THE INTERCULTURAL CHALLENGE AND EDUCATION
Identity, Belonging, Difference
Prof. Sergio Lanza
Teacher of Pastoral Theology, Lateran Pontifical University, Rome
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: It is the power of God saving all who have faith, Jews first, and also Greeks" (Rm 1,6)
Multiculturalism, with all of its related issues, can certainly not be said to be characteristic of contemporary society alone. It is true, however, that in our times multiculturalism has taken on a host of special and problematic features (it is more widespread, has a more complex ethnic mix, and a stronger emphasis on identity) and also that it is developing in what is in many ways a novel context (mobility, globalization, homogeneity).
Modern society was already shaken in its foundations in the late 20th century by the weak and introverted drift of what is known as post-modernity, and today it is being powerfully challenged by rapidly expanding migratory flows. This is occurring at the same time as deep changes in western civilization itself: personal uncertainty (metaphysical void); cultural homogeneity (techno-practical Prometheanism), ethical fragmentation (truth aphasia), mixing of customs (social-cultural perplexity).
This is a time when people have lost their bearings: "equals" recognize each other, but do not know each other. It is a time of alienation, with a universe crowded with signs and signals, but empty of symbols. And it is a hollow time: our universe is rich in means, but wanting in purpose.
This intricate thicket of problems, which is only roughly sketched out above, challenges the conscience of the faithful: what does faith in Jesus Christ the sole Saviour entail in the face of a multiple cultural and religious presence, or how can the commandment to love without bounds and without exclusion be reconciled with the need to safeguard and give full expression to the Christian faith? Is it inevitable that the only answer should be to confine religion to the private and irrational spheres?
Paths to a (non) solution
The maze of questions that arise in this area is often addressed with inadequate means that lead down broken paths. These paths include the following:
1. The delusion of a transitory phenomenon
Only a superficial reading of migrations can consider them to be short-lived and transitory. Quite the opposite: the contemporary presence of different cultures is a structural issue. Not an emergency, therefore, but definitely a social and pastoral
The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments
Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004