Church Must Remember Its Values, Says Pope

Addresses Culture Council on Counteracting Secularism

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- It's urgent that the Church remember the "exalted values" that give meaning to life in the face of advanced secularization, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience members of Pontifical Council for Culture at the conclusion of its plenary session on "The Church and The Challenge of Secularization." The three-day meeting ended Saturday.

"Today more than ever," the Holy Father told the participants, "reciprocal openness between cultures is an important field for dialogue between men and women committed to seeking authentic humanism, over and above the differences that separate them."

Secularization, he said, "invades all aspects of daily life and causes the development of a mentality in which God is effectively absent, entirely or in part, from human life and conscience."

This "is not just an external threat to believers," added the Pontiff, "but has for some time been evident in the bosom of the Church herself."

Benedict XVI said believers are being conditioned by a "culture of images that imposes contradictory models and impulses, with the effective negation of God."

Hence people come to believe "there is no longer any need for God, to think of him or to return to him," said the Pope. "Furthermore, the predominant hedonistic and consumer mentality favors, in the faithful as in pastors, a drift toward superficiality and selfishness, which damages ecclesial life."

Action

The Holy Father warned of "the risk of falling into spiritual atrophy and emptiness of heart," and highlighted the need to react to such a situation by remembering "the exalted values of existence which give meaning to life and can satisfy the disquiet of the human heart in its search for happiness."

He said these include "the dignity and freedom of the person, the equality of all mankind, and the sense of life and death and of what awaits us at the end of earthly existence."

"The phrase 'etsi Deus non daretur' [as if there were no God] is becoming a way of life which has its roots in a kind of 'arrogance' of reason," said Benedict XVI.

Reason, he continued, "was actually created and loved by God," but is now "held to be sufficient unto itself and closes itself off from contemplating and seeking a truth that lies beyond it."

The Pope urged the Pontifical Council for Culture to remain committed to "fruitful dialogue between science and faith," respecting the ambit and methodology of each of them, in order "to serve man and humanity, favoring the integral development and growth of each and of all."

"Above all," added the Holy Father, "I exhort pastors of the flock of God to a tireless and generous mission to counteract -- in the field of dialogue and meeting between cultures, of announcement and testimony of the Gospel -- the worrying phenomenon of secularization which weakens man and hinders his innate longing for the entire truth."