Thought of John Paul II
Avery Dulles, S.J.
IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER the relationship between faith and culture has always been a concern of the Society of Jesus. Since its first charter of approval, the Jesuit order has understood the defense and propagation of the faith to be at the heart of its apostolate. Education, a major involvement of our Society, is a means of imparting culture, and Christian education seeks to impart culture consonant with the Gospel. As Jesuits, therefore, we have good reason to welcome the attention given to the theme of faith and culture since Vatican Council II and especially in the teaching of the present pope. This new interest is reflected in the documents of the 34th General Congregation, which in 1995 spoke of “the faith that evangelizes culture” and which treated the Gospel and culture as one of the three main aspects of the Jesuit mission today.1
The relationship between faith and culture first emerged as a major theme in official Catholic teaching, at Vatican II, which touched on the question in many documents, including the Constitution on the Liturgy, the Declaration on Christian Education, the Decree on the Lay Apostolate, and the Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity. The theme permeates the entire text of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes,which devoted the second chapter of part two to the specific topic of promoting the proper advance-
1 See Decree 2 and Decree 4 of Documents of the Thirty-Fourth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus (St. Louis: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 1995), esp. 38 and 49–65.