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|Congregation for the Clergy|
General Directory for Catechesis
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22. Amongst the elements which make up the cultural heritage of a people, religious and moral factors are of particular interest to the sower. There is in contemporary culture a persistent spread of religious indifference: "Many however of our contemporaries ...either do not at all perceive, or else explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God".(32)
Atheism, understood as a negation of God, "must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time".(33) While it can take various forms, it often appears today under the guise of secularism, which consists in an excessively autonomous view of man and of the world "according to which it is entirely self-explanatory without any reference to God".(34) In the specifically religious sphere there are signs of "a return to the sacred",(35) of a new thirst for transcendent reality and for the divine. The contemporary world acknowledges in a more comprehensive and vital way "the renewed interest in religious research".(36) Certainly this phenomenon "is not without ambiguity".(37) The widespread growth of sects and new religious movements and the revival of "fundamentalism" (38) are factors of serious concern for the Church and require careful analysis
23. The moral situation of today is on a par with its religious situation. There is an evident obscuring of the ontological truth of the human person—as though the denial of God meant an interior breakdown of the aspirations of the human being.(39) In many places this contributes to the rise of an "ethical relativism which would remove any sure moral reference point from political and social life".(40) Evangelization encounters a privileged field of activity in the religious and moral sphere. Indeed the primordial mission of the Church is to proclaim God and to be his witness before the world. This involves making known the true face of God and his loving plan of salvation for man, as it has been revealed in Jesus Christ. To prepare such witnesses, it is necessary for the Church to develop a profoundly religious catechesis, nourished on the Gospel, which will deepen man's encounter with God and forge a bond of permanent communion with Him.
32) GS 19.
34) EN 55; cf. LC 41 and GS 19.
35) Synod, II, A 1.
36) ChL 4.
37) Cf. RM 38.
38) CA 29 and 46c.
39) Cf. GS 36. John Paul II, in the encyclical letter Dominum et vivificantem (18 may 1986), n. 38: AAS 78 (1986), pp. 851-852, also establishes this connection: "The ideology of the 'death of God' easily demonstrates in its effects that on the 'theoretical and practical' levels it is the ideology of the 'death of man'".
40) VS 101; cf. EV 19, 20.
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