The Rupture of Inculturation?March 9, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: A. E. Orobator, Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator SJ, AIDS, Cardinal Rode, Catholic Church, Catholic Church in Africa, Catholic Church in Slovenia, Catholic Church in the Global South, Catholic liturgy, Catholicism, Franc Cardinal Rode, inculturation, Investigations of American Catholic Sisters, Msgr. Guido Marini, Papacy, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Reform of Catholic liturgy, Refugees, Rode, SJ, Slovenia
In my last post, I held forth about a talk by Cardinal Rode, head of the Vatican office behind the current investigations of American Catholic sisters. I was struck by his use of the word “rupture” to describe the “wrong” interpretation of Vatican II. Never in my life have I heard anyone but Cardinal Rode (et al) describe Vatican II as a rupture. Event, yes. Paradigm shift, yes. Rupture? Never.
I am also struck by the conclusion of the cardinal’s talk, where, to explain what gives him hope for the future of religious life, he recounts the thunder of applause that greeted a talk he gave just after the election of John Paul II in 1978 in which he criticized the communist regime in Slovenia. What gave Rode and his listeners courage to confront falsehood, we learn, was fidelity to the new pope. Just so, if we are to reform religious life, we must adhere to what John Paul II taught yesterday and what Benedict is teaching today. (p. 21).
Never mind the curiosity of using an event that occurred a third of a century ago under a regime that collapsed twenty years ago in a country most Americans couldn’t find on the map if their lives depended on it to conclude a talk in Boston Massachusetts in 2008. Consider instead the spectacle of using such a Eurocentric story to illustrate fidelity to John Paul II.
I am not a big JPII fan. But one thing I do give John Paul credit for is his understanding of the critical place of the Global South in the future of the church. So if we’re confronting a rupture here, it’s one between this profound insight by John Paul II and Benedict’s fixation on Europe, its secularization, its schisms, its ideal past.
One story about a talk in Slovenia in 1978 may seem like thin evidence on which to argue that the current papacy is oblivious to the future of the church. But to get the whole picture, shift your attention now to Vatican efforts to reform the liturgy. In an article in NCRonline, John L. Allen reports on comments by the papal liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini. Msgr. Morini has said that the pope will be patient in reforming the liturgy; nothing will be forced on the church, at least not yet. At a conference in Rome, though, the pope’s liturgist did seem to call into question some Vatican II liturgical reforms,–among them, active participation by the laity in the liturgy (!!) and “greater ‘inculturation,’ meaning adjusting the church’s rites to reflect local cultures.”
Now you may have noticed that the word “inculturation” doesn’t figure massively in discussions of liturgy in the US. It is used frequently, however, in discussions of the church in the Global South. And when Catholics in Africa and Asia and Latin America use the term, they aren’t just referring to drumming and dancing at Mass. They’re talking about the reconfiguration of Catholicism by their cultures. For an especially compelling example of this, see From Crisis to Kairos: The Mission of the Church in the Time of HIV/AIDS, Refugees, and Poverty by Nigerian Jesuit theologian A. E. Orobator (Paulines Publications Africa 2005).
The people Father Orobator writes about don’t seem awfully focused on fidelity to the pope. For them, their faith in Jesus and the Gospel is what enables them to survive and keep their brothers and sisters alive in the face of war, destitution and epidemics. Let’s pray that the profound role the church plays in their survival doesn’t get ruptured anytime soon.