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Visite ad limina des Évêques d’Égypte

Ad limina Visit of Bishops from the Philippines

Mostra di icone moderne: Immagini del Kairos

Ad limina Visit of Bishops from England and Wales

Austria: Convegno dell’Ordinariato militare

Il Vademecum dei Centri Culturali Cattolici









Les évêques d’Égypte en visite ad limina Apostolorum ont été reçus au siège du Conseil Pontifical de la Culture, le 29 août 2003. C’est au nom du Cardinal Paul Poupard, Président, que le Père Fabio Duque Jaramillo, sous-secrétaire, a reçu le Patriarche d’Alexandrie accompagné des 9 évêques Coptes, de l’évêque du Caire des Chaldéens et du Vicaire apostolique latin d’Alexandrie.

Après un rapide mot de bienvenue à Sa Béatitude le Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, le Père Duque a longuement répondu à la demande des évêques sur les activités du Dicastère. Il a été demandé de préciser ce que le Conseil Pontifical de la Culture entend par le concept de « culture ». Un évêque a exprimé le besoin d’une réflexion sur : « Comment présenter le dogme chrétien aux musulmans », ce qui a permis de mettre en évidence le rôle des Centres Culturels Catholiques. Ce type de réflexion, qui relève des experts et des pasteurs locaux, est encouragé par le Conseil Pontifical de la Culture à travers les Centres Culturels Catholiques et les Colloques organisés pour leurs directeurs. Il a ainsi été fait référence au Colloque de Fatqa, en 2001, et Barcelone, en 2003, pour les pays du bassin méditerranéen.

Les évêques ont souligné la richesse de la culture égyptienne, et comment des siècles de cohabitation leur ont appris à vivre en paix avec les musulmans. Un évêque s’est interrogé sur la tension entre universalité et particularité, et sur quelles bases dialoguer avec les athées. L’expérience du Dicastère, notamment dans ses relations avec les organismes internationaux, montre qu’une réflexion sur l’homme constitue une base de dialogue.







On Monday 29 September 2003, fifteen Filipino bishops came from dioceses in the Mindanao region, where the majority of the population are Muslims, to visit the Pontifical Council for Culture. They were welcomed by Fr. Fabio Duque Jaramillo, Under-secretary of the Council, Fr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca y Alameda, Head of Office, Fr. Anthony Bui Kim Phong, and Mr Richard Rouse.

After the opening prayer, Fr. Fabio, on behalf of the Cardinal President, welcomed the visitors. He expressed his admiration of the Philippines, the most inculturated Church in Asia, and a desire for a closer collaboration between the Filipinos Bishops Conference and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The representative of the Commission for Culture of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, reported the activities of this commission. Their agenda is based on two general questions: How can faith be proclaimed in a diversity of cultures, and how can cultures enrich faith and be enhanced by it. To carry out a dialogue with culture, reported the bishop, the Commission organises various seminar-workshops on subcultures, youth, mass-media, politics, history, religions and inculturation. They look forward to publishing the acts of all the symposia of the last nine years, and a textbook on religion and culture for the high-schools. There then followed a fruitful exchange of concerns and opinions.

One Bishop raised the question of the New Age phenomena. He appreciated the recent document and noted that there are other New Age movements in the Philippines that are not mentioned in it. He asked whether they could use New Age techniques and methods for spiritual refreshment giving the example of the Enneagram, about which another stated: “we use it because we attempt to take what is good in human society and transform it and use it for what is Divine”. Don Melchor stated that it’s a matter of criteria and discernment. The people do not have a strong philosophical and theological basis on which to decide, and look for leadership and direction in the pastors in using New Age techniques of yoga, meditation, and other oriental techniques. It is a question of the philosophical and religious basis to the New Age movement. Sometimes, the techniques require a vision of man, of God or of creation contrary to Christian understanding and doctrine.

