New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Chruch and Culture - Bl Pope John Paul II

The Church and culture

Thought about culture has a long history in the life of the Church. Indeed, it has been a constant preoccupation, becoming remarkably accentuated at crucial moments of human history. We are in fact considering a topic which is central to human life and the life of the Church.

Culture is primarily to do with human beings and the meaning of their existence. I said as much in my address to UNESCO some years ago: 'For a culture to be created, man has to be seen - integrally and in its remotest consequences - as an autonomous, particular value, a subject endowed with transcendence of person. We must affirm man for himself, and not for other motives or reasons: for himself alone! Even more, we must love man because he is man, we must insist on love for man because of the particular dignity that is his' (Address to UNESCO, 2 June 1980, n.10).

A culture should be a space and a tool for making human life ever more humane (ef. Redemptor hominis 14; Gaudium et Spes 38), so that people can lead decent lives in accordance with God's plan. A culture which is not at the service of the human person is no true culture.

In attempting to evangelize our culture, then, the Church makes a radical option for humanity. Her option is thus for a true, integral humanism, raising the dignity of humanity to its true and inalienable dimension of the children of God. Christ reveals humanity to itself (ef. Gaudium et Spes 22), and restores people's greatness and dignity to them by letting them rediscover the value of their humanity, though obscured by sin. What immense value human beings must have in God's eyes, to have deserved so great a Redeemer!

Consequently, the Church's activities cannot be associated with those of the types of 'humanism' which limit themselves to a merely economic, biological or psychological view of human nature. The Christian conception of life is always open to God's love. Faithful to her aforesaid vocation, the Church holds herself above the various ideologies, so as to opt uniquely for man on the basis of the liberating Christian message.

This humanistic option from the Christian point of view requires clear awareness of a scale of values, since these are the foundations of every society.Without values there is no chance of building a truly humane society for these determine not only the course of our personal lives, but that of the politics and strategies of public life as well. A culture that ceases to be founded on the supreme values inevitably turns against humanity.

The big problems afflicting contemporary culture originate from this desire to isolate private and public life from a correct scale of values. No economic or political model will fully serve the common good if it is not based on the fundamental values corresponding to the truth about the human person, 'the truth which has been revealed to us by Christ in all its fullness and depth' (Dives in misericordia 1,2). Systems that regard economics as the unique and determining factor of the social fabric are doomed, by their own internal logic, to turn against humanity.

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