Cultural heritage, also known as cultural patrimony, is intrinsic to Catholic faith. Its stewardship is an ethical responsibility. The neglect, dispersal and destruction of that patrimony in numerous change strategies of the later twentieth century eroded a sense of belonging for many. And that problem has been highlighted by Catholic leadership.
The better conservation of religious cultural patrimony is assisted by an intellectual understanding of its important role in human belief contexts. This may be assisted by the manner in which late twentieth century secular appreciations of heritage value have moved beyond the empirical to now honour intangible themes of human engagement across diverse cultural circumstances. These include, for instance, authenticity, community meaning, and spirit of place.
This study specifically examines the benefit of this direction in understanding the Catholic tradition. This derives from ancient understandings of the living body as the bridge between memory and place, appreciations that are also validated in modern phenomenology and pastoral experience. That theme is reflected in the study title, Remember and Recognise.
The study proposes that the power of religious cultural patrimony depends upon its strategic valorisation in these terms. That is, to re-cognate and re-imagine sacred place and sacred time as fundamental engagements with the living body. For the individual, corporate and sacramental body is being constantly re-membered over time and place.
Several chapters offer reflections derived from local focus group discussions, as well as contact with experts in the field. These discussions point to the intuitive resonance of these concepts within ordinary pastoral situations.
Drawing from evolving international directions in the conservation of religious cultural patrimony, the study concludes by outlining some principles and practices for possible application in the Australian context.