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Jean-Paul II - John Paul II - Giovanni Paolo II - Juan Pablo II

Catholic Bishops of America






JEAN-PAUL II                                           JOHN PAUL II

GIOVANNI PAOLO II                               JUAN PABLO II




Consolidare le radici cristiane d’Europa


1. Venerdì scorso, 14 febbraio, abbiamo celebrato la festa dei santi Cirillo e Metodio, apostoli degli slavi e compatroni d’Europa. Nati a Salonicco nella prima metà del secolo IX e formatisi nella cultura bizantina, i due fratelli assunsero coraggiosamente il compito di evangelizzare le popolazioni slave della Grande Moravia, nel cuore dell’Europa.

Caratteristica del loro apostolato fu di mantenersi sempre fedeli sia al Romano Pontefice che al Patriarca di Costantinopoli, rispettando le tradizioni e la lingua delle genti slave. Li animava un profondo senso della Chiesa una, santa, cattolica ed apostolica, mentre l’invocazione di Gesù “ut unum sint” (Gv 17,11) costituiva la loro divisa missionaria. Possano il loro esempio e la loro intercessione aiutare i cristiani di Oriente e di Occidente a ricostruire la piena unità tra di loro (cfr Ep. Enc. Slavorum apostoli, 13: AAS 77 [1985], 794-795).


2. L’eredità dei santi Cirillo e Metodio è preziosa anche sotto il profilo culturale. La loro opera contribuì, infatti, al consolidarsi delle comuni radici cristiane dell’Europa, radici che con la loro linfa hanno impregnato la storia e le istituzioni europee.

Proprio per questo è stato chiesto che nel futuro Trattato costituzionale dell’Unione Europea non si manchi di far spazio a questo patrimonio comune dell’Oriente e dell’Occidente. Un simile riferimento non toglierà nulla alla giusta laicità delle strutture politiche (cfr Lumen gentium, 36; Gaudium et spes, 36, 76), ma, al contrario, aiuterà a preservare il Continente dal duplice rischio del laicismo ideologico, da una parte, e dell’integralismo settario, dall’altra.


3. Uniti sui valori e memori del proprio passato, i popoli europei potranno svolgere appieno il loro ruolo nella promozione della giustizia e della pace nel mondo intero. Preghiamo, a tal fine, Maria Santissima e i santi Patroni dell’Europa.


Angelus, 16-02-2003.




Bring the truth of God to every culture


[…] The reports you have brought from your various Dioceses attest to the new and demanding situations which represent pastoral challenges for the Church today. In fact, we may observe that in Scotland, as in many lands evangelized centuries ago and steeped in Christianity, there no longer exists the reality of a “Christian society”, that is, a society which, despite human weaknesses and failings, takes the Gospel as the explicit measure of its life and values. Rather, modern civilization, although highly developed from the standpoint of technology, is often stunted in its inner depths by a tendency to exclude God or keep him at a distance. This is what I referred to in my Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente as “the crisis of civilization”, a crisis which must be countered by “the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice and liberty, which find their full attainment in Christ” (No. 52). The new evangelization to which I have summoned the whole Church (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 40) can prove a particularly effective instrument for helping to usher in this civilization of love.

[…] An important aspect of the new evangelization is the deeply felt need for an evangelization of culture. Human cultures themselves are not static but are constantly changing through the contacts that people have with one another and through the new experiences which they share. The communication of values is what enables a culture to survive and flourish. Cultural context itself permeates the living out of the Christian faith, which in turn contributes to the shaping of that context. Christians are called, therefore, to bring the unchanging truth of God to every culture. And since “the community of the baptized is marked by a universality which can embrace everything”, the faithful are to be helped to foster whatever is implicit in different cultures “to the point where it will be fully explicit in the light of the truth” (Fides et Ratio, 71).

In societies where faith and religion are seen as something that should be restricted to the private sphere, and therefore as having no place in public or political debate, it is of even greater importance that the Christian message should be clearly understood for what it is: the Good News of truth and love which sets men and women free. When the foundations of a specific culture rest on Christianity, the voice of Christianity cannot be silenced without seriously impoverishing that culture. Moreover, if culture is the context in which the individual transcends himself, then removing the Absolute from that context, or pushing it off to one side as irrelevant, results in a dangerous fragmentation of reality and gives rise to crises, as culture will no longer be able to present to the younger generation the source of meaning and wisdom which it ultimately seeks. For this reason, Christians should be united in diakonia to society: in a true spirit of ecumenical cooperation, with your active participation, Christ’s disciples must never cease to make present in all areas of life – public and private – the light which the Lord’s teaching sheds upon the dignity of the human person.

This is the light of truth that dispels the darkness of selfish interests and social corruption, the light that illuminates the path of just economic development for all. And Christians are not alone in the task of making this light shine ever brighter in society. Together with men and women of other religious beliefs and with people of good will with whom they share common values and principles, your Catholic communities are called to work for the advancement of society and for the peaceful coexistence of peoples and cultures. Thus inter-religious commitment and partnership is also an important vehicle for serving the human family. Indeed, when the light of truth is not allowed to shine forth in public debate, error and illusion are easily multiplied and often come to dominate in policy decisions. This situation becomes all the more critical when those who have lost or abandoned belief in God attack religion: a new strain of sectarianism can emerge which is as bitter as it is tragic, adding a further element of divisiveness within society. […]

The powerful forces of the media and the entertainment industry are aimed largely at young people, who find themselves the target of competing ideologies which seek to condition and influence their attitudes and actions. Confusion is created as youth are beset by moral relativism and religious indifferentism. How can they come to grips with the question of truth and the requirements of consistency in moral behaviour when modern culture teaches them to live as though absolute values did not exist, or tells them to be content with a vague religiosity? The widespread loss of the transcendent sense of human existence leads to failure in moral and social life. Your task, dear Brothers, is to show the tremendous relevance for contemporary men and women – and for the younger generation – of Jesus Christ and his Gospel: for it is here that the deepest human aspirations and needs find fulfilment. The saving message of Jesus Christ needs to be heard anew in all its freshness and power, so that it can be fully experienced and savoured!


