The Pontifical Council for Culture promotes the meeting between the salvific message of the Gospel and the cultures of our time, often marked by unbelief and religious indifference, so that they can be opened up to the Christian Faith, which creates culture and is an inspiring source of the sciences, letters and arts (Cf. Motu Proprio "Inde a Pontificatus, 25 March 1993, Art. 1); it manifests the Church’s pastoral concern for the rupture between the Gospel and culture. And so it promotes the study of the questions of unbelief and religious indifference that are present in different cultural areas, seeking out the causes and examining the consequences for the Christian Faith, in order to provide support for the Church’s pastoral action in the evangelisation of cultures and the inculturation of the Gospel (Cf. Ibid., Art. 2); it fosters relations between the Church and the Holy See and the world of culture, assuming initiatives aimed at promoting the dialogue between Faith and culture and intercultural dialogue. And it follows those that are undertaken by various Church institutions offering its own collaboration to the corresponding offices of the Episcopal Conferences (Cf. Ibid., Art. 3).
The Department in the light of “Inde a Pontificatus”
The “Human Sciences” Department was recently established by then-Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi and is located in the section Faith and Culture, but is not totally removed from the section Dialogue with Cultures, and it is a centre of research and study for a wide variety of interests. It has, as it were, a large constellation of themes and specific areas on which, together with other Departments of the Dicastery, it focuses its attention.
Its area of “jurisdiction” can be defined in terms of anthropology, philosophy, and theology: philosophy and economy, cinema and music, university and mass media are currently the sectors receiving the most attention.
The newness of this sector demands the constitution of a network of relations with people who for reasons of competence and profession are engaged with the themes of the Department’s interest. Hence a list of “experts” has been drawn up which sets out areas of interest and the competency of those who have expressed a desire to collaborate with the Dicastery. These are people who we call “experts” and can be invited, on different occasions, to engage on particular initiatives of study and exploration.
The routine of the Department’s activity is not that of an Office for the Organisation of Events and Initiatives, but rather reflects its role as a personality offering dialogue and response, a cauldron of ideas able to be present in the ever-changing cultural reality with which it is engaged. It wishes to be a stimulus to raise awareness of the crucial and substantial themes that touch the human person, so that the voice of the Holy See, through the Dicastery, can reach the cultural debates of our time.
The main objective is of making the Church’s presence neither casual nor accessorial but trustworthy and pertinent, so as to pronounce a word that can guide the cultures of our time. This does not mean we wish to water down the radical aspect of the Gospel, but to make the Word understandable – the Word which is the Word of God, who is for all humanity opening wide our horizons and raising the unavoidable questions about the crucial themes of life.