A Bishop asked what relationship should there be between faith and culture, if a culture assumes a practice that goes against the faith, such as polygamy. A culture can not be absolute in itself, was the reply. Culture is not immutable. We do not have power over morals, but by accepting the faith, we become subject to morals. It is by embracing this yoke that we become free. We do not possess the moral teaching of the Church, it possesses us. Another Bishop added that the problem is becoming more acute in the Philippines with the arrival of a New Constitution and the associated debate on the approval of polygamy for Muslims. Extremist Muslims in some areas are carrying out belligerent campaigns for independence and seeking to impose Shari’a. In the dioceses and territorial prelatures of Mindanao around 90-95% are Muslim. There have been persecutions and many have died as martyrs.

A Bishop stated that one of the principal concerns of the Filipinos in inculturation is separating the divine light which is the pure Gospel from the trappings and dressings of Western culture. There is great fear that Christianity becomes identified with Western materialist culture.

A Bishop requested: “Is there something you can offer us to avoid the secularisation process?”. He added that there was a general grumbling about the Mass media and its effects. He also noted that the Church can use these powerful instruments. The Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Culture has already held a symposium on this matter. Mr Rouse said that secularisation often leads to secularism. The Pontifical Council for Culture is currently working on a document which offers remedies and responses to the culture of non belief and indifference, one of whose principle causes is secularism. It is good news that you are looking to prepare a pre-emptive strike! The primary means to be remembered is the human contact on a personal and emotive level, handing on the joy of faith from person to person. Thereafter follow the initiatives at levels of the family, small societies, groups, networks, Catholic Cultural Centres, schools, Universities, Conferences and Episcopal boards, the Mass Media, forms of television, radio, publishing, internet etc. One Bishop wished to re-echo the Holy Father’s description of the new religious movements which emphasise this personal contact as the “fruit of the new Pentecost”. Mr Rouse stated that another thing to remember about the globalised and secularised world is the huge increase in levels of despair. The joy of Christ, theme of the post-Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, must be used as a counter-measure to this dangerous phenomenon.

The Church in the Philippines has a great advantage because the values of the Gospel formed the individual feelings and characterised social attitudes. The Church in Europe is in crisis in these two aspects. Consequently, the way to deal with secularism in the Philippines ought to be different from the one in Europe. We are in the same Church, so we have the same criteria for discernment. But discerning and deciding a way to avoid secularism in the Philippines belongs to the pastors in the field, who know well their field and their sheep.

Don Melchor then introduced a copy of Catholic Cultural Centers published by Pontifical Council for Culture in which there are 45 Philippine entries. He outlined the important role of these centres in providing assistance and collaborating with the local bishops in the evangelisation of cultures and the inculturation of faith.

The Undersecretary thanked Filipinos bishops for coming and sharing their concerns, strategies and ideas. These contributions, said Fr. Fabio, will help the Pontifical Council for Culture to fulfil its assignment. He assured the visitors that the Pontifical Council for Culture is always in service of the needs of local churches. Lastly, he conveyed to bishops the greetings and good wishes of the Cardinal President.







Il Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura e l’Ambasciata d’Austria presso la Santa Sede hanno organizzato, in occasione del 25° anno di Pontificato del Santo Padre, la mostra di icone moderne “Immagini del Kairos” dell’artista austriaco 83enne Anton Wollenek.

Si tratta dell’80ma esposizione di questo tipo, la prima è stata organizzata a Baden presso Vienna nel 1967. Le 32 opere esposte presso la Sede del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura, dal 15 ottobre al 9 novembre 2003, fanno parte delle circa 60 icone create dall’artista. Le icone sono tagliate nel legno, in bassorilievo, e successivamente dorate e dipinte.

Le moderne icone del Dr. Wollenek hanno una particolarità: esse vogliono esprimere contemporaneamente, attraverso la particolare iconografia creata dallo stesso artista, le due anime, i “due polmoni” della Chiesa: quello orientale e quello occidentale, ha detto il cardinale Paul Poupard, inaugurando la mostra. L’ambasciatore d’Austria presso la Santa Sede, Walter Greinert, ha detto che la mostra “vuol essere anche un contributo al dialogo tra cattolici ed ortodossi”.

