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Inde a Pontificatus - Dialogue with non-believers
By Pope John Paul II

Since the beginning of my Pontificate, accepting the wealth of stimulating ideas offered by the Second Vatican Council, I have wanted to develop the church's dialogue with the contemporary world. In particular, I have sought to foster the encounter with non-believers in the privileged area of culture, a fundamental dimension of the spirit, which places people in a relationship with one another and unites them in what is most truly theirs, namely, their common humanity.

To this end, convinced that the synthesis between culture and faith is not just a demand of culture, but also of faith, in 1982 I created the Pontifical Council for Culture with the intention of strengthening the Church's pastoral presence in this specific, vital area, in which the world's destiny is at stake at the approach of the third millennium; at the same time, I wanted to promote dialogue with non-Christian religions and with individuals and groups not claiming any religion, in the common search for a cultural communication with all people of good will (Letter to Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, Secretary of State, 20 May 1982; Insegnamenti, vol. V/2, 1982, pp. 1777 ff.).

In recent years a deeper awareness has been gained concerning the close relationship between the work of the Pontifical Council and the activity performed by the Pontifical Commission for Preserving the Church's Patrimony of Art and History, which I established on 28 June 1988; although the latter has had but a brief period of activity, it has demonstrated its necessity. Indeed, by its very nature faith tends to express itself in artistic forms and historical testimony having an intrinsic evangelizing power and cultural value, to which the Church is called to pay the greatest attention.

It has also been deemed opportune to improve the Holy See's outstanding presence in the area of culture by renewing and linking the Pontifical Academies.

After carefully considering these matters, I have decided to derogate from the provisions of the Constitution Pastor Bonus and to unite the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers, joining them in a single entity that will be called the Pontifical Council for Culture, and with which the Pontifical Commission for Preserving the Church's Patrimony of Art and History will maintain periodic contacts.

The new entity will be governed by the following norms:

Art. 1

The Council promotes the meeting between the saving message of the Gospel and the cultures of our time, often marked by disbelief or religious indifference, in order that they may be increasingly open to the Christian faith, which creates culture and is an inspirational source of science, literature and the arts.

Art. 2

The Council expresses the Church's pastoral concern in the face of the serious phenomena of the rift between the Gospel and cultures. It. therefore promotes the study of the problem of unbelief and religious indifference found in various forms indifferent cultural milieus, inquiring into the causes and the consequences for Christian faith, in order to offer adequate support to the Church's pastoral activity in evangelizing cultures and inculturating the Gospel.

Art. 3

In order to foster the Church's and the Holy See's relations with the world of culture, the Council undertakes appropriate initiatives concerning the dialogue between faith and cultures, and intercultural dialogue. It oversees the initiatives begun by the Church's various institutions and offers its cooperation to the corresponding organs of the Episcopal Conferences.

Art. 4

The council also establishes dialogue with those who do not believe in God or who profess no religion, provided these are open to sincere cooperation. It organizes and participates in study congresses in this field by means of experts.

I. The Pontifical Council for Culture will have two sections:

1. Faith and Culture
2. Dialogue with Cultures

The section for Faith and Culture will continue the activity which the Pontifical Council for Culture has performed until now.

The section for Dialogue with Cultures will continue the activity heretofore performed by the Pontifical Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers.

The new institution will be presided over by a Cardinal President who will be assisted by a Secretary and an Undersecretary. In case of necessity, two Undersecretaries are to be appointed, one for each section.

II. Except in what concerns the special Statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences to be established, the Pontifical Council for Culture oversees and coordinates the activities of the Pontifical Academies.

III. The Pontifical Commission for Preserving the Church's Patrimony of Art and History shall henceforth be called the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church. Retaining its own area of competence established by articles 100-103 of my Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, it will no longer constitute part of the Congregation for the Clergy, but will be autonomous, having its own President, who will be a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture, with which it will maintain periodic contacts in order to assure a harmony of purpose and a fruitful mutual cooperation. Furthermore, it will consult with the Pontifical Council for Culture in regard to the Academies whose activities concern the Church's cultural possessions.

I hereby ordain that everything established with the present Motu Proprio shall have full and lasting value, anything to the contrary notwithstanding, even though it may be deserving of special mention.

Given at Rome, at St Peter's Basilica, 25 March 1993, the fifteenth year of my Pontificate.

IOANNES PAULUS PP. II

 

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