectuels qui, en 1917-1919, dirigèrent l'Alash Orda, un gouvernement formé par des notables de la steppe proches des milieux anti-bolcheviques russes. Mais on continue d'oublier le parti des " trois centaines ", Utch Djuz, qui, à la même époque, fut le porte-parole d'une classe moyenne embryonnaire et de l'intelligentsia radicale des villes du sud de la steppe. De fait, Utch Djuz a pratiqué en même temps une sorte d'islam politique avant la lettre et une stratégie d'alliance avec les bolcheviques. De leur côté, les plus radicaux de ce parti prônaient une solidarité transfrontalière des peuples musulmans. Or il est aujourd'hui totalement exclus de contester les frontières dessinées au cours des années 20-30. Ce souci explique aussi l'oubli délibéré d'une figure comme celle du président Ali Khân Tûra Sâghûnî qui compte encore des disciples dans presque toute l'Asie centrale.

Cette volonté des nouveaux États centrasiatiques de faire coïncider le champ historique, sur une durée plus ou moins longue, avec un espace géopolitique hérité de la période stalinienne, n'est pas sans produire certaines distorsions conceptuelles. Elles apparaissent, notamment, dans la façon dont les nouveaux pouvoirs entendent marquer l'espace géographique, en particulier l'espace urbain. Les restaurations de monuments se succèdent au même rythme enfiévré que les réécritures des manuels d'histoire. Le dernier grand chantier de ce type a été mené tambour battant à Khiva et à Boukhara, dont l'Ouzbékistan a fêté le 2 500e anniversaire en 1997.

On retrouve ici la sollicitude des pouvoirs publics pour le passé lointain. Les ministères en charge du patrimoine privilégient l'architecture royale des dynasties fondatrices, en particulier celle des Timourides ou des lignées immédiatement postérieures, quitte à laisser dans l'ombre des figures plus récentes et donc plus susceptibles d'être contestées. Les restaurations des tombeaux des " saints " nationaux, souvent symboles d'unité, ont aussi une profonde dimension religieuse. Elles témoignent de la volonté des États de contrôler les rites sociaux liées aux confréries inspirées du soufisme, précieux rempart contre la progression d'une tendance islamique importée d'Arabie saoudite et du Pakistan. Ainsi, les nouveaux États centrasiastiques reprennent à leur compte une tradition pré-soviétique d'exploitation politique du soufisme, traditionnellement hostile aux mouvements fondamentalistes.

La politisation du patrimoine culturel représente donc un enjeu – clé pour la construction nationale, y compris pour la délicate question des frontières. La redécouverte de ces patrimoines s'effectue ainsi selon plusieurs niveaux de conscience : le niveau officiel, avec son culte des grandes figures et des monuments prestigieux isolés sur le fond d'un passé lointain, se superpose à celui des milieux lettrés, et tous deux font face à la culture populaire. " Dotées de la mémoire pointilleuse d'un passé proche souvent douloureux, les populations semblent beaucoup moins désorientées que ne le laisseraient supposer les hésitations idéologiques des nouveaux pouvoirs ".

Source : Le Courrier UNESCO, octobre 1998, p. 40-42.



Luego de la reciente reunión de la Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, que se realizó a lo largo de la semana pasada, los obispos exhortaron en un documento fruto de la misma a "ejercitar un discernimiento de los contenidos de la enseñanza", puesto que estos "no siempre expresan con claridad la capacidad del hombre para conocer la verdad y los valores esenciales de nuestro acervo cultural, tales como el sentido de Dios y la dignidad de la persona, que son el auténtico fundamento de los derechos humanos y de la convivencia social". En el documento los obispos insisten en "la necesidad de asegurar la plena libertad de enseñanza en favor de los alumnos y de sus padres, dentro de la cual se incluyen la educación religiosa y la formación de los docentes".

Estas exigencias, –planteadas en el contexto del actual debate sobre la reforma educativa–, están en plena consonancia con "la Ley Federal y con los principios promulgados en documentos internacionales y asumidos por nuestra Constitución", explica el documento. Además del tema educativo, los Pastores de la Iglesia en Argentina se pronunciaron sobre asuntos referentes a la economía, sobre los cuales expresaron que muchas de las dificultades, incluso económicas, que vive el pueblo argentino son fruto de "la cultura ambiente que propone el competir y el éxito económico como valores supremos". En este contexto, Monseñor Estanislao Karlic, Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, criticó que "la cultura actual ha exiliado a Dios", pero recordó que éste "no es el competidor del hombre, sino su amigo, su gran aliado".

Cf. Noticias Eclesiales, 2-11-1998.