Recalling the founding of the Pontifical Council for Culture by the Servant of God John Paul II, the Pope received participants of the congress gathered to celebrate its 25th anniversary today. In his address to the congress, he stressed the importance of culture for helping man encounter the love of God in his life and the lives of those around him.
The Holy Father recalled how Servant of God John Paul II created the council on May 20, 1982 with the aim "of giving renewed impulse to the Church's commitment to ensure the Gospel encounters the plurality of cultures in the various parts of the world."
Benedict pointed out that Christian culture is always at the service of the good of people. "In its dealings with the world of culture, the Church always places man at the center, both as the instigator of cultural activity and as its ultimate recipient."
Benedict XVI then recalled that to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the pontifical council has organized this congress "to meditate upon the relationship between evangelization and culture," and "to consider how that relationship presents itself today in Asia, America and Africa."
He noted that evangelization can find expression in the meeting of culture and faith. "The history of the Church is - also and inseparably - the history of culture and art," said the Pope. "Works such as St. Thomas Aquinas' 'Summa theologiae,' the Divine Comedy, Chartres Cathedral, the Sistine Chapel and the Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach are syntheses…between Christian faith and human expression.
However, the fusion of faith and culture is not always so extraordinarily expressed. There is also a more hidden, and in some ways more beautiful demonstration of the melding of faith and culture. “These qualities also come together every day in the life and work of all the baptized, in that hidden work of art which is the story of love of each of us with the living God and with our fellow man, in the joy and fatigue of following Jesus Christ in our daily lives.”
Referring to our present society the Pope said that a, “reciprocal openness between cultures” is the way that human society will advance. The Church’s greatest gift that humanity ignores at its own peril is, “the most powerful force for renewal and elevation: the Love of God that becomes human love."