L’artista ha sottolineato che le icone sono una traduzione della Sacra Scrittura e del depositum fidei in un’immagine biblica e spirituale: raffigurano Cristo, la Beata Vergine Maria e anche i Santi, e costituiscono oggetto di venerazione.

Le icone, come la Chiesa, sono in continuo dinamismo. La loro evoluzione, a livello teologico e a livello di pittura, segue quella della Chiesa nei periodi aurei come anche nei periodi di miseria e di persecuzione.







“Whereas some are so enthusiastic in their efforts at inculturation that they put aside the tenets of the faith, and others are so entranced in the faith that they are afraid to engage with culture, Catholicism has the readiness and qualities necessary to be both thoroughly engaged in cultures and at the same to be wholly rooted in the Gospel”. This was the viewpoint expressed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who was accompanied by a party of some 20 representatives of the Episcopal Conference of England and Wales, during a visit to the offices of the Pontifical Council for Culture. This large turn-out was but a measure of how the English and Welsh hierarchy considers the meeting of the saving message of gospel with the cultures of our times to be of utmost importance.


The Quinquennial Reports

The ad limina reports received in advance had described the U.K. as being tainted by consumerism, scientism, indifferentism, relativism and growing levels of individualism. Although the media-driven celebrity culture was of particular concern, various signs of hope had been described: British society remains disposed to engage in charitable works; the dignity of the human person is promoted through rights issues both at home and abroad; a Christian heritage underlies much of society’s behaviour, even if anonymously so; many local initiatives are being undertaken thanks to the good work and volunteerism of the people; many Catholics are engaged in public life, in the arts, in education, the sciences and in politics; in parishes and dioceses across the spectrum the laity are celebrating the faith, learning it, living it out and caring for others in ways rarely uncovered by sociologists and social commentators; the credibility of the Church remains high despite some outright attacks. Concern had also been expressed about whether British culture will continue to develop in the direction of the common good, and the need for a correct anthropology and clarity in life and ethical issues.


Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture

Cardinal Paul Poupard recited some of the principles of the Church’s engagement with culture, outlining the elements of study, reflection and prayer needed to identify today’s challenges and opportunities. He drew on the document Towards a pastoral approach to culture to give a description of the Church’s undertakings in the area of culture, “a fundamental dimension of the spirit, which places people in a relationship with one another and unites them in what is most truly theirs, namely, their common humanity”. The Church’s dialogue with cultures always returns to this basic common element of humanity and with respect, tolerance and clarity seeks to enrich it by expressing and communicating the faith, hope and joy of our Redemption in Christ. It is not a question of reducing dialogue with cultures to the lowest common denominator, but of transforming and renewing them in the light of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is Beauty, Love and Truth to all things and to all people. It is by such Light that the Church makes a difference to the cultures in which we live.


The Cultures of Unbelief and Indifference

The facts are well-known. In the United Kingdom, as in many parts of the Western world, the numbers attending Church are decreasing while the numbers of those who live as though God did not exist and of those who are categorised as “believing without belonging” continue to rise. Paradoxically, “faith” in atheism is also flailing with levels down to just 1 or 2%. The old interlocutors of the dialogue with non believers, the famous theorists of atheism, such as Nietzsche and Marx, are somewhat passé and nobody has seriously replaced them. Instead, there is a notable growth in indifference and a waning of well-informed debate and dialogue. We live in a culture of indifference and, what is perhaps worse, ignorance. So how can the Church go about engaging this culture of indifference in dialogue to bring out our common humanity and build the common good?

With whom, when, where and how we can engage cultures in dialogue are matters addressed in Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture. The particular cultural milieus of indifference and unbelief are the themes of the forthcoming plenary meeting of the council which is expected to examine the concrete means to respond to them. Such a pastoral response must spring from the ordinary living-out of the faith. It includes that most massive of forms of communication, person to person dialogue through word and action. It requires an engagement with the language of our times, the “nowism” and aggressiveness common to youth and media cultures. It is expressed in a variety of initiatives in education and formation, the establishment of places in which to identify, listen to and dialogue with exponents of the contemporary world, the articulation of themes of particular relevance and the encouragement of all those means used by the Church to let the faith live, grow and transform the world for nearly 2,000 years.


