The Church and Cultures
“The Catholic Church,” stated Our same predecessor, “has never fostered an attitude of contempt or outright rejection of pagan teachings but, rather, has completed and perfected them with Christian doctrine, after purifying them from all dross of error. So, too, the Church, to a certain extent, consecrated native art and culture…, as well as the special customs and traditional institutions of the people…; she has even transformed their feast days, leaving unchanged their methods of computation and their form, but dedicating them to the memory of the martyrs and to the celebration of the sacred Mysteries.” We Ourselves have already expressed Our thoughts on this matter as follows: “Wherever artistic and philosophical values exist which are capable of enriching the culture of the human race, the Church fosters and supports these labors of the spirit.
On the other hand, the Church, as you know, does not identify itself with any one culture, not even with European and Western civilization, although the history of the Church is closely intertwined with it; for the mission entrusted to the Church pertains chiefly to other matters, that is, to matters which are concerned with religion and the eternal salvation of men.
The Church, however, which is so full of youthful vigor and is constantly renewed by the breath of the Holy Spirit, is willing, at all times, to recognize, welcome, and even assimilate anything that redounds to the honor of the human mind and heart, whether or not it originates in parts of the world washed by the Mediterranean Sea, which, from the beginning of time, had been destined by God’s Providence to be the cradle of the Church.”
SOURCE: PRINCEPS PASTORUM-ENCYCLICAL OF POPE JOHN XXIII ON THE MISSIONS, NATIVE CLERGY, AND LAY PARTICIPATION-NOVEMBER 28, 1959