129 – “We must create new forms of cultural synthesis. Those who migrate force those who welcome them to change. We must promote the culture of encounter”

In our day, marked by the welcoming of migrants and the ‘collaborating with people who think differently,’ many may be shocked at the words of the Angelic Doctor: ‘Man’s relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful, and hostile’ (I-II, 105, a.3)

Yes, in this article of the Summa Theologica, Saint Thomas explains the Chosen people’s relations with foreigners in detail: ‘Befriend the foreigner, feeding and clothing him’ (Dt 10:18); ‘You shall not violate the rights of the foreigner’ (Dt 24:17); ‘When a foreigner resides with you in your land, do not molest him’ (Lev 19:33).

But it is also very clear that this benevolence was intended for the outsiders who came seeking to integrate, in some manner, with the Chosen people, and become true compatriots. This was true to such an extent, that all of the laws that God had set for practice by the Jews were also binding for the foreigners: ‘You shall have but one rule, for foreigner and native alike. I, the Lord, am your God’ (Lev 24:22); ‘You shall have the same law for the resident foreigner as for the native of the land’ (Num 9:14). ‘There is but one rule for you and for the resident foreigner’ (Num 15:16). ‘You shall have but one law for him who sins inadvertently, whether he be a native Israelite or an foreigner residing with you’ (Num 15:29). ‘Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall be put to death. The whole community shall stone him; foreigner and native alike must be put to death for blaspheming the Lord’s name’ (Lev 24:16).

Often the reason why God commands this hospitality becomes clear: He wishes that the true religion be made known to the others, in the desire that He be adored by all peoples, just as he was among the Israelite people: ‘To the foreigner, likewise, who is not of your people Israel, but comes from a distant land to honor you (since men will learn of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this temple, listen from your heavenly dwelling. Do all that the foreigner asks of you, that all the peoples of the earth may know your name, may fear you as do your people Israel’ (1Kings 8:41-44).

But the compassionate attitude God ordained did not dispense a special vigilance in relation to the newcomers, for they could also be the cause of ruin and diminishment of religious fervor among the people.Lodge a stranger with you, and he will subvert your course, and make a stranger of you to your own household’ (Sir 11:34). The Lord said to Moses, ‘Soon you will be at rest with your fathers, and then this people will take to rendering wanton worship to the strange gods among whom they will live in the land they are about to enter. They will forsake me and break the covenant which I have made with them’ (Dt 31:16).

This was certainly realistic, for the careless openness to foreigners could give rise to untold dangers, ‘since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people’ (cf. Summa Theologica I-II, 105, a.3). Consequently, only some immigrants were admitted with benevolence: specifically, those from nations having affinity with the Hebrews. On the other hand, the nations who had treated the Israelites as enemies were never admitted into their conviviality (cf. Suma Theologica I-II, 105, a.3).

We cannot close ourselves to those in need; we are obliged to extend a charitable hand to them, by our spiritual works of mercy, and, within our particular means, corporal works of mercy as well. But we have to be mindful and careful to avoid straying from our own faith to attend to those who are not in agreement with it. We must not put the light of our holy religion ‘under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house’ (Mt 5:15).

The Christian past of our peoples is a precious gift that we may not allow to fall prey to indifferentism or a false respect for non-Catholics. In this calamitous 21st century, then, the affirmations of the Popes regarding the glorious Christian past of the Western world should be more appreciated than ever, and are certainly worth remembering.



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

I – European civilization and culture has its roots in the Christian faith, differently from all other cultures
II – Catholics have the sacred duty to preserve their culture and their identity
III – Assimilate the culture of the immigrants: to evangelize them or to dilute our beliefs?
IV – The Church is truly a Mother of all peoples; but what does a good mother want for her children?
V – A new cultural synthesis without the Faith at its base puts Christian customs at risk

I – European civilization and culture has its roots in the Christian faith, differently from all other cultures

John Paul II

Culture and European civilization has its roots in the Christian faith
Helping Europe to build herself by revitalizing her original Christian roots: the Church’s urgent responsibility

Benedict XVI

Monasticism involves a culture without which the emergence of Europe would be unthinkable
The Christian image of the human being is the leaven of European civilization also in the future

