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Evansville, Indiana
November 13, 1987     The Message
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November 13, 1987

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Faith Today Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 13, 1987 , ! , i Points of contact By Katharine Bird NC News Service n a brilliant September day at the pope's sum- mer residence at Castel Gandolfo, participants in an international, in- terdenominational conference visited the spectacular private papal gardens. They contain the vast ruins of a villa once occupied by the Roman Emperor Domitian. Looking at the ruins was a poig- nant experience, Father Ernan McMullin said, because this was where Pope Pius XII concealed thousands of Jews to save them from the Nazis during World War II before helping them flee to safe- ty using Vatican passports. That rescue is "a practical ex- ample" of one way the church in- teracts with culture, said Father McMullin, director of the history of science and philosophy pro- gram at the University of Notre Dame. It shows the church taking concrete action to protect threatened people. The conference at Castel Gan- dolfo, co-sponsored by the Pon- tifical Council for Culture, was held in honor of the 300th an- niversary of Isaac Newton's Prin. cipta Mathematica. The con- ference itself was an example of the church taking an interest in culture, Father McMullin said, in this case the scientific world. The conference brought together 2 l theologians, physicists and philosophers to discuss the relationship between Christian belief and the natural sciences. Such conferences ensure that the church has direct contact with scientists on "issues of common concern," such as evolution and the origin of the world, Father McMullin said. Contact with the world's culture is crucial, he explained, because it keeps the church "in touch with the real concerns of people, with their real needs and beliefs and motivations." The only way the church can effectively preach to all nations "is to speak to where people are," the priest continued. Main- taining a dialogue "is a way of en- suring that each side hears the other without distortion." "That's difficult in any human relationship," Father McMuUin added. But if the church doesn't maintain this kind of d!alogue, it runs the risk of carrying on a one- sided conversation and even of having communication break off entirely. Then its preaching of the word becomes less effective. The pope has indicated he places a high priority on the church being in dialogue with culture. This dialogue "is a vital field in which the fate of the world at the end of the 20th cen- tury is at stake," he wrote in a 1982 letter establishing the Pon- tifical Council for Culture. The pope said part of the coun- cil's purpose is to give witness to the church's "deep interest in culture" and to facilitate church- culture dialogue at various levels. But pursuing those goals presents the church with a com- plicated challenge because the word culture is a catchall word which covers a lot of territory. Culture is used to refer to a distinct way of life -- American, Appalachian or Hispanic culture. It also covers the work various groups of people pursue in com- mon -- the culture of musicians or artists or doctors. The great diversity encompassed by the term is reflected in the wide range of concerns pursued by the Pontifical Council for Culture. It participates, for example, in a wide variety of conferences: a Buenos. Aires conference on evangelization' and culture; a Tokyo conference on scienCe, technology and spiritual values to emphasize an: Asian approach to modernization; a conference in Nigeria on the role oflAfrican women in:social and ultural developmeni . : obviously the' task of entering into dialogue with culture is no easy matter. Despite its vast im- plications, however/it is a task the church today considers crucial for the future. (Ms. Bird is associate editor of Faith Today.) Cuitu,00 By Father John Castelot NC News Service bout 132 B.C. a young Jew arrived in Alexan- . dria, Egypt. He found himself in an exciting city, a center of philosophy, art, mathematics, ar- chitecture -- all that went to make up Greek culture. At this time there were an estimated 250,000 Jews living 4 there. The Old Testament already had been translated into Greek for them. Still it occurred to this v young Jew that he had a contribu- br tion to make that would supply os for an obvious deficiency in the in culture. He had something to offer ca to all who were genuinely in- "t terested in acquiring wisdom, w Some years before, his grand- father, Jesus ben Sirach, wrote a su work in Hebrew -- the Old Testa- c ment book of Sirach. It was prac- ec tical and down-to-earth, applyi, to revealed truth to everyday life. While it extolled the supreme ad wisdom of God's revelation, it had an something for everyone. It deserv- th ed to be translated, th In a quaint, charming introduc- fe tion to the Greek edition, the to grandson praised his grandfather's accomplishments and urged people as to read his work "in a spirit of at- h tentive good-will, with indulgencc th for any apparent failure on our th part .... For words spoken original- cc Where tV By Father David K. O'Rourke, OP 7(} NC News Service II' Fr hirty miles north of San Francisco's Golden " Gate, at the hilly point where the great Sacramento and San Joa- quin rivers join to form San Fran- cisco Bay, is the scenic little town of Benicia. It began in Spanish colonial days as a village named after the governor's wife, then served as California's first capital during the Gold Rush. Benicia became the seat of the U.S. government's arsenal during the years of Western expansion; now it is a major port for auto imports from Japan. Because of its beautiful waterfront location and the availability of studio space dating from the arsenal days, it also has a colony of artists. Recently I talked with several of the artists. Michael Nourot, Ann Corcoran and David Lindsay are glass blowers. They received public attention when they were asked to produce the cruets, altar bowls and the 1,200 glass dishes used to distribute Communion to ke fu ch lit cu th all st ca re In se Fr di