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Holy See/ 2. General objectives and principles of cultural policy  

2.1 Main features of the current cultural policy model

The principles underlying the Church's cultural activities may be summarised as follows:

  • the human person as the heart of culture. Culture is defined in relation to human beings, and all cultural activity is both from and for people. Culture is a springing forth of human potential. Pope Benedict XVI recalled, on the occasion of the colloquium "Culture, Reason and Freedom" (May 2005), with words borrowed from John Paul II's 1980 speech at the headquarters of UNESCO: "in the cultural field, man is always the first fact: man is the prime and fundamental fact of culture";
  • the common basis of all cultures. "Different cultures are but different ways of facing the question of the meaning of personal existence. It is precisely here that we find one source of the respect that is due to every culture and every nation. Every culture is an effort to ponder the mystery of the world and in particular of the human person. It is a way of giving expression to the transcendent dimension of human life. The heart of every culture is its approach to the greatest of all mysteries, the mystery of God" (John Paul II, Address to the United Nations, 5 October 1995);
  • openness to transcendence. "When they are deeply rooted in experience, cultures show forth the human being's characteristic openness to the universal and the transcendent. Therefore they offer different paths to the truth, which assuredly serve men and women well in revealing values that can make their lives ever more human" (John Paul II, Fides et ratio, 70);
  • cultural change. "Inseparable as they are from people and their history, cultures share the dynamics which the human experience of life reveals. They change and advance because people meet in new ways and share with each other their ways of life. Cultures are fed by the communication of values, and they survive and flourish insofar as they remain open to assimilating new experiences" (John Paul II, Fides et ratio, 71);
  • the Gospel and culture. "The Gospel, and therefore evangelisation, are certainly not identical to culture, and they are independent in regard to all cultures ... Though independent of cultures, the Gospel and evangelisation are not incompatible with them; rather they are capable of permeating them all without becoming subject to any one of them" (Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi, 20); 
  • promoting the study of philosophy. "Sharing this concern and encouraging fruitful collaboration among the professors of various Roman and European athenaeums, I wish to address a particular invitation to philosophy professors to continue with confidence in philosophical research, investing intellectual energy and involving new generations in this task" (Benedict XVI to participants at the Sixth European Symposium for University Professors, 7 June 2008); and
  • faith, culture and the Orient. "This method of combining all the arts, the intellect, the heart and the senses, which came from the East, was to experience a great development in the West, reaching unparalleled heights in the miniature codices of the Bible and in other works of faith and art that flourished in Europe until the invention of printing and beyond (...). The need to involve, in the experience of faith, not only the mind and the heart, but also the senses through those other aspects of aesthetic taste and human sensitivity that lead man to benefit from the truth with his whole self, mind, soul and body". This is important: faith is not only thought but also touches the whole of our being. Since God became Man in flesh and blood, since he entered the tangible world, we must seek and encounter God in all the dimensions of our being. (Benedict XVI, General Audience, 3 June 2009).

Chapter published: 02-12-2009

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