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One Family of God within the Diversity of Cultures

27th to the 30th of October 2004, Johannesburg, South Africa


Press Release



From the 27th to the 30th of October 2004, the African members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture will meet to give a new impulse to the pastoral approach to culture, starting with a reflection on the theme One Family of God within the Diversity of Cultures. The meeting will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa. Also present will be bishops who have a responsibility for the pastoral approach to culture in their respective countries in Southern Africa (Angola, Sao Tomé, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe).

This meeting is the next in a series that seeks to encourage a pastoral approach to culture in different parts of the world. Previously in Africa, such a meeting was held in Yaoundé in 2000, which gave the bishops of Central Africa occasion to reflect on A Christian Culture of Peace. This time, special attention will be given to the evangelisation of cultures, with a focus on questions concerning diversity and unity.

In the current context, strongly marked by the phenomenon of globalisation, the Church seeks to promote cultural diversity in the unity of faith in Christ, and the spread of the culture of solidarity and brotherhood. Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will give the keynote address: The Eucharist and the Church, Source and Instrument of the Unity of Peoples in their Cultural Diversity.

The Church is aware of the fundamental cultural dimension of sustainable development, which is indispensable for the future of the African continent. For this, consideration will be given to the different cultural values present in Africa that serve the dignity of the human person. As cultural values express the soul of a people, their use as anchor points for the proclamation of the faith will be promoted. Indeed, the Church is rich in traditional values that have been strengthened by the faith, and can make their specific contribution to the challenges of reconciliation and peace.

The action of the Holy Spirit in building up the Church, one family of God from a variety of cultures, puts the Gospel at the heart of the pastoral approach to culture and of dialogue with all men and women of goodwill in their cultures, especially those marked by religious indifference. Focus will also be given to the Incarnation and Redemption as foundations for inculturation, whereby the Gospel assumes and purifies cultures marked by sin.

The academic staff and students of St Augustine's College of South Africa will participate in the bishops' reflections during a special university session that will give them a chance to offer their own contribution. That session will be followed by the graduation ceremony of St Augustine's College of South Africa, which the bishops will attend to show support for the "new intellectual thrust by Christians" called for by Pope John Paul II in his address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture on the 13th of March this year.