John Paul II

The history of Poland was in a providential manner rooted in the structure of the Church
John Paul II desired that Poland, and all of Europe, remain faithful to its Christian roots
Despite its present and long-lasting divisions of economic and political systems, Europe cannot cease to seek its fundamental unity, turning to Christianity
The search for a more united Europe is based on the spiritual foundation of the Christian tradition
Christianity has made an important contribution to the formation of the cultural heritage
The Christian roots of Europe are the main guarantee of its future - Christianity cannot be restricted to any particular culture but converses with each one to help them all to express their best qualities
The history of the European nations’ formation runs alongside its evangelization - The European identity is incomprehensible without Christianity. Christianity is the font of Europe’s culture, dynamism, capacity for constructive expansion, in a word, all that constitutes its glory
A cry to Europe: Discover your origins. Relive those authentic values that made your history glorious. Then your future will not be dominated by uncertainty and fear; rather, it will open itself to a new period of life
Without reference to Christendom, the history and destiny of Europe cannot be understood

Pontifical Council for Culture

There is a rupture in the handing on of the faith, intimately linked to the abandonment of a popular culture impregnated by Christianity

John Paul II

In Europe’s complex history, Christianity has been a central and defining element. The Christian faith has shaped the culture of the Continent. The path to the future cannot overlook this fact
The whole of Europe testifies to the relationship between culture and Christianity
The world needs a Europe that once again assumes consciousness of its Christian foundation and is disposed to configure its own present and future upon it
Europe is a land watered by the Christian faith of two thousand years
There is an intimate linking between the Gospel and the achievements of humanity - this link is what creates culture
Iberian Christendom brought to the new peoples in Latin America the gift inherent in Europe’s origin and gestation – the Christian faith
The first evangelization carried out by the European missionaries essentially marked the historic-cultural identity of Latin America
As a consequence, America is a continent where the Church has left deep traces, deep down in the history and character of each people

Pius XII

Christ’s priests were the tireless companions of the colonizers of the New World: missionaries of the Divine Light to the natives, while also laboring for the relief and conversion of the Negroes
Missionary priests facilitated the assimilation of the uncultured invaders whom they introduced both to the Christian religion and to a new culture

Cardinal Dominique Mamberti

Christianity has forged the identity of the continent

II – Catholics have the sacred duty to preserve their culture and their identity

John Paul II

Catholics must remain clear and consistent in their faith, and must serenely affirm their Christian and Catholic identity
The Church and Europe are two realities which are intimately united in their being and in their destiny

Cardinal Angelo Sodano

The Church and Europe are two realities intimately united in their being and destiny - their meeting enriched not only the soul of European civilization but also the whole of humanity

Pontifical Council for Culture

It is not only a question of grafting the faith onto these cultures but of revitalizing a de-Christianized world

John Paul II

Saint Benedict began the gigantic work from which Europe was born
Saints Cyril, Methodius, and Benedict: saints who founded their civilizing work upon the Gospel and the values that flow from it, thus giving Europe a common spiritual and cultural patrimony
The felicitous combination of classical culture and Christian faith with the traditions of various peoples took place in Charlemagne’s empire, marking the spiritual and cultural legacy of Europe
Saints Cyril and Methodius were always recognized by the Slav peoples as the fathers of their Christianity and culture
Culture and faith: far from being incompatible, are related as the fruit is to the tree - The work of Cyril and Methodius made an eminent contribution to forming the common Christian roots of Europe, which even today is a reference-point that cannot be ignored

Benedict XVI

Saint Augustine is known even by those who ignore Christianity for he left a very deep mark on the cultural life of the West

Paul VI

Saint Augustine: all the thought of antiquity converges in his work, irrigating the future centuries

John Paul II

Saint Benedict of Nursia is deeply and organically present in the history of Europe: the Churches and societies of our continent are indebted to him
Europe is the fruit of the action of two currents of Christian tradition
The deep-rooted faith in God has managed to penetrate the idea of life, the criteria for personal and social comportment
The Church is not the remains of an ancient culture, nor something already surpassed
The roots of Latin America are pervaded with the European contribution of the Christian message. Faith is the yeast, the fertile force, for an authentic culture

Pius XII

Institutions, which to this day the pride of civilization are the fruit of Christian charity: hospitals, orphanages, leprosariums, etc.
Religious orders founded specifically to ransom prisoners
Hospices and hospitals are also benefits we received from Christian Civilization

John Paul II

In European history, there are institutions that created culture; these are fruits of Christianity

III – Assimilate the culture of the immigrants: to evangelize them or to dilute our beliefs?

