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Thursday, July 24, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 24 JUL 2008 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has written a Message to African bishops with responsibility for the pastoral care of culture, who are currently participating in a conference at Bagamoyo, Tanzania. The conference, organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture, has as its theme: "Pastoral Prospects for the New Evangelisation in the Context of Globalisation and its Effects on African Cultures".

  In his Message, which was read out yesterday at the beginning of the conference, the Pope recalls how evangelising culture and inculturating the Gospel "is an old yet ever new mission", and he calls on the prelates to find "new and effective ways to present the immutable truth of the Gospel and, especially, the values of the joy of life and of respect for the unborn child, the important role of the family, and a profound sense of communion and solidarity which are present in African cultures".

  The meeting, which is scheduled to last four days, began yesterday with a Mass presided by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. After the Pope's Message, a speech entitled "Cultural Challenges of Secularism, Propagated through Globalisation" - due to have been delivered by Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who was unable to be present - was read our by Fr, Bernard Ardura, secretary of the pontifical council. Among the challenges Archbishop Ravasi mentions are "oblivion to the common good, social behaviour guided by the logic of the market, the destruction of models of life transmitted by family, school and parish, and the exaltation of individualism".

  The poorest countries, observes the president of the pontifical council, are those most exposed to the dangers of a poorly-understood globalisation which leads to "the destruction of the values handed down by ancestral cultural traditions, the undermining of consciences, and the cultural uprooting of entire generations which are drawn into a spiral that leads to poverty and misery".

  Yet, the archbishop continues, in a context of globalised secularisation the Church has the chance to make "Christian humanism" flower, "re-proposing the great moral values" and proclaiming "the Word of God, which is capable of making deserts of indifference and superficiality bear fruit".

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