Among many viewpoints on "culture," the Church's understanding of culture can be defined as "the ensemble of principles, beliefs, modes of life, and practices -- received from past generations, practiced, modified, enriched or impoverished by the present generation, and transmitted to successive generations -- by which a group of persons is constituted and is perpetuated as a human community" [Paul Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture].
With a view toward this development of a fully human community, according to John Paul II, "The greatest challenge of our era comes above all from a growing separation between faith and reason, between the Gospel and culture" Inter Munera Academiarum, 1999, no. 2]. Responding to this challenge gives impetus to the work of the Salesian Center, whose programs and activities intend to develop new means for actualizing the Church's pastoral approach to culture in the context proper to institutions of higher education.
This approach calls for helping people to discover their transcendent origin and destiny, convincing them of the wisdom that comes from faith and reason, and inviting them to experience and understand the God with whom they are called to union [cf. Toward a Pastoral Approach to Culture, 1999, no. 11]. And in this approach, the work of education looms large on the cultural horizon: "Tomorrow's world depends on today's education, and education cannot be seen merely as a transmission of knowledge. It forms people and prepares them for their participation in social life by fostering their psychological, intellectual, cultural, moral, and spiritual maturity" [Toward a Pastoral Approach to Culture, no. 16].
Consistent with the overall mission of DeSales University, the Salesian Center for Faith and Culture focuses its attention on this multifarious drama of human life, in which the integrity and development of the human person are realized in and through culture. In this view, the work of the Salesian Center becomes a particular means by which to actualize the Church's pastoral approach to culture in the context proper to institutions of higher education.
For further analysis, see:
► Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture -- document issued by the Pontifical Council for Culture (1999)
► The Presence of the Church in the University -- document issued jointly by the Congregation for Education, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and the Pontifical Council for Culture (1994)