EG 117: Cultural Diversity

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium makes a sound case for the value of diversity above uniformity.

117. When properly understood, cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into the perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity. He builds up the communion and harmony of the people of God. The same Spirit is that harmony, just as he is the bond of love between the Father and the Son.[SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, S. Th. I, q. 39, a. 8 cons. 2: “Without the Holy Spirit who is the bond of both, one cannot understand the connecting unity between the Father and the Son”; cf. I, q. 37, a. 1, ad 3] It is he who brings forth a rich variety of gifts, while at the same time creating a unity which is never uniformity but a multifaceted and inviting harmony. Evangelization joyfully acknowledges these varied treasures which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the Church. We would not do justice to the logic of the incarnation if we thought of Christianity as monocultural and monotonous. While it is true that some cultures have been closely associated with the preaching of the Gospel and the development of Christian thought, the revealed message is not identified with any of them; its content is transcultural. Hence in the evangelization of new cultures, or cultures which have not received the Christian message, it is not essential to impose a specific cultural form, no matter how beautiful or ancient it may be, together with the Gospel. The message that we proclaim always has a certain cultural dress, but we in the Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture, and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelizing zeal.

I would suggest that unity is a quality beyond the ability of human beings to generate. We can aim for a uniformity, but even then it would be a skin deep appearance. God affects a unity among believers, and this is not affected by our favoring one culture over another, no matter how revered, how connected to Christianity, or how attractive by any reasonable judgment.

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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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