Ecclesiae Sanctae III 18: Collaboration and Study

This section has a lot of meat on which to chew. First, a suggestion that episcopal conferences work across national borders to serve more effectively:

18. Because it is desirable that episcopal conferences in the missions be united in organic groups according to the so-called socio-cultural areas (see ES III 9) the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Ad Gentes 29) should promote such coordinations of episcopal conferences.

It is the function of these conferences, in collaboration with the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith:

(1) To explore methods, even new ones, by which the faithful and the missionary institutes by uniting forces must incorporate themselves into the peoples or groups with whom they live or to whom they are sent (Ad Gentes 10-11), and with whom they must undertake the dialogue of salvation;

(2) To establish study groups to investigate peoples’ ways of thinking about the universe, (people) and (their) attitude towards God, and to give theological consideration to whatever is good and true. (Ad Gentes 22)

Such theological study should provide the necessary foundation for the adaptations which must be made, and which the study groups should investigate. These adaptations should among other things give attention to methods of preaching the Gospel, liturgical forms, the religious life and ecclesiastical legislation. (Ad Gentes 19)

This is easily summed up: know the people. Approaches that work for First World school children, non-believing adults in Western cultures, or what may have seemed to work in ages past might each lead to failure. With the recent resistance to Vatican II in some quarters, seeking the theological good in other faiths and cultures may be hampered.

With regard to perfecting methods of evangelization and catechesis (Ad Gentes 13-14), the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith should promote close cooperation among the higher institutes of pastoral studies.

With regard to liturgical forms, the study groups should submit documents and proposals to the council for the implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

We’ve covered a lot of this in Varietates Legitimae, plus the rites themselves.

As far as the religious condition is concerned (Ad Gentes 18), care should be taken lest more attention be given to exterior forms (such as gestures, dress, the arts, etc.) than to the religious dispositions of the peoples which are to be adopted and the evangelical perfection which is to be assimilated.

Appearances are of exaggerated importance in the West–our culture’s indulgence for style over substance.

(3) To promote at stated times meetings of seminary teachers to adapt study programs and to exchange information, and by conferring with the study groups mentioned above to provide more suitably for modern needs in the training of priests. (Ad Gentes 16).

Conferences of seminary professors: how often do they happen?

(4) To investigate a more suitable method by which personnel (priests, catechists, institutes, etc.) can be distributed in the territory especially to make better provision for the lack of personnel in densely populated places.

As opposed to reassignments in Europe and North America to bolster the sense of entitlement among many Catholics there.

Thoughts?

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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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