To the Bishops of Scotland in visit ad Limina Apostolorum, 04-03-2003.




The need for the evangelization of culture


[…] In a world fraught with scepticism and confusion, it may seem to some that the light of Christ has been obscured. Indeed, modern societies and cultures are often marked by a secularism that easily leads to a loss of the sense of God, and without God the proper sense of man is soon lost as well. “When the Creator is forgotten the creature itself grows unintelligible” (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36): people are no longer able to see themselves as “mysteriously different” from other earthly creatures and lose sight of the transcendent character of human existence. This is the context in which the liberating truth of Christ must resound: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). […]

A central aspect of the “new evangelization” to which I have called the entire Church is the evangelization of culture. For “at the heart of every culture lies the attitude man takes to the greatest mystery: the mystery of God. When this question is eliminated, the culture and moral life of nations are corrupted” (Centesimus Annus, 24). The challenge facing you, dear Brothers, is to see that the voice of Christianity is heard in the public arena and that the values of the Gospel are brought to bear in your societies and cultures. I am pleased to note in this regard the positive impact of your pastoral letters and statements on matters of contemporary concern in your countries. […]

The people of Scandinavia are well known for their participation in peace-keeping missions, their deep sense of responsibility in the face of ecological crises, and their generosity in providing humanitarian aid. True humanism, however, always includes God. Otherwise it will eventually, even if unintentionally, deny human beings their proper place in creation and will fail to acknowledge fully the dignity which belongs to every person (cf. Christifideles Laici, 5). Therefore you must help your respective cultures to draw on their rich Christian heritage in shaping their understanding of the human person. In Christ all people are brothers and sisters, and our gestures of solidarity towards them become acts of love and fidelity to Christ, who said whatever you do to one of the least of these, you do to me (cf. Mt 25:45). This is the foundation of the culture of life and the civilization of love that we seek to build up, and it is also the perspective underlying your efforts to welcome the growing number of migrants in the Nordic lands.


To the Bishops of Scandinavia in visit ad Limina Apostolorum, 05-04-2003.




Inculturare il Vangelo


[…] Il messaggio del Vangelo è per l’uomo di ogni razza e cultura, perché gli sia faro di luce e di salvezza nelle diverse situazioni in cui si trova a vivere. Questo perenne servizio alla “verità” dell’uomo appassiona quanti hanno a cuore che egli conosca sempre di più se stesso e percepisca, con crescente consapevolezza, l’anelito di incontrare Cristo, piena realizzazione dell’uomo. Ecco un vasto campo di azione anche per voi, che intendete contribuire con dinamismo missionario a individuare nuove strade per l’evangelizzazione delle culture.

Cristo è la verità che rende liberi quanti lo cercano con sincerità e perseveranza. E’ Lui la verità che la Chiesa proclama instancabilmente in modi diversi, diffondendo l’unico Vangelo di salvezza sino agli estremi confini della terra e inculturandolo nelle varie regioni del mondo.


Ai partecipanti al Convegno Internazionale promosso dalla Pontificia Università Lateranense sul tema: “Giovanni Paolo II: XXV anni di Pontificato. La Chiesa a servizio dell’uomo”, 09-05-2003.








A statement was approved February 18, 2003 at the close of the annual meeting of leaders of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Quebec City, titled “Pastoral Strategies in a Globalization Era”. Here we reproduce the concluding part of this statement.


[…] We, the Catholic bishops of the Americas, commit ourselves to and hold ourselves accountable for the following pastoral strategies.

– To conduct a vigorous and indepth critical analysis of globalization in order to better understand and educate the faithful as to the benefits and negative fallout of globalization.

– To recall and reclaim our spiritual heritage, with its rich mystical tradition and expressions of the past, so that the youth of today, who seem hungry and eager for this, might become the new evangelisers in our contemporary society.

– To emphasize, above all else, the compassionate face of Christ as demonstrated in the good Samaritan; in order to counter the cruel, impersonal and sometimes merciless onrush of globalization.

– In dialogue with shareholders, corporate leaders and policymakers, to do our utmost to instill in the globalization process much more inclusion and participation, and a greater concern for the common good.

– To acknowledge and promote the sacred character that is inherent and deeply embedded in every culture in order to inculturate the faith at a deeper level in our various American cultures.

– To celebrate the popular piety of the faithful that springs from a genuine encounter with the Gospel and that affirms it in so many diverse ways.

– To foster a pastoral sensitivity among the emerging lay leadership in the church today so that they, who are now increasingly implicated in the process of globalisation, may better humanize and evangelise that very process. […]














Il Santo Padre ha nominato Membri del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura ad quinquennium gli Eminentissimi Signori Cardinali Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, Arcivescovo di Jakarta (Indonesia), Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, Arcivescovo di Guadalajara (Messico) e ha riconfermato in aliud quinquennium gli Eminentissimi Signori Cardinali Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic, Arcivescovo di Toronto (Canada) e Christoph Schönborn, Arcivescovo di Wien (Austria).


Il Santo Padre ha nominato ad quinquennium Presidente della Pontificia Accademia Romana di Archeologia la Prof.ssa Letizia Pani Ermini.