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pressing need, as perceived already by Vatican II5.

2. The atrophy of difference (the deception of tolerant pluralism)

Another, even more severe distortion, is the delusion that the issue of cultural multi-ethnicity may be solved within the paradigm of modern pluralism and tolerance.

The term "multi-cultural" itself points dangerously in this direction. It can be understood not only descriptively, but also prescriptively, as a form of mutual tolerance or, more realistically, mutual indifference. An a-centric society will flatten out every culture with its procedural anonymity.

This situation is worsened by the fact that the Western world no longer recognizes its roots and that it unhinges and blurs over its (procedural) frame of reference, which becomes merely nominalistic (i.e. life, family...).

A multi-cultural society has a positive potential only within a broad framework of cultural compatibility (rather than congeniality). A society that does not confine itself to laying down the rules of human action, or to the protection of individuals, but which identifies social (that is symbolic) languages that are truly shared and where different identities may converge on substantial values. This is why a multi-cultural society cannot be based on "weak thought"; quite the opposite: it must have a strong legal system and institutions. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the so-called "pensée unique", uni-polar thinking, the form of a single-mindedness that emarginates differences within a cultural homogeneity, or even falls into the horrors of ethnic cleansing.

3. The hypertrophy of belonging (the communitarian disguise)

The pluralist path leads to indifference. The communitarian way leads to a vision of otherness which hardens differences and the sense of belonging. It entails the risk (more than the risk, perhaps) of providing a mask to a society that is broken up into non-communicating compartments, which are prone to hostility.

It is certainly true, however, that people today are not only claiming individual citizenship rights, but also the right to preserve and value their own cultural identity, which is a collective identity. Public ethics can only be founded on identity, belonging, difference.

Normative references

1. Non-ethnic religion

In a totally surprising way, and in a clear break with both their Jewish origin and their classical destination, the early Christians started to think of identity and culture with new parameters (see Gl 3.28; Rm 1,14-16; Cal 3,11; Letter to Dionetus).

Their new socio-cultural paradigm comprised the following:

*Cultural expression and relevance of the faith

*Recognition of the public role of religion.

The Christian faith:

-Does not discriminate a priori against any culture (equal dignity)

-Does not withdraw into tolerant and ignorant co-existence

5 GS 5.

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