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Cultural Routes: Cardinal Bagnasco (CCEE) at the Council of Europe, “expression of the past with the power to foster the future”

(Strasbourg) European cultural heritage “is unquestionably an expression of the past. However, it’s a past that wants to speak to the present and, above all, it has the power to engender the future,” said Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, President of the Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE), this afternoon at the Conference on the “Cultural routes of the Council of Europe. Journeys of faith and encounter” in Strasbourg. The event is promoted by the Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the CoE with the purpose of highlighting “the adhesion of the Holy See to the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes in the framework of the European Year of Cultural heritage, proclaimed by the European Union, His Eminence pointed out. Cardinal Bagnasco quoted from Pope Francis several times, drawing inspiration from the speech delivered by Francis during his recent visit to the Baltic Countries, whence emerged “two different understandings of cultural heritage, of its value, of its inherent potentials. In fact cultural heritage can be viewed as an object, a precious object – be it an architectural masterpiece, a work of art, of music, or a literary production: an object that expresses a bygone past which we recognize ourselves heirs to,  that requires to be preserved because of its beauty, and which can
become a source of aesthetic attractiveness and thus of tourist attraction,” Yet, while “this vision grasps something that is essential, it fails to express the deepest meaning of cultural heritage. As Pope Francis suggested referring to the organ of Riga’s Cathedral, it is more than an object. It is part of the life, traditions and identity of a community and of a people.” In this respect, added the CCEE President, “I believe that the slogan chosen for the European Year of Cultural Heritage, ‘Where the past meets the future’, opportunely expresses this deeper, richer understanding of heritage as a living reality.” Cultural heritage “is the solidification of a specific humanism. In the experience of art it’s a vision of  man that is manifested precisely by embracing what transcends the human person , namely, the experience of beauty, of truth, of goodness. Thus it is no coincidence that religion is by far the category with the greatest presence in cultural heritage. Through art, man expresses what he perceives as ineffable. Approaching a given culture means tuning into the everlasting quest for the Absolute, which characterizes human nature.”

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