Dialogue with culture requires reaffirmation of Catholic identity

In an interview with CNA during his recent his visit to Brazil, Cardinal Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said dialogue with the culture requires first a reaffirmation of one’s own Catholic identity.

The French Cardinal, who is presiding over a series of gatherings at Catholic cultural centers in several Brazilian cities, told CNA that “to dialogue with another means one has to be oneself.”  Dialogue is an exchange between two persons; each one has his convictions, and dialogue allows each to understand the convictions of the other, and this is true in all areas of culture.”

“The fundamental reference for our Catholic identity is Jesus Christ who, as Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes states, is the archetype of man,” he added.

“This is the basis upon which we dialogue: that Jesus Christ is the one in whom the fullness of man’s vocation is realized.  And, we are members of the Catholic Church, and wherever we are we are always linked to a bishop, who is linked to the Pope, the Successor of Peter.”

Cardinal Poupard underscored the importance of Catholic unity in Latin America, which goes “beyond the economic, ethnic, political and other types of differences.”  He pointed out as well that “in facing the problem of globalization we Catholics have an enormous treasure, precisely because we are Catholics; and Catholic means universal, that is, we have 2000 years of experience in globalization.”

As an example, the Cardinal said, “Somebody like me who lives in Rome and works with the Pope as the ‘Minister of Culture,’ lives out this worldwide reality everyday:  The Pope who presides over us is Polish, our brother who is responsible for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, is German; those in charge of the Clergy and the Family are Latin Americans; the one in charge of Divine Worship is African; the one in charge of Education is Polish; and of course, in my dicastery—the Pontifical Council for Culture—my assistant is Mexican, and I have assistants from Brazil, Italy, Romania and Hungary.”

Cardinal Poupard recalled that “the Pope continuously invites us, each day, to evangelize the culture.”  “The Gospel is good news, not only for persons but for the culture as well,” he added.  “But in order for this news to be well-received it must be received in the language of the culture to which it is directed.  And this is the logic of the incarnation.  From the beginning all of this has taken place in the life of the Church and of the Christian, who is always an imitator of Christ,” he concluded.

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