The Misconception of Science

The meeting addressed the manner with which the Church has responded to scientific discoveries and developments. We are all aware of the tales about the Church’s rapport with Galileo and Darwin, but what is the truth behind them, what has happened since, and how will we face up to future scientific developments? Often the faith is pitted against science in an either-or equation as though the two were incompatible. As can be seen in the faith of various Nobel science prize winners, the problem is not so much with science and the scientists, but with the popular understanding of science as an anomaly for religion. Addressing this misconception, which arises out of ignorance, is a priority. For this reason, Project STOQ ( has been launched. Its aim is to increase the dialogue between faith and science and to publicise their favourable and interdependent rapport. Project STOQ aims to help transform the way our cultures view the science-faith question at ground level by offering clergy and laity alike an awareness of the interdependence of science and theology in the ontological quest.

Concern was also expressed for the culture of technology, which is visibly leading our children and tomorrow’s world into a state of individualism with high levels of isolation. Against this stands the Christian faith, an inspirational source for science and a cohesive force for scientists.


Effective Communication to Quench the Spiritual Thirst in the UK

One issue faced in the U.K. is that of creating the cultural conditions necessary to provoke people to ask the “big questions”. Man is by nature a spiritual being, but in the U.K.’s consumer and media-sodden society it is often hard to identify the spiritual thirst innate to all people and to quench that thirst with the Truth. Consumerism often creates the problem of a false sense of happiness leaving the consumer destitute of the desire to confront a higher calling. But there are moments in which a spiritual thirst can be and is provoked. Beyond the various traditional stages of life, such as birth, marriage and death, it can also flourish at other key moments, amongst the retired, the students, the thirty-somethings, and those who have attained a certain stability and success in their employment lives and are looking for something more.

Another issue is the presentation of the response to these “big questions”, that is, how to communicate in a comprehensible manner the good news of our God Incarnate. Which language can effectively convey the message of the salvation of the world? The concepts, ideas and thought structures we use are often alien to those to whom we are speaking, and so we need to be careful to express the fullness of our message ad modum recipientis. There is a need to speak both the language of the people and the language of the Church, to keep one foot in church and one foot in the world. Concerns were expressed about the Media, particularly the old problem of the inadequacy of journalism to communicate the fullness of the message we desire to express, but also the scandal-driven journalism which can distort the truth and damage credibility, including that of the Church. The media has its job to do, but the Church has the message of the Good News of Christ to proclaim.

Among the techniques to provoke and address the “big questions” in a de-christianised society mentioned were courses such as Alpha, and projects such as the Semaines sociales de France which see parishioners, schools, academics, the great and the good addressing appropriate themes. There are many instruments, not the least of which are Catholic Cultural Centres, museums and exhibitions, that can be used to ensure a Christian cultural presence in society to provoke and respond gently, patiently and with clarity to the spiritual thirst that can only be truly satisfied in God.

The difficulty of effective communication of the Truth was also present in the meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well in Samaria, theme of another recent publication, Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life. This provisional document seeks to be a step in the dialogue between Christianity and the cultural phenomenon of New Age, hence its sub-title, Christian Reflections on the New Age. The New Age, like the sects, has grown rapidly because it has managed to tap into the spiritual thirst present in society. The document not only offers a critique of certain New Age techniques and some useful tools to discern their rapport with Christianity, but is also a paradigm of the threefold nature of dialogue: listen, consider its accord with the truth, act. Cardinal Poupard appealed to the visitors to take heart in their difficulties communicating the faith, for in the end Jesus did get the message of Truth across to the Samaritan woman.







