God 'determined to call together in the holy Church those who believe in Christ'

Lumen Gentium

The New Evangelisation

New evangelisation and contemporary culture

The intervention of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture during the Synod Of Bishops on New Evangelisation.

In contemporary culture there are many crossroads that evangelization cannot avoid:

There is, first of all, that of language.

Without abandoning the complexity of religious discourse, it is necessary to know how to adopt also the new canons of telematic and digital communication, with their incisiveness and simplicity, and their use of the television narrative to present images.

There is then the horizon of secularisation.

This does not manage, though, to eliminate the religious question and the strength of natural ethics. In this domain, there is the successful work of the “Court of Gentiles”, encouraged by Benedict XVI with his evocation of the God unknown to, though perhaps sought by, many nonbelievers.

There is a third area of evangelization that has been decisive for centuries, that of art. This nowadays demands to be re-woven according to the new grammar and style of contemporary artistic expression, without any loss of its link to the sacredness of Christian belief.

Then there is the crossroads of youth cultures, with their socialising experiences.

These are often not without risk, but are also gifted with a fruitfulness of their own: one need only think of sporting events and practice, and the constant appeal of music.

There is, finally, the world of science and technology.

This now penetrates every ethnic and cultural group. I would like to give specific consideration to it. Faith should not be afraid to penetrate this world. After all, it has the same outlook as Christ himself, who contemplated both the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and referred even to predictions about the weather to announce the Kingdom (Mt 16: 2-3, Lk 11:54-55). He did this following the example of the Old Testament which perceived throughout creation a transcendent voice, as suggested in Psalm 19. Nowadays, we too look with amazement at the story of global evolution, from the primordial cosmic beginnings to the spiral of DNA, from Higgs-Boson to the multiverse.

The incompatibility between science and faith and the prevarications of one against the other – as has occurred in the past and continues to occur today – should be replaced by the mutual recognition of the dignity of their respective epistemological statuses:

Science is dedicated to the “scene”, that is the phenomenon, the thing seen; Theology and Philosophy look to the “foundation” of what is seen.

This is a real distinction, but it does not denote a separateness of the two disciplines to the point of their reciprocal exclusion, since both science and theology have a single common object: that is, being and existence itself. It is, therefore, understandable that overlaps and tensions occur, especially in the field of bioethics.

Dialogue is therefore indispensable, and should be undertaken without arrogance and without confusion between each discipline’s specific levels and approaches.

As John Paul II indicated in 1988:

“It is absolutely important that each discipline continues to enrich, nurture and provoke the other to be more fully what it should be, and to contribute to our vision of what we are and where we are going”.

The great scientist Max Planck, father of quantum theory, also confirmed this: “Every serious and reflective person realizes… there can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other”.