In his post-synodal exhortation Pope Francis writes of inculturation of forms of ministry.
85. Inculturation should also be increasingly reflected in an incarnate form of ecclesial organization and ministry. If we are to inculturate spirituality, holiness and the Gospel itself, how can we not consider an inculturation of the ways we structure and carry out ecclesial ministries? The pastoral presence of the Church in the Amazon region is uneven, due in part to the vast expanse of the territory, its many remote places, its broad cultural diversity, its grave social problems, and the preference of some peoples to live in isolation. We cannot remain unconcerned; a specific and courageous response is required of the Church.
The biggest dollop of courage might be needed to look intently at institutional practices. What is needed for the essence of the mission Christ has entrusted to us. What is needed to retain roots in authentic tradition. No human being or organization has accurate discernment on this. We hold on to things we love but are not necessary. Our vision is always imperfect.
I was thinking about an episode related in church news last week: a bishop approached Pope Francis about giving sacramental absolution. His diocese’s canon lawyers were trying to dissuade him. The Holy Father said, “Bishop, do your duty!” Our first duty, bishop or otherwise, is to the mission of Jesus.
One thing everyone recognizes is a problem:
86. Efforts need to be made to configure ministry in such a way that it is at the service of a more frequent celebration of the Eucharist, even in the remotest and most isolated communities. At Aparecida, all were asked to heed the lament of the many Amazonian communities “deprived of the Sunday Eucharist for long periods of time”.[Aparecida Document 100e]
And this too, accompanying people from the inside:
There is also a need for ministers who can understand Amazonian sensibilities and cultures from within.
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