Study of History Fells Barriers Between Peoples, Says Pope

Letter to Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II says that the study of the history of civilizations fosters peace and fraternity between peoples.



The Pope expressed this in the letter sent to Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, on the 50th anniversary of this Vatican institution.

"The Church of Christ has a responsibility before man which in a certain sense encompasses the whole dimension of his existence," the Pontiff says in the letter published by the Vatican press office.

This is the reason why the Church has "always been committed to the development of human culture, favoring the quest for the true, the good and the beautiful so that man can respond ever better to the creative idea of God," he adds.

"There is nothing more inconsistent than men or groups without history. Ignorance of one's past leads fatally to crisis and the loss of identity of individuals and of communities," the Holy Father states.

John Paul II maintains that "historical research, free from prejudices and linked only to scientific documentation," has "an irreplaceable role to bring down barriers between peoples."

"Frequently, in fact, heavy walls have been raised through the centuries because of the partiality of historiography and of reciprocal resentment," he notes in the letter published Saturday. "The consequence has been that misunderstandings still persist today, which become an obstacle for peace and fraternity between men and nations."

"The overcoming of the boundaries of national historiography by a larger view of the geographical and cultural context could be of great help, as it would ensure a comparative view of events, allowing for a more balanced judgment," he concludes.

Pius XII established the pontifical committee on April 7, 1954, to promote the development of the historical sciences through international cooperation.