Querida Amazonia 36-38: Intercultural Encounter

In the Holy Father’s post-synodal exhortation he looks at “intercultural encounter,” we begin with an acknowledgement of human limitations. In paragraph 36, he outlines the problems of the First World: “consumerism, individualism, discrimination, inequality, and any number of others.” People on the outside looking in notice these. What a thought: so-called primitive peoples can reflect back and assist in our examination of conscience. That has significant meaning for individual Christians. Would we not do well to listen to non-Christians and others in our own lives to help us uncover the dark side of our lives? Pope Francis suggests we may have much to learn by listening to the people exploited by the problems of the First World.

37. Starting from our roots, let us sit around the common table, a place of conversation and of shared hopes. In this way our differences, which could seem like a banner or a wall, can become a bridge. Identity and dialogue are not enemies. Our own cultural identity is strengthened and enriched as a result of dialogue with those unlike ourselves. Nor is our authentic identity preserved by an impoverished isolation. Far be it from me to propose a completely enclosed, a-historic, static “indigenism” that would reject any kind of blending (mestizaje).

An important bit of testimony from St John Paul II and his 1991 document:

A culture can grow barren when it “becomes inward-looking, and tries to perpetuate obsolete ways of living by rejecting any exchange or debate with regard to the truth about man”.[Centesimus Annus 50]

… and from Pope Francis:

(I)nterest and concern for the cultural values of the indigenous groups should be shared by everyone, for their richness is also our own. If we ourselves do not increase our sense of co-responsibility for the diversity that embellishes our humanity, we can hardly demand that the groups from the interior forest be uncritically open to “civilization”.

And from the Aparecida bishops of thirteen years ago:

38. In the Amazon region, even between the different original peoples, it is possible to develop “intercultural relations where diversity does not mean threat, and does not justify hierarchies of power of some over others, but dialogue between different cultural visions, of celebration, of interrelationship and of revival of hope”.[Aparecida 97]


This document is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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