EG 118: Faith Not Limited to European Culture

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneSomeone else here remarked a number of weeks ago how Pope Francis seemed to cite documents of bishops’ conferences from around the world, unlike his predecessors.

118. The Bishops of Oceania asked that the Church “develop an understanding and a presentation of the truth of Christ working from the traditions and cultures of the region” and invited “all missionaries to work in harmony with indigenous Christians so as to ensure that the faith and the life of the Church be expressed in legitimate forms appropriate for each culture”.[JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Oceania (22 November 2001), 17] We cannot demand that peoples of every continent, in expressing their Christian faith, imitate modes of expression which European nations developed at a particular moment of their history, because the faith cannot be constricted to the limits of understanding and expression of any one culture.[JOHN PAUL II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia (6 November 1999), 20] It is an indisputable fact that no single culture can exhaust the mystery of our redemption in Christ.

This makes sense, even though I live in a culture that while derived from Europe, has ample assimilation of other positive factors. The measure of discernment is not defined by eurocentrism–after all, some roots of European culture are themselves pre-Christian. And as Pope Francis has mentioned earlier in this section, God made us social beings, and God utilizes how he made us to enlighten us in grace. This concludes the Holy Father’s reflections on “A people of many faces.” Any reflections from the reading public out there?

Evangelii Gaudium is online here.

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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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