153 – “The Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal”

One of Cicero’s famous sayings defines history as a thing ‘which bears witness to the passing of the ages, sheds light upon reality, gives life to recollection and guidance to human existence, and brings tidings of ancient days’ (De Oratore II, 9, 36). And it is precisely the witness of history that shows us how the ancient peoples lived, with their cultures given to idolatry, slavery and even human sacrifice. Christ changed all of this by bringing the light of the truth and the law of the Gospel; he gave his disciples the mandate to preach to all nations and to transform the face of the earth. They were to lead all to live by God’s precepts, in his grace, and in fraternal charity. Saint Paul, a paradigm in so many areas, heeded the Saviors bidding and also became a paradigm of respect for all cultures. He sought to purify them of error, and perfect their qualities. With the Greeks he spoke Greek, and preached in the Areopagus of Athens of an ‘Unknown God’ (Acts 17:23); as a Roman citizen (cf. Acts 16:37; 22:25, 27), he understood this people’s jurisprudential leaning, and spoke to them of the Law in legal terms, (cf. Rom 7:1). As a free man, he made himself a slave with the slaves; a Jew with the Jews, he made himself weak with the weak, to win them over: ‘I have become all things to all, to save at least some. All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it’ (1Cor 9:22–23). As Benedict XVI points out, being the Apostle to the Gentiles, he is even a prototype of the universality of the Church: ‘Paul thus appears to be at the intersection between three different cultures – Roman, Greek and Jewish – and perhaps partly because of this was disposed for fruitful universalistic openness, for a mediation between cultures, for true universality’ (Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 27, 2008).

Which is to say, history bears witness to the fruits of the Pauline apostolate, and that of the other apostles and disciples, in the flourishing of Christian civilization. This civilization, far from “falling into a needless hallowing of our own culture,” has marked, with an array of benefits, the most varied peoples, in their multiform distinctiveness – especially in Europe and all lands receptive to its Christian influence. ‘The history of Europe shows how, at different times, there were institutions that created culture, in a fruitful synthesis of Christianity and humanism. It is sufficient to think of the role of the Benedictine monasteries and the Universities which sprung up everywhere in Europe, from Paris to Oxford, from Bologna to Krakow, from Prague to Salamanca. The institution of the family, since it is called in the salvific plan of God to be the original and first institution of education, should always reinforce its presence in these institutions that are creators of true culture’ (John Paul II. Address to the participants of the Symposium on the Family Apostolate in Europe, November 26, 1982).

And we must not overlook the ‘flowing benefits of charity,’ as Pius XII terms the emergence of such institutions as ‘hospitals, orphanages, Orders for the ransom of slaves, for the defense of pilgrims, houses for women at risk, associations to visit and console prisoners, and in more recent times, leprosariums, institutions for aiding the poor elderly, the blind, the deaf–mute, immigrants, children of prisoners, the mutilated; which are all, together with the names of their founders and associates, among the precious pearls which adorn the Mystical Body of Christ’ (Pius XII. Allocution to the delegates of the Italian National Congress of the Societies of Charity, April 22, 1952: AAS 54, 1952, p.468–469).

Clearly, then, faith is far from being fanaticism or an obstacle; it is a fruitful force behind the creation of cultural.

Francis

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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter in the various parts of our study

ContentsAuthors
I – The normal consequence of Catholic evangelization is the formation of an eminently Christian culture, which does not shun cultural diversity, but purifies each different culture of error and evil, and elevates it to unity with the Church, as in the historic example of the evangelization of the Americas
II – Catholics must love, conserve and develop the cultural aspects which are born of the practice of the true Religion, and avoid losing them in the dialogue with non-Christian cultures
III – Europe is where the Cristian faith, received in baptism, most flourished. Thus, the Catholic culture it engendered is rooted in the Gospel. It is not exclusive, but exemplary


I – The normal consequence of Catholic evangelization is the formation of an eminently Christian culture, which does not shun cultural diversity, but purifies each different culture of error and evil, and elevates it to unity with the Church, as in the historic example of the evangelization of the Americas


Catechism of the Catholic Church

In the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together, and such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity
The Church, leaven and soul of human society, must carry out a process of inculturation of the Gospel in the establishment of Christian communities
Proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up truth and goodness and to purify men and nations from error and evil

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

The Church, in establishing the kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes their customs to itself, insofar as they are good, purifying, strengthening, elevating and ennobling them

