Jesuit magazine can help heal rift between Gospel, culture, pope says

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VATICAN, June 14, 2013 (CNS) — Pope Francis said his fellow Jesuits can help heal the rift between the Gospel and today’s cultures.

“This ministry is typical of the mission of the Society of Jesus,” he said, urging the editors and staff of a Jesuit journal to continue offering the world “your reflections and your in-depth analyses” of cultural and social trends and transformations, including hot button topics.

The pope met June 14 with the editors and staff of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit-run magazine founded by Pope Pius IX in 1850. The Rome-based biweekly journal continues to be reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State before publication.

Pope Pius entrusted the magazine to the Jesuits whose charism, Pope Francis said, includes looking for God in all things.

“One treasure of the Jesuits is spiritual discernment, that seeks to recognize the presence of God’s spirit in human and cultural experiences,” said the Jesuit pope.

But he also told the staff that “fidelity to the church demands still being firm against the hypocrisies (that are) fruit of a closed, sick heart.”

The mission of La Civilta Cattolica, he said, is to be a voice in the wider cultural debates of the day and “to propose, in a way that is serious and accessible, a vision that’s based on the Christian faith.”

“The split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time,” he said, citing Pope Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi.”

“You are called to make your contribution to heal this rift, which even passes through each of your hearts and those of your readers,” he said.

In a world marked by so many changes and “shaken by questions of great importance” for the faith, a courageous commitment is urgently needed to transmit “a faith that is persuasive and mature, capable of giving meaning to life and offering convincing answers to those seeking God.”

The magazine’s main task is to build bridges, not walls, and engage in dialogue with all people, even those who are not Christian but share the same values, as well as those who are antagonistic to or persecute the church, he said.

There are many existential, human questions that need discussion and “it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another,” he said.

Dialogue calls for letting down one’s guard, opening up to others, believing others have something good to contribute and giving room to others’ opinions and points of view, “obviously without falling into relativism.”

By engaging all facets of society — social, political and cultural — in dialogue, the Jesuit publication can help educate citizens who are working for the common good. After all, he said, the Catholic civilization (the meaning of the publication’s Italian name), “is a civilization of love, mercy and faith.”

Looking for God’s presence in the arts, sciences, academia and political, social and economic realms requires “study, awareness and experience,” the pope said.

“Some things that you cover can also seem not to be explicitly related to a Christian point of view but they are important for understanding the way in which people see themselves and the world around them,” he said.

The magazine’s “wide, objective and timely” coverage should pay “particular attention to the truth, goodness and beauty of God, which are precious allies in the commitment to defend human dignity, to build peaceful coexistence, and to carefully safeguard creation.”

That kind of attention “stems from a serene, sincere and strong judgment of events, which is also enlightened by Christ.”

The pope told the magazine’s staff to always keep an open heart and mind and “avoid the spiritual illness of being self-referential.”

By keeping their gaze on Christ, they will keep their work “prophetic and dynamic,” he told them, and they will “always remain young and daring in the reading of world events. (Carol Glatz)

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