DPPL 92: Further Thoughts on Inculturation

STA altar at night smallThe CDWDS’s concerns here reflect the era 1978-2013, and perhaps some of this language might be tempered if it were being written today. That said, DPPL 92 opens with a genuinely optimistic view:

92. The adaptation or inculturation of a particular pious exercise should not present special difficulties at the level of language, musical and artistic forms, or even of adopting certain gestures. While at one level pious exercises do not concentrate on the essential elements of the sacramental life, at another, it has to be remembered, they are in many cases popular in origin and come directly from the people, and have been formulated in the language of the people, within the framework of the Catholic faith.

Do we presume faith? Good faith on the part of people who utilize forms outside of the liturgy? I would think yes.

The fact that pious exercises and devotions express popular sentiment, does not, however, authorize personalistic or subjective approaches to this material. With due respect for the competence proper to local Ordinaries or the Major Superiors of religious orders in cases involving devotions connected with their Orders, the Conference of Bishops should decide in matters relating to pious exercises widely diffused in a particular country or in a vast region.

The CDWDS is careful to involve people involved in religious life. Many practices might spread beyond the boundaries of any one diocese, if the devotional life is expressed within a broad religious community.

For bishops, the challenge may be less the acts of piety themselves, and the runaway charism of particular leaders.

Great vigilance and a deep sense of discernment are required to ensure that ideas contrary to the Christian faith, or forms of worship vitiated by syncretism, are not insinuated into pious exercises though various forms of language.

Theological issues such as syncretism are possibly better addressed as a large-scale effort. It’s not just pious practices, and it’s not just non-“orthodox” who fall prey to it. Language is perhaps over-criticized as a problem.

It is especially necessary to ensure that those pious exercises undergoing adaptation or inculturation retain their identity and their essential characteristics. In this regard, particular attention must always be given to their historical origin and to the doctrinal and cultic elements by which they are constituted.

Respect for the integrity of what lay people bring to public prayer: this is laudable.

With regard to the question of assuming certain elements from popular piety in the process of inculturating the Liturgy, reference should be made to the relative Instruction already published on the subject by this Dicastery(Cf. Varietates legitimate 45)

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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