Varietates Legitimae 5: Inculturation’s Place in the Church

This is a heavily footnoted section with more than just references. So as not to chop up the text, I’ll leave the full notes at the end of today’s paragraph:

5. Inculturation thus understood has its place in worship as in other areas of the life of the church.14 It constitutes one of the aspects of the inculturation of the Gospel, which calls for true integration15 in the life of faith of each people of the permanent values of a culture, rather than their transient expressions. It must, then, be in full solidarity with a much greater action, a unified pastoral strategy which takes account of the human situation.16 As in all forms of the work of evangelization, this patient and complex undertaking calls for methodical research and ongoing discernment.17 The inculturation of the Christian life and of liturgical celebrations must be the fruit of a progressive maturity in the faith of the people.18

Inculturation in liturgy must connect to the permanent, rather than the transient. Plus it needs to be part of a coordination in other aspects. well-discerned and researched. So far so good on this one.

14. Cf. Eastern Code of Canon Law, canon 584.2: “Evangelizatio gentium ita fiat, ut servata integritate fidei et morum Evangelium se in cultura singulorum populorum exprimere possit, in catechesi scilicet, in ritibus propriis liturgicis, in arte sacra in iure particulari ac demum in tota vita ecclesiali.”
15. Cf. Catechesi Tradendae, 53: “concerning evangelization in general, we can say that it is a call to bring the strength of the Gospel to the heart of culture and cultures…. It is in this way that it can propose to cultures the knowledge of the mystery hidden and help them to make of their own living tradition original expressions of life, celebration and Christian thought.”
16. Cf. Redemptoris Missio, 52: “Inculturation is a slow process covering the whole of missionary life and involves all who are active in the mission ad gentes and Christian communities in the measure that they are developing.” Discourse to Pontifical Council for Culture plenary assembly: “I strongly reaffirm the need to mobilize the whole church into a creative effort toward a renewed evangelization of both people and cultures. It is only by a joint effort that the church will be able to bring the hope of Christ into the heart of cultures and present- day ways of thinking.”
17. Cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Foi et culture a la lumiere de la Bible, 1981; and International Theological commission, “Faith and Inculturation, 1988.
18. Cf. John Paul II, Discourse to the Bishops of Zaire, April 12, 1983, No. 5: AAS 75 (1983), 620: “How is it that a faith which has truly matured, is deep and firm, does not succeed in expressing itself in a language, in a catechesis, in theological reflection, in prayer, in the liturgy, in art, in the institutions which are truly related to the African soul of your compatriots? There is the key to the important and complex question of the liturgy, to mention just one area. Satisfactory progress in this domain can only be the fruit of a progressive growth in faith, linked with spiritual discernment, theological clarity, a sense of the universal church.”

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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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