Paul VI

The desire to come together as brothers must not lead to a watering down or whittling away of truth

John Paul II

Because of misinterpreted progressivism, many pretend to identify the Church with immobile attitudes of the past, disqualifying it as something already surpassed
Although it is true that faith transcends all culture, there is an intimate linking between the Gospel and the achievements of humanity
In Our Lady of Guadalupe’s face are symbolized the power and solidity of the evangelization among the diverse indigenous peoples and ethnic groups and cultures
The first evangelization essentially marked the historic-cultural identity of Latin America
The Church has left deep traces, which penetrate deep down in the history and character of each people
The faith is the yeast for an authentic culture, for its dynamism promotes the realization of a balanced cultural synthesis

Pius XII

The Catholic priests worked as missionaries to teach the Gospel to the natives, and proclaimed that the natives were to be treated as brothers by the colonists

II – Catholics must love, conserve and develop the cultural aspects which are born of the practice of the true Religion, and avoid losing them in the dialogue with non-Christian cultures


Pius XII

True Christians should be filled with an ardent desire to see the faith take root and flourish in every land

Synod of Bishops

A secular mentality can also be detected in the matter of religion, gradually leading people to moral relativism or religious indifference

John Paul II

It is necessary for Catholics to adhere so firmly to the absoluteness of God that they can be witnesses to Him in a materialistic civilization that denies Him

Pontifical Council for Culture

In dialogue with non-believers the missionary mandate of Christ must not be forgotten
There is a rupture in the handing on the faith, intimately linked to the abandonment of a popular culture long impregnated by Christianity
It is not only a question of grafting the faith onto these cultures, but also of revitalizing a de-Christianized world

International Theological Commission

However great the respect should be for the cultural heritage of a people, we cannot forget the transcendence of the Gospel in relation to all human cultures in which the Christian faith has the vocation to root itself and come to fruition

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

With great respect and attention for the traditions and culture of non-Christians, we Christians are called to bear witness to the Gospel and to proclaim it explicitly to them

Pius IX

In these times of confusion and disorder, it is not unusual to see Christians who constantly have a word of conformity and negotiation on their lips. I do not consider them to be the lesser enemies of the Church

III – Europe is where the Cristian faith, received in baptism, most flourished. Thus, the Catholic culture it engendered is rooted in the Gospel. It is not exclusive, but exemplary


Sacred Scripture

Go and make disciples of all nations
Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature
Proclaim the word; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching

John Paul II

Cyril, Methodius, and Benedict, witnesses to different cultures, founded their civilizing work upon the Gospel
The felicitous combination of classical culture and Christian faith with the traditions of various peoples took place in Charlemagne’s empire and developed as the spiritual and cultural legacy of Europe
Through the centuries, Christianity has made an important contribution to the formation of the cultural heritage of peoples
The Christian roots of Europe are the main guarantee of its future
The European identity is incomprehensible without Christianity, where those common roots are found of its civilization, its culture, its dynamism, its activity – in a word, its glory
The whole of Europe testifies the relationship between culture and Christianity

Benedict XVI

Monasticism involves not only a culture of the word, but also a culture of work, without which the emergence of Europe would be unthinkable

Pius XII

The uncultured invaders received the blessings of the true Faith

Cardinal Angelo Sodano

The Church and Europe are two realities intimately united, which have enriched each other with values that are not only the soul of European civilization but also part of the heritage of the whole of humanity

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2 thoughts on “153 – “The Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal”

  1. My take on the Pope’s comment is that the Church must not hallow the current culture to the point of fanaticism; but, rather, to regain that evangelical zeal which transforms cultures.
    We’re it not for that zeal, which brought missionaries to the shores of the Americas, our Pope knows that his family would have met pagans instead of Catholics when they emigrated from Italy to Argentina. But they knew that the Catholic culture was there to greet them, and they flourished in it.
    I think we are all in agreement on this.

  2. Respect all cultures except the Catholic Culture seems to be Francis’s aim in life. Open churches to Muslims, let rock music be sung in St. Peter’s, abolish protocols, speak in ordinary language, dress in an untidy cassock, preach revolt to the youth…. and so on and so on…. And all this done by a man who says cultures should not be changed. What does he think he is doing to our Catholic culture…. All this make me wonder…. where is this all going to end up? Thank you Fathers for showing us Catholics, that there still exist true priests of God in the church, proof that God will not abandon us.

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