Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, delivered the keynote address at a Nov. 21-23 conference of directors of Church-run cultural centers in India. These centers promote various aspects of local culture such as art, music and dance. The meeting was held at Pilar Theological College in Goa.
The cardinal told 40 cultural center directors at the meeting that their centers "have the ability to touch the very core of the human person, to dialogue with those belonging to various cultures and religions so that we may be able to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and may find new ways to witness to this faith."
According to a report by UCA News, he emphasized that “way of life” is the best example of preaching Christian faith and morals. "If we are to teach others to observe the commandments which [Jesus] has taught us, then it is imperative that we teach by the example of our lives."
If life example becomes the method of teaching, "no one can again say," as Mahatma Gandhi did, that "Christians are a hindrance to the spread of the faith in Christ," he reportedly said.
According to Cardinal Poupard, the mission of Christ fundamentally involves evangelization of cultures. For this, one must first be conscious of the fact that culture is a human reality to be evangelized, he stated. Evangelization must be understood in its total individual and social meaning, he added.
The cardinal cautioned, however, about a tendency toward relativism that sees Catholicism as one among several faiths that lead people to God. In the "inseparable pair" of inculturation of faith and evangelization of culture, "there can be no hint of syncretism or relativism," he asserted.
Nonetheless, dialogue should be held with proponents of culture and followers of other religions on existential questions, such as the meaning of life and death, inner human freedom, human problems that have religious dimensions and even faith itself, he said.
Dialogue also should focus on serious problems of social life such as poverty, human rights, peace, cultural pluralism and ethics in the economic and political spheres, as well as seek sense and beauty in everyday life, the cardinal said.
.- A top Vatican official has told Catholic cultural workers in India that the life example of people involved in interreligious activities can promote evangelization of culture and inculturation of faith, reported UCA News.