Category Archives: Culture

Music can proclaim Christ

music.jpg“Music, like art, can be a particularly great way to proclaim Christ because it is able to eloquently render more perceptible the mystery of the faith.” Music can “help us contemplate the intense and arcane mystery of Christian faith.”


(Pope Benedict XVI spoke after a concert given Our Lady’s Choral Society of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland on the occasion of the 80th anniv. Vatican City State, 13 Feb 2009)

Cardinal Bertone speaks about the role of the family and culture today

TBertone.jpgThe Cardinal Secretary of State to His Holiness, Tarcisio Bertone was in Mexico from January 15 to 19 to preside over the 6th World Meeting of Families. While in Mexico the cardinal met with Mexico‘s president, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa and with representatives of culture.

Bertone was interviewed by Carlo Di Cicco, deputy director of the Vatican newspaper, and Roberto Piermarini, director of the news service of the papal radio.


One of the relevant questions was on the family and culture why the cardinal gave substantial attention to these topics. What is good to keep before our eyes is the witness that BOTH family and culture can have for work in the Kingdom of God. In answer to this query, Cardinal Bertone said:


Because in reality, the family is the first transmitter of values and culture for the new generations; for children and young people growing up, the family is the transmitter of values. This is a proven fact in the experience of family life, despite all the difficulties that mark the way, not only in Europe but also in Latin America.

I recall a conference, a debate, that took place here in Rome, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, with Professor Barbiellini Amidei, precisely about the family, regarding its capacity or incapacity to address other instances of socialization in the task of transmitting values.

In the end we agreed that the family is the first instance of the transmission of values — and this is also the conviction of the Popes: of John Paul II and, particularly, Pope Benedict, as taken up in the two messages addressed to Mexico — the family is the first instance of human and Christian formation.

It transmits the identity, the family’s own identity, and the cultural and spiritual identity of a people.

Then the state is born thanks to the grouping, the communion among families, that is why the state should have the mission to strengthen the identity of a people grounded in its roots, in its origins, which later determine the development of both the political and ecclesial community.


Regarding Culture the cardinal was asked:  In the meeting with [people of] the world of culture and education you emphasized the limited success that Mexican culture had during the last century. Is it not a rather harsh judgment for a Church that suffered persecution, including a bloody one?
Cardinal Bertone: It is, in fact, a question of harsh judgment. I literally quoted an author, Gabriel Zaid, who remembers his meeting with a European bishop who asked him: “Is a Catholic culture possible in Mexico? Can the Catholic Church have some cultural influence in the country?”  

When this European bishop, more precisely this Dutch bishop, asked him what could be expected of Mexico, Zaid, desolate, said: “I couldn’t give him any hope.

“In Mexico, beyond the vestiges of better times and popular culture, Catholic culture has ended” — you must realize that we were in the 70s — it remained on the margin, in one of the most notable centuries of Mexican culture: the 20th century. How could that happen? — Zaid replied — “I’m still asking myself that!”

This diagnosis is certainly pessimistic: I have taken it up again precisely because there have been incentives, highly significant positive aspects, so that it would be very unjust to stress the negative and subscribe fully to this diagnosis.

Nevertheless, the writer’s observation and the bishop’s question require an answer; they are stimulating.

That culture is necessary in the work of the Church, and even more so in humanity itself, was affirmed by Pope John Paul II, in his great address in UNESCO, when he cried out: “The future of man depends on culture! The peace of the world depends on the primacy of the Spirit! The peaceful future of humanity depends on love!” Thus he related peace, culture and love.

For the Church, cultural promotion is an innate reality, written in her DNA, in her history: It is an urgent and necessary imperative.

By the very fact that the Gospel is itself creator of culture, the proclamation of the Gospel is cultural creation.
The truth is that the Church in Mexico was persecuted and gave many martyrs. I received and venerated the relics of a 15-year-old boy, who looked much more mature than his age, José Sánchez del Río, who took part in a cultural circle of Catholic Action.

Despite his young age, he was arrested, and after his capture he was killed. Before dying, he wrote “Long Live Christ the King,” which was the cry of Mexican martyrs.

