The "Vademecum of Catholic Cultural Centers," edited by the Pontifical Council for Culture, was presented today at the Vatican press office by the council's president, Cardinal Paul Poupard.
The document, published in Italian but eventually to be translated into several languages, answers fundamental questions on the centers, including their nature, role and location.
The centers include cultural associations, museums, cultural committees, history and art institutes, biblical groups, and foundations, among other entities.
Cardinal Poupard said that behind the name "Catholic Cultural Center," there are "extremely diversified realities, characterized by many activities and interests."
Their essential goal is "to put the Christian faith in touch with culture and the cultures of our time, and with all related phenomena," he said. "Therefore, the relationship between faith and culture is the essential area in which all the Catholic Cultural Centers operate."
The Vademecum arose as a result of international meetings of Catholic Cultural Centers, organized since 1993. The meetings revealed the need "to create an instrument of communication to form a real network of these realities."
After describing the features of these centers, the Vademecum offers "an international directory of all the Catholic Cultural Centers," which in the future can be consulted on the Web page of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
To the question "What is it?" the Vademecum answers: "A Catholic Cultural Center is the operative expression of a group of Christians animated by the conviction that the evangelical proclamation can be translated in a cultural contribution."
Asked "Why?" these centers exist, the Vademecum explains that "a profound and courageous discernment is necessary and urgent, on the part of the Christian community, of the many and new phenomena that affect the culture and life of humanity."
"A critical formation of consciences is necessary and urgent to evaluate adequately, in the light of evangelical values, the problems that are arising," the document states.
Cardinal Poupard told journalists that in "order to bridge the gap between faith and culture, between the Gospel and daily experience, between the proclamation of Christ and the indifference and atheism of so many men and women of our time, the Church has made great steps, especially after Vatican Council II and the appeal of Paul VI who, in 'Evangelii Nuntiandi,' defined the fracture as the real drama of our age."
In addition to the addresses of the magisterium and pastors, "local action from the ground level is necessary, action which takes place locally, which values cultural traditions of every reality, which responds to the needs of the specific population," the cardinal concluded.