L’Istituto per la Religione e la Pace presso l’Ordinariato Militare d’Austria (Institut für Religion und Frieden) ha organizzato, il 15 e 16 ottobre 2003, nel centro “Jakob Kern”-Haus di Vienna, un incontro sul tema: Sicurezza e pace, quale sfida europea: il contributo dei soldati cattolici alla luce della “Pacem in Terris”, con la partecipazione di numerosi ufficiali, sottufficiali e personalità d’Austria, nonché di ufficiali e chierici, rappresentanti degli ordinariati militari d’Ucraina, Slovenia, Croazia, Ungheria, Lituania e Repubblica Ceca.

Il primo giorno è stato dedicato soprattutto ai superiori delle forze armate austriache, i quali hanno assistito molto numerosi. Tra i sei relatori del primo giorno è intervenuto Mons. Gergely Kovács, Officiale del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura con una relazione sul tema: Un’Europa dei popoli e delle nazioni. La fede cristiana in chiave culturale. Avendo chiarito cosa intende con il termine Europa e analizzato il concetto di cultura, si è soffermato sul fatto che Europa è un mosaico delle culture, sottolineando la necessità della diversità nell’unità. Poi ha parlato del cristianesimo, come elemento innegabile della realtà europea. Soltanto una cultura permeata dal cristianesimo può essere il fondamento per l’unità e per il futuro dell’Europa. L’Europa non può permettersi di dimenticare le sue radici e deve, continuamente, ritornare alla fonte, a Cristo.

Il secondo giorno è stato dedicato ai soli partecipanti provenienti da altri Paesi con lo scopo di favorire il reciproco scambio. Anzitutto sono stati presentati il modo, le possibilità e le circostanze in cui si svolge la pastorale dei militari nei Paesi dai quali i partecipanti provenivano. I presenti hanno espresso il loro desiderio di una più stretta collaborazione tra loro in futuro, con un coordinamento più efficace.

La visita al Museo della storia delle armi (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum), guidata dallo stesso direttore del Museo, ed una serata piacevolissima nella città di Rust, conclusasi con una cena rustica nel locale Alte Schmiede, hanno conferito all’incontro un’atmosfera ancora più cordiale.

Il Direttore dell’Institut für Religion und Frieden, Mons. Werner Freistetter ha incluso nel soggiorno di Mons. Kovács una visita alla mostra Metanoia nel Museo arcidiocesano di Vienna, dedicato a Mons. Otto Mauer (+1973), autentico e profetico protettore e promotore del dialogo tra la Chiesa e l’arte, nonché una visita alla chiesa Karlskirche, con la guida esperta di Mons. Alfred Sammer, Cancelliere dell’Ordinariato Militare austriaco e Membro della Pontificia Insigne Accademia di Belle Arti e Lettere dei Virtuosi al Pantheon di Roma.







E’ stato presentato, il 14 novembre 2003, nella Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, il Vademecum dei Centri Culturali Cattolici, composto di quattro volumetti (Perché? Cos’è? Cosa fare? Dove?), riuniti in una copertina-contenitore, e pubblicato dalle Edizioni San Paolo.

Il Vademecum, progettato e realizzato congiuntamente dal Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura e dal Servizio Nazionale per il Progetto Culturale della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, è stato presentato da S. Em. il Cardinal Paul Poupard, Presidente del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura, da S. E. Mons. Giuseppe Betori, Segretario Generale della Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, da Mons. Pasquale Iacobone, Officiale del Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura e dal Dott. Vittorio Sozzi, del Servizio Nazionale per il Progetto Culturale della C.E.I.

Agli interventi dei due Prelati, che hanno illustrato le finalità e le caratteristiche essenziali del Vademecum, sono seguite diverse e pertinenti domande da parte dei giornalisti presenti, a cui hanno risposto anche gli altri due interlocutori.

