Aparecida 477-478: Papal Support For Cultures

Saint John Paul certainly had a high regard for culture. Count that as due to his experience in the performing arts, or his stature as a philosopher, or his connections with young people during his career as a priest.

477. The V Conference in Aparecida views positively and with true empathy the different forms of culture present in our continent. Faith is only adequately professed, understood, and lived when it makes its way deeply into the cultural substrate of a people. (Cf. John Paul II, Speech to participants at the World Congress of the General Movement of Cultural Action, January 16, 1982)

Would you agree with this theme of his speech? It seems to lie beyond the application of the human intellect and will alone as a response to God’s grace.

Thus the full importance of culture for evangelization becomes plain. For the salvation brought by Jesus Christ must be light and strength for all the yearnings, joyful or painful situations, and questions present in the respective cultures of peoples. The encounter of faith with cultures purifies them, enables them to develop their potentialities, and enriches them. For they all ultimately seek the truth, which is Christ (John 14:6).

It is likely that the point of disagreement between Catholics might be the forms of cultural expression that are able to be “purified” or “enriched.” Further difficulty is when people outside of the cultures of the Americas south of the US attempt to make judgments. Are such persons qualified, having no direct experience of Latin American or Caribbean culture? And if such persons have no roots, do they have a serious stake in the discussion?

Pope Benedict supports this nod to culture:

478. With the Holy Father, we give thanks that the Church “helping Christian believers to live their faith with joy and coherence,” through the history of this continent, has created and fostered culture: “Faith in God has animated the life and culture of these nations for more than five centuries.” This reality has been expressed in art, music, literature, and above all, in the religious traditions and in the peoples’ whole way of being, united as they are by a shared history and a shared creed that give rise to a great underlying harmony, despite the diversity of cultures and languages. (Benedict XVI, Introductory Address 1.) 

It’s an eminently pragmatic approach. Has culture helped? Can fruits be discerned? The Church itself has encouraged and nourished expressions of culture, not just in the realm of liturgy, sacred art, or the architecture of churches. It goes beyond that.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s