“Inculturation” and the Culture That is the Church, by George Weigel

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By George Weigel, Posted by Xavier Rynne II, Catholic Herald, 23 October, 2019

Reports and Commentary, from Rome and Elsewhere, on the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region: “New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”

“Inculturation” has been a buzzword throughout the Catholic world – and especially the developing Catholic world – for decades. Rarely has it gotten such a workout, or taken such a beating, as at Synod-2019.

The basic idea of “inculturation” is not hard to grasp: the Church must proclaim the Gospel in a variety of cultural settings, and it’s good evangelical practice to draw what one can from each culture so that the basic kerygmatic proclamation, “Jesus is Lord,” can be “heard” in a given culture.  This practice goes back at least as far as Acts 17. 16-34, St. Paul’s famous encounter on the Areopagus with the great and good of first-century Athens. And while the fruit of that particular encounter was minimal, the “inculturation” of the Gospel has reaped a great harvest over the centuries. Perhaps the most successful example of a thoroughly effective inculturation in Latin America is the tilma of St. Juan Diego with its image of Our Lady of Guadalupe: a manifestly indigenous Mother of God whose vesture is replete with indigenous symbols. (That the Guadalupana has gotten far less attention at Synod-2019 than the “Pachamama” Incan idols that some bold souls took from the Church of S. Maria in Traspontina, conveyed to Gianlorenzo Bernini’s “Angel Bridge” as Castel Sant’Angelo, and tossed into the Tiber says….something. )

Two Popes and a Distinguished Historian. Two weeks ago, I was discussing this business of “inculturation” with a former student now completing doctoral studies in Rome, who asked me if I had ever read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical for the four hundredth anniversary of Columbus’s landing at San Salvador. Not least because Pope Leo is the pivotal figure in my new book, The Irony of Modern Catholic History, I had to admit with some chagrin that I’d not read that particular Leonine work. So my friend passed along a link which, in the spirit of 1 Corinthians 15.3, I now pass along to readers of these LETTERS throughout the Anglosphere: ….

Read more at  https://catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2019/10/23/letters-from-the-synod-2019-october-23/