Letter of His Holiness
Benedict XVI To Carc. Jean-Louis Tauran on the Occasion of the Colloquium
"Culture, Reason and
To Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran
Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church
Please be kind enough to convey my cordial
greetings to all the people who are taking part in the Colloquium "Culture,
reason and freedom". It is being held in Paris to commemorate the Visit on 2
June 1980 to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) of my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II. I wish to greet in
particular Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, as I remember that
the organization is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. I also greet Mr
Michael Omolewa, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, all their
collaborators and all the persons accredited to this institution.
Today we can be deeply grateful to Pope John
Paul II, who always stressed in his teachings, backed by his strong personal and
cultural experience, man's central and irreplaceable position together with his
fundamental dignity, the source of his inalienable rights. Twenty-five years
ago, the Pope declared at the headquarters of UNESCO that "in the cultural
field, man is always the first fact: man is the prime and fundamental fact of
culture" (Address to UNESCO, 2 June 1980, n. 8; L'Osservatore Romano English
edition, 23 June 1980, p. 9).
Was not one of the key points of the
Reflection he addressed to this "aeropagus... of intelligence and consciences",
as he described his audience, a reminder to each one of its members of his
responsibility: "construct peace, beginning with the foundation: respect for all
the rights of man, those which are connected with his material and economic
dimension as well as those which are connected with the spiritual and interior
dimension of his existence in the world" (ibid. n. 22, p. 12)?
To proclaim the Gospel's liberating newness to
every human person, to reach out to him in all that makes up his life and
expresses his humanity, is the Church's ongoing challenge. This mission,
received by the Church from her Lord, basically corresponds with your initiative
and highly justifies the desire that the Holy See has always had to take part,
through the presence of a Permanent Observer, in your reflections and
commitment. This is what the Catholic Church will continue to do, mobilizing her
own forces which are first and foremost spiritual, to contribute to the good of
human beings in all the dimensions of their being.
In a world at the same time many-faceted and
enlightened but also subjected to the pressing demands of the globalization of
economic relations and especially of information, it is of the utmost importance
to mobilize the energies of intelligence so that the human person's right to
education and culture may be recognized everywhere, particularly in the poorest
In this world where men and women must learn
increasingly to recognize and respect their brothers and sisters, the Church
wants to make her own contribution to serving the human community by shedding
more and more light on the relationship that unites each person to the Creator
of all life and is the basis of the inalienable dignity of every human being,
from conception to natural death.
I greet the members of the university
community and the teachers who are taking part in this Colloquium. I would like
once again to express to them the Church's trust and encourage them to persevere
in their demanding and exalting task at the service of truth.
I invite all those taking part in this
Colloquium to put into practice a real cultural policy in order to preserve
cultural identities that are often threatened by relations with economic and
political forces, and also to foster human cultural expression in all the
dimensions of the person's being.
As I cordially greet all the Religious and
civil personages present at this meeting, I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance
of divine Blessings upon everyone.
From the Vatican, 24 May 2005