Archbishop discusses faith
Catherine Owers | Thursday, February 27, 2014
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and titular archbishop of Vicohabentia, discussed the role of the Church in contemporary culture during the 2014 Terrence R. Keeley Vatican Lecture on Wednesday.
Fisichella, who was awarded an honorary doctorate of law from Notre Dame in 2006, addressed the Church’s relationship to politics during the lecture in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. He said Catholicism is not an opponent of democracy.
“On doctrinal matters, Catholicism places human intellects on the same level,” Fisichella said. “It applies the same standard to each person. It likes to blend all social classes at the foot of the same altar, just as they are blended in the sight of God.”
Believers should avoid a sense of indifference to questions of culture, politics and society, Fisichella said.
“[They] are not something extraneous to us, but something to which we are called to give an answer,” he said. “In every part of the world, Christians are called to bring with their witness a world of love, which would allow us to go beyond the difficulties and the contradictions of the moment, in order to restore confidence in every person.”
Fisichella said the Church today faces many of the same challenges that it has in the past.
“We are in front of a great challenge between Christianity and the new paganism,” he said. “As in the past, and, unfortunately, also today, those in power try to discredit the adversary through all possible means.
“From calumny to scandals, from the trivialization of its contents, to the isolation and discrediting of those who believe, from the marginalization to the derision of what is most precious for the faith. All of these, of course, [occur] under the absent gaze of those who invoke ‘tolerance,’ which, strangely enough, is a one-way street.”
Fisichella said Catholics have a great and immediate responsibility to society.
“This is a task which cannot be procrastinated or left only to academic classrooms,” he said. “Of course, the university continues to be the privileged place where thought is formed and where critical reason provokes us to reflect and discover coherent solutions.
“And yet, if we do not find the necessary mediations so that thought becomes a living culture among all peoples, then even the most profound and insightful thought will be ineffective. The thought of being challenged by such an important task should gladden the soul of believers.”
The life of the Church will always remain bound by the obedience of the word of God, Fisichella said.
“This constitutes the cause and the primary condition of our existence,” he said. “Without such a constitutive principle, the Church will be simply one of many institutions incapable of being distinct from any other type of social, economic or political group. The Second Vatican Council has many times confirmed this specificity of the Church.”
Fisichella said the strength of the Church does not come from its number of believers.
“We are not like those who make the vitality of the faith depend on statistics,” he said. “We realize, in fact, that our principal task is to bring the Gospel to all. We will never be content until it has reached even the last person on this world.”