Via Pulchritudinis: A Crucial Challenge, part 1

Four paragraphs are under the heading of “A CRUCIAL CHALLENGE.” The first introduces the challenge:

The Plenary Assemblies of 2002, “Handing on the Faith at the Heart of Cultures, novo millennio ineunte,” [Cf. Faith and Cultures and 2004, “The Christian Faith at the Dawn of the New Millennium and the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference,” Cf. P. POUPARD – Pontifical Council for Culture, Where Is Your God? Responding to the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference Today – no. 26, 2003-2004] underlined the need for a new apostolic thrust by the Church to evangelize cultures with an effective inculturation of the Gospel.

What interests the Pontifical Council for Culture is a fruitful effort. Not just words going out to those beyond the flock. It is good that a group not primarily an evangelization council interested in the effort. Many hands working: a welcome development.

Here is the first comment:

1) The culture emerging from a materialist and atheistic worldview, characteristic of secularized societies, causes disaffection from religion, sometimes opposition to it, particularly Christianity, with a new anti-Catholicism. [Cf. R. RÉMOND, Le Christianisme en accusation, Paris 2000; Ibid, Le nouvel antichristianisme,2005]

This is possible, certainly. But not necessarily a universal experience. Sometimes the emptiness of the secular world inspires those who are seeking God. It’s not automatically a bad thing. Just a challenge.

Even those who would identify as Christian have a deeply imperfect manifestation of faith. Does this description seem familiar?

Many live as though God did not exist (etsi Deus non daretur), as though His presence and His Word had no influence on the life of people and societies. They struggle to affirm clearly their religious belonging, and their spirituality remains in the strict domain of their private lives. Religious experience is often disassociated from a clear belonging to an ecclesial institution: some believe without belonging, others belong without offering visible signs of their believing.

Very accurate. These days we have an epidemic of believers who don’t belong. In many cases they drift further away without the anchor of a faith community. Sometimes the personal commitments remain, just outside of institutional awareness or approval. And often enough, the moral center remains in many people–we have no problem finding that in people outside of Christianity.

I do think many Christians struggle to express their faith. And let’s be realistic: faith is not science. We can’t boil it down to bits of information and facts. Faith doesn’t always fit into the natural universe. We do need some aspects of culture associated with beauty and the arts to express the inexpressible.

The full document is here.

Image: the rose window at Notre Dame in Paris, By Zachi Evenor based on File:North rose window of Notre-Dame de Paris, Aug 2010.jpg by Julie Anne Workman – CC BY-SA 2.0,

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Art, evangelization, Via Pulchritudinis. Bookmark the permalink.

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