Vatican conference to discuss future of Church cultural heritage
By Lisa Zengarini
The cataloguing, management and innovation of the cultural heritage of religious communities will be the focus of an international conference organized in Rome from 4-5 May by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Pontifical Council for Culture.
Charism and Creativity
Titled “Charism and Creativity”, the conference is intended to strengthen networks and share best practices so as to improve the capacity of religious communities to protect and develop their heritage in a creative fashion. It is the outcome of growing awareness of the fact that the Church's cultural assets are part of the cultural identity of local communities and can provide new means for promoting its pastoral and missionary goals.
The two-day consultation is organized alongside the National Office for Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage and Religious Buildings of the Italian Episcopal Conference, the Faculty of History and Cultural Heritage of the Church of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Department of Architecture of the University of Bologna, and in collaboration with the International Union of Superiors General (IUSG) and the Union of Superiors General (USG) and the Nuns Assistance Secretariat.
Press Office presentation
The event was presented at a press conference held on Thursday at the Vatican Press Office.
Keynote speakers included, amongst others, Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
The two Vatican Cardinals highlighted the crucial role religious communities are called to play in fulfilling the Church’s responsibility of carefully managing its cultural assets in light of its evangelizing mission and also of its particular concern for the poor.
Managing the Church's heritage
They noted that this task is all the more urgent today as religious orders face decline in numbers resulting in higher risks of abandonment and degradation of their immense cultural heritage.
Consecrated men and women are called "to reflect together on the value of their assets in today’s society, their ultimate destination, and their intimate connection with the charism of their religious order and with the prophetic dimension of that charism," said Cardinal de Aviz .
Challenges and good practices
Participants in the session will therefore share reflections and experiences on these challenges and discuss new strategies to promote an integrated, and ultimately more effective, management of the Church’s cultural heritage.
In the lead up to the conference, organizers have collected a number of researches, projects and good practices in this field. The contributions, coming mainly from Europe, have been collected under four themes which will be the topics of the session: Frameworks for theoretical understanding, Cataloguing, Management, and Reuse.
A selection of fifteen contributions will be presented at the conference. Also, a questionnaire has been addressed to religious institutes ahead of the event.