The Catholic English-speakers think they’re getting picked on? What about non-Western cultures in Asia? Father William Grimm has an interesting commentary on UCA News today.
Bishops there have had to convince Rome that some European gestures and words are better left on the other side of the Urals. One doesn’t kiss an altar in Japan … and get away with it as a gesture of anything less than sexual. Fr Grimm:
It appears that since sex enters the picture, the curial officials involved have finally agreed to back down and allow some form of bow instead.
The slavish translators have run into another Japanese roadblock: there is no word for “spirit,” except with two connotations I don’t think belong in the liturgy: as a spook or ghost, or in the sense of a hyper-patriotic spirit. With typical bureaucratic hubris:
The curial response to native Japanese speakers who try to point out that difficulty has been that they just do not know their own language well enough.
Check out this quote from a Roman document of a different era:
Make no endeavor and in no way persuade these people to change their rites, habits and mores as long as these are not very manifestly contrary to religion and good mores. Indeed, what would be more absurd than to introduce Gaul, Spain, Italy or some other part of Europe to China? Bring not these things but the faith, which neither rejects nor harms the rites and customs of any nation provided they are not perverse but which rather desires them to remain intact.
And because it is almost the nature of men to prefer in estimation and love their own things, and especially their own nation, to things that belong to others, there exists no cause of hatred and alienation more poignant than the tampering with native customs, above all, of those which men have grown accustomed to from the memory of their forefathers. Especially is this true when you substitute and bring in the mores of your own country in place of those you have removed. Therefore never interchange the practices of these people with European practices; rather with great diligence become accustomed to their practices.
From the permissive and over-accommodating 60′s and 70′s? Nope. It goes back to ’59. Really.