Faith Must Be Courageous in Challenging Culture, Says Cardinal Ratzinger

Prefect Views Evangelization in the Communications Age

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Catholic faith is open to all that is "great, true and pure in the culture," but that openness should not be interpreted as naiveté, says Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.



The "Gospel will always cause a cut that purifies and heals culture," said the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He made his observation Saturday at the conclusion of a congress on culture in the communications age. The congress, held in Paul VI Hall, was organized by the Italian bishops' conference.

In his address, entitled "Communication and Culture: New Ways for Evangelization in the Third Millennium," Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized that evangelization is not mere assimilation to the prevailing culture.

"Faith has always been critical of culture, and today it must be more intrepid and courageous," he said. "Faith is a 'cut,' an opposition to every element of culture that closes the doors to the Gospel."

Cardinal Ratzinger urged the agents of culture and communications in the audience, before John Paul II addressed them, to have "a critical and courageous faith" and expressed opposition to the "easy irenic options and cultural degenerations of the present."

Reviewing the history of the Gospel's inculturation, Cardinal Ratzinger said that Christianity has always "been threatened by anti-Christian elements," and today we are before a culture "that increasingly distances itself from Christianity."

Proofs of this are "the threats to life, attacks on the family based on marriage, the relegation of faith to the subjective realm, the secularization of public conscience, and the fragmentation and relativizing of ethics," the cardinal lamented.

In this context, "evangelization never is simply an intellectual communication," he said. "It is a vital process, a purification and transformation of our existence, and for this a common way is necessary."

In the face of a culture that considers the journey of faith impossible, Cardinal Ratzinger articulated the key challenge: the "evangelization of culture."