Aparecida 480: Troubling Cultural Trends

Believers are rightly concerned about shifts in culture:

480. Many Catholics are disconcerted in the face of this cultural change. It is up to the Church to clearly denounce these “anthropological models incompatible with the nature and dignity of the human person.”(Benedict XVI, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, January 8, 2007. )

Human dignity is partly a function of being created in God’s image. The Aparecida bishops mention a vocation, a baptismal vocation that ties us in with the humanity of the Son. I’ve long thought the nature of baptism as a vocation sacrament is overlooked in sacramental theology, focusing as we do on orders and matrimony.

The human person must be presented as the center of all social and cultural life, highlighting in it the dignity of being image and likeness of God and the vocation to be children in the Son, called to share his life for all eternity.

An evangelical theme to preach:

Christian faith shows us Jesus Christ as the ultimate truth of the human being,(Gaudium et Spes 22) the model in which being human is displayed in all its ontological and existential magnificence. Proclaiming it fully in our days requires courage and prophetic spirit.

The culture of life linked:

Counteracting the culture of death with the Christian culture of solidarity is an imperative for all of us, and has been a constant objective of the Church’s social teaching.

On modern culture:

Nevertheless, the proclamation of the gospel cannot ignore contemporary culture, which must be known, evaluated, and in a certain sense assumed by the Church, with a language understood by our contemporaries. Only thus will Christian faith be able to appear as something relevant and meaningful for salvation. But this same faith must engender alternative cultural models for contemporary society. With the talents that they have received, Christians must be creative in their fields of activity: the world of culture, politics, public opinion, art, and science.

At the very least, we must apprise ourselves of those who oppose Christ and the Church. Knowledge is not dangerous, but ignorance can certainly lead to errors in judgment one way or the other. The importance of relevance is not to blend in, but to be able to speak the language of modern culture, and to tilt problematic expressions toward something that aligns with vital Christian values: freedom, self-determination, advocacy for the poor and needy, watchfulness over the marginalized.

If recent events are any measure of our situation, we must also be vigilant on matters that self-styled Christians have adopted that are in alignment with the world, but do not reflect the essence of Christ’s preaching and mission.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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