Pope: the Church proposes Christian humanism to overcome the fluidity of society

Pope Francis sends a video message to the plenary assembly participants of the Pontifical Council for Culture and calls for a renewed Christian humanism to help stem the fluidity of Western society.

By Devin Watkins

As the Pontifical Council for Culture opens its plenary assembly, Pope Francis sent a video message to participants on Tuesday, reflecting on the theme: “Necessary Humanism”.

The Pope began by noting how the assembly unfolds in a virtual format, lamenting that the digital universe makes everything “incredibly close but without the warmth of presence”.

He said the pandemic had exposed weaknesses in our social and economic model, including working methods, social life and religious practices.

At the same time, the pandemic has rekindled people’s desire to confront fundamental questions of existence, such as the question of God and the human being.

New humanist perspective

The Pope said that the theme chosen by the Council, humanism, therefore comes at a crucial time.

“At this point in history,” he noted, “we need not only new economic programs or new formulas against the virus, but above all a new humanistic perspective, based on Biblical Revelation, enriched by the heritage of the classical tradition, as well as by the reflections on the human person present in different cultures.

Age of liquidity

Pope Francis then recalled that Saint Paul VI, in 1965, said that the Church should respond to the threat of secular humanism by proposing the model of the Good Shepherd, who has “immense sympathy for the human being” , rather than simply condemning humanity and its desire to play God.

The Pope added that our own time is marked by the “end of ideologies” and by the “fluidity of contemporary cultural vision”. Another way to describe it, he said, is “the age of liquidity or gasity.”

Yet, Pope Francis continued, the Church still has much to offer the world.

“It obliges us to recognize and evaluate, with confidence and courage, the intellectual, spiritual and material achievements which have emerged since then. [the Second Vatican Council] in various fields of human knowledge, ”he said.

Search for meaning

Pope Francis continued by noting that a structural revolution is underway in human society, a revolution which invites us to remember that the human person is a “servant of life and not its master”.

The decision of the Pontifical Council for Culture to focus its plenary assembly on humanism therefore aims to probe the questions of human existence and identity.

“What does it mean today to be a man and a woman as complementary people called to relate to each other? What do the words “paternity” and “maternity” mean? And then again, what is the specific condition of the human being, which makes him unique and irreplaceable compared to machines and even to other animal species? What is his transcendent vocation? Where does his call to build social relationships with others come from?

Culturally informed Christian humanism

The Pope then recalled that the Church can draw on the richness of the biblical tradition to guide humanity’s search for meaning.

“Sacred Scripture offers us the essential coordinates for sketching out an anthropology of the human being in relation to God, in the complexity of relations between man and woman, and in connection with the time and space in which we live. », He mentioned.

Biblical humanism, he added, combined with the classical humanism of Greek and Latin thought, can become even more fruitful when informed by the values ​​that various modern cultures can offer.

He gave the examples of the “holistic vision of Asian cultures”, of “the solidarity of African cultures” and of “the anthropology of the Latin American peoples”. These various cultural aspects can help to “overcome the excessive individualism typical of Western culture”.

“In these different cultures,” said the Pope, “there are forms of a humanism which, integrated with European humanism inherited from Greco-Roman civilization and transformed by the Christian vision, is today the best means of address the disturbing questions of the future of humanity.

The challenges of humanity

Pope Francis concluded his video message to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture with an invitation to rediscover the value of the human being in the face of the challenges we face.

“Today,” he said, “we must repeat these pagan verses: ‘Sunt lacrimae rerum and tangent mentem mortalia‘”(Basically:“ There are tears for things, and mortal things move the mind ”of Virgil’s Aeneid.)

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