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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2010 (VIS) - This morning, having celebrated Mass in private, Benedict XVI travelled to the Belem cultural centre to meet with representatives from the world of culture. On arrival he was greeted by Bishop Manuel Clemente of Porto, president of the episcopal commission for culture, and by the film director Manoel do Oliveira, who addressed some words of welcome to the Pope.

  In his own address the Holy Father affirmed how "culture today reveals a 'tension' which sometimes takes the form of a 'conflict' between the present and tradition". However, he went on, "emphasis on the 'present' as a source of inspiration for the meaning of life, both individual and social, clashes with the powerful cultural tradition of the Portuguese people, deeply marked by the millenary influence of Christianity and by a sense of global responsibility. This came to the fore in the adventure of the discoveries and in the missionary zeal which shared the gift of faith with other peoples".

  "This 'conflict' between tradition and the present finds expression in the crisis of truth,", the Pope affirmed. "A people no longer conscious of its own truth ends up by being lost in the maze of time and history, deprived of clearly-defined values and lacking great and clearly-formulated goals". And he went on: "Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognises it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce

  "For a society made up mainly of Catholics, and whose culture has been profoundly marked by Christianity, the search for truth apart from Christ proves dramatic", he added. "For Christians, Truth is divine; it is the eternal 'Logos' which found human expression in Jesus Christ. ... The Church, in her adherence to the eternal character of truth, is in the process of learning how to live with respect for other 'truths' and for the truth of others. Through this respect, open to dialogue, new doors can be opened to the transmission of truth".

  "The Church must enter into dialogue with the world in which she lives", said Pope Benedict quoting Pope Paul VI. "Dialogue, without ambiguity and marked by respect for those taking part, is a priority in today's world, and the Church does not intend to withdraw from it. ... Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful".

  "Point out new worlds to the world", said the Holy Father quoting the poet Luis de Camoes, author of 'Os Lusiades'. You who are "forgers of thought and opinion", he told his audience, "have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, ... to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Do not be afraid ... to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty!".

  He continued his address: "Precisely so as 'to place the modern world in contact with the life-giving and perennial energies of the Gospel', Vatican Council II was convened. There the Church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. ... The Council laid the foundation for an authentic Catholic renewal and for a new civilisation - 'the civilisation of love' - as an evangelical service to man and society".

  "The Church", Benedict XVI concluded, "considers that her most important mission in today's culture is to keep alive the search for truth, and consequently for God; to bring people to look beyond penultimate realities and to seek those that are ultimate".

  Following his meeting with representatives from the world of culture, the Holy Father went to the apostolic nunciature in Lisbon where he met Jose Socrates, prime minister of Portugal.
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