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Friday, November 14, 2003


VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2003 (VIS) - Today at midday in the Holy See Press Office, the 'vademecum' or handbook of the Catholic Cultural Centers, edited by the Pontifical Council for Culture, was presented. Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the dicastery, and Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the Italian Episcopal Conference, spoke during the conference.

Cardinal Poupard said that the vademecum is the outcome of international meetings of the Catholic Cultural Centers 'in culturally and geographically homogenous areas.' These meetings began in 1993. 'On every occasion, in addition to offering our contribution to the promotion and development of the Catholic Cultural Centers, we listened carefully and considered the questions, needs, and expectations of each one of them. One of the first demands which was fully accepted was to create a way of communication to form a true network for these realities.'

'The Pontifical Council for Culture,' he continued, 'has published an international directory of all the Catholic Cultural centers,' which can be consulted on the dicastery's web site. The directory of Italian Cultural Centers has been published as a separate booklet.

The president of the dicastery explained that behind the denomination 'Catholic Cultural Center,' there are 'extremely diversified realities, characterized by many activities and interests' whose essential goal is 'to put the Christian faith in touch with culture and the cultures of our time, and with all related phenomena. Therefore, the relationship between faith and culture is the essential area in which all the Catholic Cultural Centers operate.'

'In order to bridge the gap between faith and culture, between the Gospel and daily experience, between the proclamation of Christ and the indifference and atheism of so many men and women of our time, the Church has made great steps, especially after the Vatican Council II and the appeal of Paul VI who in 'Evangelii nuntiandi' defined the fracture as the real drama of our age.' In addition to interventions by the Magisterium and pastors, he added, 'local action from the ground level is necessary, action which takes places locally, which values cultural traditions of every reality, which responds to the needs of a specific population.'

Bishop Betori spoke about the 'cultural project based on the Christian tradition,' which he said, 'is an initiative that the Italian Church has promoted for almost eight years and whose objective is to make a connection between the Gospel and culture.'

At present, he said, 'there are 341 registered cultural centers, 'which operate in Italy and collaborate in different ways with the national service for the cultural project.' The handbook which was presented today contains the addresses of these centers, as well as information on the 'general mission, the initiatives and cultural services they offer.' For more information, consult the web site: www.progettoculturale.it


VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2003 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received participants in the eighteenth International Conference on Depression, organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

The Pope said that 'the spread of depression has become worrying. Human, psychological and spiritual fragility is manifested through the disease, which at least in part is induced by society. It is important to be aware of the repercussions that the messages sent by the media - which exalt consumerism, the immediate gratification of one's every desire, the constant search for greater material well-being - have on people. It is necessary to propose new ways so that every person may be able to improve their own personality, cultivating their spiritual life which is the foundation of a mature existence.'

People who take care of the depressed 'must help them to rediscover their self-esteem, confidence in their own capability, interest in the future, desire to live. Therefore, it is important to help the sick, to make them feel God's tenderness, to integrate them into a community of faith and a life in which they feel loved, understood, supported, dignified, that is to love and to be loved.' On the spiritual path, he added, reading and meditating on the psalms is of great help, as well as praying the rosary, participating in the Eucharist, a 'source of interior peace.'

John Paul II emphasized that in the face of the phenomenon of depression the Church and society must 'propose to people, especially young people, models and experiences that help them to grow on the human, psychological, moral and spiritual level. The absence of points of reference will only weaken their personalities, causing them to think all behavior is of the same value. In this sense, the role of the family, the school, youth movements, and parish association is very relevant.'

'Also significant,' he concluded, 'is the role of public institutions in order to assure dignified conditions of life, especially for people who have been abandoned, the sick and the elderly. Equally necessary are policies for young people, policies which offer a reason for hope to the new generations, rescuing them from the feeling of emptiness or other dangers.'

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2003 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

Four prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India on their 'ad limina' visit.

- Archbishop Michael Augustine of Pondicherry and Cuddalore.

- Bishop Jude Gerald Paulraj of Palayamkottai.

- Bishop Antony Devotta of Tiruchirapalli.

- Bishop Peter Remigius of Kumbakonam.

- Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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VATICAN CITY, NOV 14, 2003 (VIS) - Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, spoke today at the International Seminar on Media Education: World Experiences, organized by the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP). The seminar took place in the Free University of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven (LUMSA) in Rome.

'Media education is absolutely essential in today's world,' said the archbishop,
'but I must admit that I have found opposition from two sources: the academic community and media executives.'

'Academics,' he explained, 'object because many of them don't consider media as serious. How they can overlook the profound influence that media have on youth ' is an attitude I cannot understand. Teachers can and should help young people to be critical and intelligent consumers of the media.'

'Media executives object because media education can and should make people critical, and I sometimes think that some media executives prefer couch potatoes ' those who watch entertainment and perhaps news programming without a critical eye ' and then buy most of the things that are advertised.'

'Thus, I look forward to hearing today of media education experiences around the world. We need such education and we need such shared experience.'
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