Africans on Liturgy

Zenit has the propositions from the recent Synod of African Bishops. There are some liturgical elements in these. I direct your attention to five propositions treating Reconciliation (5-9), a brief note within proposition 33 on inculturation in liturgy, and #45, which treats “Eucharistic Source of Communion and Reconciliation.”

I’d like to take some personal time to read over the reflect on the propositions on reconciliation. Look for that in a later post. For now, let’s look at the shorter ones first, starting with these comments (Proposition 33) on inculturation, exorcism, and simony:

To be relevant and credible, the Church needs to make an in-depth discernment, so as to identify those aspects of culture which promote and those which hinder the inculturation of Gospel values.

Therefore, the Synod proposes that:

– positive elements of African traditional cultures be incorporated into the Church’s rites;

– canonical and liturgical regulations regarding the ministry of exorcism be used in a ministry of compassion, justice and charity; and

– simony be denounced among a certain number of priests, who abuse the sacramentals in order to meet the demands of the faithful who are fond of religious symbols, like incense, holy water, olive oil, salt, candles, etc.

It would be interesting to know the discussion and backstory on these elements. The bishop seem to value relevance as a minority in cultures dominated by Islam and tribal religions. I’ve never considered the ministry of exorcism outside of its place within the catechumenate as an aspect of reconciliation and conversion.

Citing the centrality of the Eucharist as source and summit of the Christian life, the bishops weigh in against the multi-purpose worship space:

Let us watch carefully the celebration of the Eucharist and arrange times and places for Eucharistic Adoration (individual and communal) in all dioceses and parishes. Care should be taken that Churches and chapels be ordinarily reserved for the celebration of the Eucharist, avoiding as much as possible that they become merely social spaces. The Synod Fathers ask that aid organizations be willing to support Dioceses, in sincere dialogue with local bishops, in the construction of places of worship, recognizing that these are essential for the visibility of the Church, a guarantee of a sense of the holy and of authentic and integral human development.

Big churches and worship centers for non-native Africans usually get a lion’s share of attention. I wonder how feasible it is in mission lands for small communities to have and support buildings that have relatively little use outside of worship.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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