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-Does considers it necessary to evaluate cultures on the basis of their historical materialization (just as the equal dignity of human persons does not mean sanctioning all types of behavior, recognition of equal dignity does not render it illegitimate to make differential assessments and have preferential options even with respect to attitudes and cultures that are wholly acceptable).

2. Faith and Reason

The plan of God cannot be deduced from the expectations of man. Yet, God's plan does not lie outside human expectations, but rather surprises them and leads them to truth:

*The act of faith is not alien to reason nor it is against reason. It is the expression and the tension of reason beyond reason. Reason wins over its weakness when it recognizes a Truth that lies beyond it, and that nourishes and illumines it.

*Revelation is not heterogeneous to human knowledge, it is both transcendent and immanent in relationship to it: "thus the Revelation introduces a universal and ultimate truth into our history that invites the mind of man never to stop; on the contrary it encourages man to increase the breadth of his knowledge"6.

*Truth is never possessed once and for all, but is always received and sought after.

3. Christian identity

An identity that is restricted to autonomy, either subjective (Liberals) or collective (Communitarians) will pay the price of its self-referential identity with solitude, and the only way out is the uproar of bacchanals or the scream of violence. Christianity does not eliminate differences. It eliminates discrimination (Gal 3,28). The difference of faith (and its transcendence with respect to all determined cultures) does not make an apolid out of a Christian nor an antagonistic community out of the Church.

Identity as intolerance?

The faith choice entails perhaps "an element of intolerance in the very definition of Christian identity".7 There is a pressing need for deep inculturation: "a faith that does not become culture is a faith that has not been fully accepted, fully thought through, faithfully lived"8.

It is through an original and irrepressible drive that the Christian faith projects its values into the historic experience of mankind. This movement is easy and almost unconscious in situations where Christianity is homogeneous and the space of the Church coincides with that of the world. It is difficult, instead, in a multi-cultural society.

4. Rethinking democracy

In modernity, a multi-cultural society is governed on the basis of pluralism, which teaches tolerance towards individuals and groups, and the neutrality of the state, which is based, as we have seen, on an implicit adhesion to a well-identified set of values, even though these values have now been pushed to the side.

In post-modernity, having lost that shared framework of reference, the pluralist-tolerant-neutral model reveals just how culturally inane it truly is. It inexorably sinks

6Fides et Ratio, 14.

7G.G. STROUMSA, La formazione dell'identità cristiana, Brescia 1999, 135.

8JOHN PAUL II, Discorso ai partecipanti al Congresso nazionale del movimento ecclesiale di impegno culturale, Jan. 16, 1982, 2.

The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments

Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004

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