Pontifical Council for Culture

Dialogue with non-believers cannot forget the twofold mandate given to the Church to announce the Gospel to people and to cultures

Paul VI

In dialogue, one must take care not weaken in the faith - The immoderate desire to sink differences at all costs is nothing more than skepticism about the power of the Word of God

Synod of Bishops

Syncretism and religious indifference lead to the loss of the sense of God and of His holiness

Paul VI

The presentation of the Gospel is necessary, unique and cannot be replaced. It does not permit indifference, syncretism or accommodation

John Paul II

Dialogue should be conducted with the conviction that the Church alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation
Full communion will have to come about through the acceptance of the whole truth. Hence all forms of reductionism or facile ‘agreement’ must be absolutely avoided

Benedict XVI

Have vigilance to not substitute the faith with a moralism without deep foundations, that seeks a praxis to better the world

International Theological Commission

However great the respect should be for what is true and holy in the cultural heritage of a people, one should lend an absolute character to it – the Gospel is always above all

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

We cannot let ourselves be led by the ‘dictatorship of relativism’, or let ourselves be carried about by every wind of doctrine

Pontifical Council for Culture

True collaboration with Muslims on the level of culture does not dispense Christians from bearing witness to their Christological and Trinitarian faith

IV – The Church is truly a Mother of all peoples; but what does a good mother want for her children?

Sacred Scripture

Evangelize them at all costs

Pius XII

True Christians should have an ardent desire to see the Church take root and flourish everywhere

John Paul II

Every person has the right to hear the ‘Good News’

Pius IX

Enemies of the Church: Christians and Catholics even within the clergy who constantly have a word of negotiation on their lips

Pius XII

It is not allowed to dissemble one single dogma, even on the plea of promoting unity

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Church’s primary task: to evangelize – ‘the love of Christ impels us’

Paul VI

The Church is linked to evangelization in her most intimate being, born of the evangelizing activity of Jesus and the Twelve
The very nature of the gifts which Christ has given the Church demands that they be extended to others and shared with others

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Today, as always, the Church has the necessity and the sacred duty to preach the Gospel

V – A new cultural synthesis without the Faith at its base puts Christian customs at risk

John Paul II

The presence of non-Christians in traditionally Christian countries is a challenge for the ecclesial communities
Catholics must know that, over and above any gesture of solidarity, is the proclamation of Jesus – this is the first act of charity towards the human person. In countries of ancient Christianity, the non-Christian immigrants represent a challenge
The surge of immigration and the phenomenon of tourism have affected certain European dioceses of deep Christian roots and traditions
The moral and spiritual patrimony of the Church under the risk of secularization

Pontifical Council for Culture

The phenomenon of migration destabilizes teaching of the Faith

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Even when immigrants’ children of another religion are accepted, Catholic schools must not renounce their own characteristics and Christian-oriented education
We Christians are called to bear witness to the Gospel of love and peace in our dealings with migrants and also to proclaim the Word of God explicitly to them
In the case of non-Christian immigrants, the Church is also concerned with their human development, but above all to open their hearts for the explicit proclamation of the Gospel

John Paul II

The migration phenomenon poses questions and challenges to pastoral action: people may be induced to indulge in superficial relativism. The Church tries her best not to let migrants lack the light and the support of the Gospel.

Pius XII

Jesus Mary and Joseph are the models of every migrant and refugee
There never has been a period during which the Church has not been active on behalf of migrants, exiles and refugees

Pius XI

There are pontifical documents that show the concern of the Church for the Catholic migrant’s difficulties throughout history

Benedict XVI

Even before the right to migrate, there is need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate
States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers
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2 thoughts on “129 – “We must create new forms of cultural synthesis. Those who migrate force those who welcome them to change. We must promote the culture of encounter”

  1. I would like to read the view of respective Popes and Catholic institutions on the problem of accepting migrants (including refugees), many of whom have no intention whatsoever to integrate in our more or less Christian societies, as we know from the many muslem migrants entering into Europe, posing a great risk for the future of our Christian or Christianity based cultures, even when trying to bring them Jesus’ message of Love…. My personal view is that in our secularized Western European world, most, or at least many people are against the enormous influx of Muslims, not because of their sorrows as to the loss of Christianity and Christian values, but mainly as to the loss of their acquired materialistic, and hedonistic liberties. But actually, even as faithful Catholics, we may want to keep Moslims away from our societies, just because of the great risk for the future of the Catholic faith in these societies. An example is Hungary….

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