Querida Amazonia 70-72: Paths of Inculturation in the Amazon Region

We look at paths of inculturation in the Amazon region in paragraphs 70 through 74. Let’s look at three today:

70. For the Church to achieve a renewed inculturation of the Gospel in the Amazon region, she needs to listen to its ancestral wisdom, listen once more to the voice of its elders, recognize the values present in the way of life of the original communities, and recover the rich stories of its peoples. In the Amazon region, we have inherited great riches from the pre-Columbian cultures. These include “openness to the action of God, a sense of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, the sacred character of human life and esteem for the family, a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility in common work, the importance of worship, belief in a life beyond this earth, and many other values”.[Santo Domingo Document 17]

The “Santo Domingo Document” was produced by the 1992 meeting of Latin American bishops, the one that preceded Aparecida (2007). There are values to be found in pre-Christian cultures. Thomas Aquinas certainly thought so, incorporating pagan Greek philosophy that rather soon was affirmed as an essential piece of western theology. Pope Francis affirms some cultural aspects that would seem to be rich and ethical compared to many “Christian” nations.

71. In this regard, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Region express the authentic quality of life as “good living”. This involves personal, familial, communal and cosmic harmony and finds expression in a communitarian approach to existence, the ability to find joy and fulfillment in an austere and simple life, and a responsible care of nature that preserves resources for future generations. The aboriginal peoples give us the example of a joyful sobriety and in this sense, “they have much to teach us”.[Evangelii Gaudium 198] They know how to be content with little; they enjoy God’s little gifts without accumulating great possessions; they do not destroy things needlessly; they care for ecosystems and they recognize that the earth, while serving as a generous source of support for their life, also has a maternal dimension that evokes respect and tender love. All these things should be valued and taken up in the process of evangelization.[Cf. VITTORIO MESSORI-JOSEPH RATZINGER, Rapporto sulla fede, Cinisello Balsamo, 1985, 211-212]

What is our path forward then?

72. While working for them and with them, we are called “to be their friends, to listen to them, to speak for them and to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them”.[Evangelii Gaudium 198] Those who live in cities need to appreciate this wisdom and to allow themselves to be “re-educated” in the face of frenzied consumerism and urban isolation. The Church herself can be a means of assisting this cultural retrieval through a precious synthesis with the preaching of the Gospel. She can also become a sign and means of charity, inasmuch as urban communities must be missionary not only to those in their midst but also to the poor who, driven by dire need, arrive from the interior and are welcomed. In the same way, these communities can stay close to young migrants and help them integrate into the city without falling prey to its networks of depravity. All these forms of ecclesial outreach, born of love, are valuable contributions to a process of inculturation.

Pope Francis’ post-synodal exhortation can be checked on the hyperlink, and is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Querida Amazonia. 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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s