GDC 112-113: No Inflexibility, No Accommodations

Let’s pick up on yesterday’s point emphasizing the criterion of presenting the whole of the Gospel, then wrap up with throwing inculturation into the balance.

112. Two closely connected dimensions underlie this criterion.

– The integral presentation of the Gospel message, without ignoring certain fundamental elements, or without operating a selectivity with regard to the deposit of faith. (Catechesi Tradendae 30) Catechesis, on the contrary, “must take diligent care faithfully to present the entire treasure of the Christian message”. (General Catechetical Directory 38a) This is accomplished, gradually, by following the example of the divine pedagogy with which God revealed himself progressively and gradually. Integrity must also be accompanied by adaptation. Consequently catechesis starts out with a simple proposition of the integral structure of the Christian message, and proceeds to explain it in a manner adapted to the capacity of those being catechized. Without restricting itself to this initial exposition, it gradually and increasingly proposes the Christian message more amply and with greater explicitness, in accordance with the capacity of those being catechized and with the proper character of catechesis. (General Catechetical Directory 38b) These two levels of the integral exposition of the Gospel message are called: intensive integrity and “extensive integrity”.

– The presentation of the authentic Gospel message, in all of its purity, without reducing its demands for fear of rejection and without imposing heavy burdens which it does not impose, since the yoke of Jesus is light. (Cf. Mt 11:30) The criterion of authenticity is closely connected with that of inculturation since the latter is concerned to “translate” (Evangelii Nuntiandi 63 uses the expressions “transferre” and “translatio”; cf. Redemptoris Missio 53b) the essentials of the Gospel message into a definite cultural language. There is always tension in this necessary task: “Evangelization will lose much of its power and efficacy if it does not take into consideration the people to whom it is addressed.”. however “it may lose its very nature and savour if on the pretext of transposing its content into another language that content is rendered meaningless or is corrupted… (Evangelii Nuntiandi 63c; cf. Catechesi Tradendae 53c and Catechesi Tradendae 31)

113. In the complex relationship between inculturation and the integrity of the Christian message, the criterion to be applied is a Gospel attitude of “a missionary openness to the integral salvation of the world”. (Synod 1985, II, D, 3; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 65) This must always unite acceptance of truly human and religious values with the missionary task of proclaiming the whole truth of the Gospel, without falling either into closed inflexibility or into facile accommodations which enfeeble the Gospel and secularize the Church. Gospel authenticity excludes both of these attitudes which are contrary to the true meaning of mission.

How does this sit with you readers? The Gospel is presented in its entirety in a full structure, and the particulars of the message are delivered in a context of inculturation? Does this have an interesting ring given the approach to the new Roman Missal’s translation? Especially in the context of the new evangelization? Discuss if you wish/if you dare.

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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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