Saint John Paul certainly had a high regard for culture. Count that as due to his experience in the performing arts, or his stature as a philosopher, or his connections with young people during his career as a priest.
477. The V Conference in Aparecida views positively and with true empathy the different forms of culture present in our continent. Faith is only adequately professed, understood, and lived when it makes its way deeply into the cultural substrate of a people. (Cf. John Paul II, Speech to participants at the World Congress of the General Movement of Cultural Action, January 16, 1982)
Would you agree with this theme of his speech? It seems to lie beyond the application of the human intellect and will alone as a response to God’s grace.
Thus the full importance of culture for evangelization becomes plain. For the salvation brought by Jesus Christ must be light and strength for all the yearnings, joyful or painful situations, and questions present in the respective cultures of peoples. The encounter of faith with cultures puriﬁes them, enables them to develop their potentialities, and enriches them. For they all ultimately seek the truth, which is Christ (John 14:6).
It is likely that the point of disagreement between Catholics might be the forms of cultural expression that are able to be “purified” or “enriched.” Further difficulty is when people outside of the cultures of the Americas south of the US attempt to make judgments. Are such persons qualified, having no direct experience of Latin American or Caribbean culture? And if such persons have no roots, do they have a serious stake in the discussion?
Pope Benedict supports this nod to culture:
478. With the Holy Father, we give thanks that the Church “helping Christian believers to live their faith with joy and coherence,” through the history of this continent, has created and fostered culture: “Faith in God has animated the life and culture of these nations for more than ﬁve centuries.” This reality has been expressed in art, music, literature, and above all, in the religious traditions and in the peoples’ whole way of being, united as they are by a shared history and a shared creed that give rise to a great underlying harmony, despite the diversity of cultures and languages. (Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 1.)
It’s an eminently pragmatic approach. Has culture helped? Can fruits be discerned? The Church itself has encouraged and nourished expressions of culture, not just in the realm of liturgy, sacred art, or the architecture of churches. It goes beyond that.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.