That is why Mexico‘s Church is certainly a martyr Church, but also because of this she has been marginalized. This Church has always practiced a great religion of worship, very significant, source of her fidelity to Christ and of her enthusiasm for the faith, but somewhat resigned from the cultural point of view. That is why it was and is necessary to re-launch the whole of cultural promotion that — as I said — is innate to the mission of the Church, particularly in Mexico.

The faith-based initiative of the Admin

dubois.jpgA Presidential insider takes up the work of faith-based initiatives for the Obama administration, it was announced on February 5th. The 26 year old Princeton grad, Joshua DuBois (also a BU alum) will lead a restructured office which got its sea legs in the Bush administration but had its antecedants in prior administrations of government. He is a Pentecostal pastor. Known to be charismatic and bright, DuBois will be assisting faith groups navigate federal funding policies while having the ear of the President. According to the White House Press Office,

“The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will focus on four key priorities, to be carried out by working closely with the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and each of the eleven agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships:

-The Office’s top priority will be making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete.

-It will be one voice among several in the administration that will look at how we support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion.

-The Office will strive to support fathers who stand by their families, which involves working to get young men off the streets and into well-paying jobs, and encouraging responsible fatherhood.

-Finally, beyond American shores this Office will work with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.

“The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will include a new President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, composed of religious and secular leaders and scholars from different backgrounds. There will be 25 members of the Council, appointed to 1-year terms.

Members of the Council include:

Judith N. Vredenburgh

, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers / Big Sisters of America
Philadelphia, PA

Rabbi David N. Saperstein

, Director & Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and noted church/state expert
Washington, DC

Dr. Frank S. Page

, President emeritus, Southern Baptist Convention
Taylors, SC

Father Larry J. Snyder

, President, Catholic Charities USA
Alexandria, VA

Rev. Otis Moss, Jr.

, Pastor emeritus, Olivet Institutional Baptist Church
Cleveland, OH

Eboo S. Patel

, Founder & Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Corps
Chicago, IL

Fred Davie

, President, Public / Private Ventures, a secular non-profit intermediary
New York, NY

Dr. William J. Shaw

, President, National Baptist Convention, USA
Philadelphia, PA

Melissa Rogers

, Director, Wake Forest School of Divinity Center for Religion and Public Affairs and expert on church/state issues
Winston-Salem, NC

Pastor Joel C. Hunter

, Senior Pastor, Northland, a Church Distributed
Lakeland, FL

Dr. Arturo Chavez

, Ph.D., President & CEO, Mexican American Cultural Center
San Antonio, TX

Rev. Jim Wallis

, President & Executive Director, Sojourners
Washington, DC

Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie

, Presiding Bishop, 13th Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church
Knoxville, TN

Diane Baillargeon

, President & CEO, Seedco, a secular national operating intermediary
New York, NY

Richard Stearns

, President, World Vision
Bellevue, WA

All are interesting choices and all seem to be leaders in their respective faith traditions or organizations. I wonder if this group can work with the faith groups across the spectra and not just the people who follow their particular brand of faith. Two members of the Council are Catholics (one being a priest) and they are seemingly on the left side of the Church. THE common thread which unites this group is experience in community organizing, just like the President. I look forward to seeing the fruit of their labors. Dealing with the secularists is not going to be easy even for the theologically left of center people chosen for the Council.

Regarding the mandate to “address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion” I wonder just how this goal is going to be accomplished. It sounds fishy to me as I don’t trust the double-speak of President Obama when it comes to protecting life. He certainly has not demonstrated that pro-life matters are part of his makeup. In fact, the opposite is true: Obama has stepped on the pro-life efforts of reasonable people of all faiths.

“Garry & Harry” the story of twin brothers and priests: a story of hope in the face of Alzheimer’s

Fathers Garry and Harry Giroux are twin brothers, both Roman Catholic priests in a small town in upstate New York. In 2004, Father Harry was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and his brother Father Garry has been his caregiver ever since. “Garry and Harry” explores this fascinating story and the relationship of these brothers as they deal with their faith, family, and hope in the face of tragedy.

This film is the work of Steven Madeja, a freelance filmmaker and film festival director in Potsdam, NY. Madeja received a Bachelor’s with honors degree in Film from Vassar College in 2008.

Watch “Garry and Harry

Thanks to my friend Rachel for sharing this video.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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