Il Cardinal Poupard ha aperto la Conferenza stampa ripercorrendo le tappe del dialogo sempre più fecondo intercorso tra il Pontificio Consiglio della Cultura ed i Centri Culturali Cattolici sparsi nel mondo. Nei numerosi incontri realizzati sia in ambito mediterraneo sia in altri contesti culturali e territoriali, quale ad esempio il recente incontro realizzato in Cile, a Valparaiso, per i Centri Culturali Cattolici del Cono Sur, si sono ascoltate le necessità e le domande degli stessi Centri, per aiutarli e sostenerli nel loro cammino.

Il Cardinale ha quindi affermato: “Oggi, presentando il Vademecum, articolato in tre fascicoli che rispondono alle tre domande: Perché? Cos’è? Cosa fare?, a cui si aggiunge il Dove?, con l’elenco dei Centri italiani, rispondiamo ad una pressante esigenza: definire, per quanto possibile, l’identità, la fisionomia, l’azione specifica dei Centri Culturali Cattolici“.

Comunque siano denominati e strutturati, ha proseguito il Presule, “sempre hanno come finalità essenziale quella di mettere in rapporto la fede cristiana con la cultura o le culture del nostro tempo, e con tutti i fenomeni connessi. Dunque è il rapporto fede-cultura il binario essenziale su cui si muovono tutte le realtà che chiamiamo Centri Culturali Cattolici.

Se allora ci chiediamo “Perché un Centro Culturale Cattolico?“, la risposta è ovvia: perché, ora più che mai, il confronto tra la fede e la cultura o le culture del nostro tempo è ineludibile, non si può annunciare il Vangelo e vivere la fede in Gesù Cristo prescindendo dalla realtà circostante, dai modi di vivere e di pensare della gente, dalle dinamiche culturali e sociali che cambiano, e a volte stravolgono i paradigmi tradizionali dei rapporti umani e sociali“.

Il Cardinal Poupard ha poi definito i Centri Culturali Cattolici come vere “postazioni di frontiera“. “La loro collocazione – ha affermato – è sulla frontiera, nelle zone di tangenza e di possibile incontro tra le tradizionali comunità cristiane e quei “territori umani“ dove il Vangelo non solo non è ascoltato ma neanche più conosciuto, ed in cui la cultura, il modo di vivere concreto, ha dimenticato quasi del tutto il riferimento al trascendente, ai valori dello spirito. Ci sono poi “territori tematici“, cioè problematiche di interesse comune dove è importante, ed urgente, che i cristiani offrano il loro contributo di riflessione e di esperienza, per favorire un sincero discernimento ed un autentico progresso nell’umanità“.

E’ quindi intervenuto Mons. Betori, che ha delineato più precisamente il quadro italiano, inserendo l’impegno dei Centri Culturali Cattolici nel più ampio Progetto Culturale della Chiesa Italiana. “Il Servizio Nazionale per il Progetto Culturale – ha affermato il Segretario Generale della C.E.I. – ha cercato di tessere una “rete di relazioni” tra tutti i soggetti ecclesiali per motivarli ad assumere in “sinergia” il compito di una traduzione del messaggio della fede cristiana in linguaggi, in mentalità, in stili di vita che siano autenticamente evangelici e al contempo proponibili, praticabili e plausibili oggi. I Centri Culturali Cattolici, già presenti in gran numero nelle diverse regioni italiane, sono stati tra i primi ad essere coinvolti nell’“azione corale” che è il proprium del progetto culturale a motivo del forte radicamento territoriale che essi assicurano ad una cultura cristianamente ispirata“.

Nelle successive domande dei giornalisti è emersa, tra le altre, l’attualissima problematica del dialogo con i credenti di altre religioni, in particolare con i musulmani, a cui i Centri Culturali Cattolici già contribuiscono in maniera chiara e coraggiosa, soprattutto nei Paesi a maggioranza musulmana.

Nel corso della Conferenza stampa è stata, infine, annunciata la prossima traduzione in varie lingue del Vademecum, perché esso possa essere davvero utile a tutti i Centri Culturali Cattolici sparsi nel mondo, e che condividono la stessa passione per il dialogo tra la fede cristiana e le culture del nostro tempo.