Monday, 24 November 2008

Open territory 3

Recognising and acknowledging culture is a necessary element of the New Evangelisation. In para 7 of the Letter "The Church in Oceania" John Paul II speaks of the "implantation of the Church" - evangelisation - the bringing together of faith and culture means precisely, implanting the Church in culture. How can we do this? First of all, the Pope says: "the truth of the Gospel ... is foreign to no one, but at times some sought to impose elements which were culturally alien to the people. There is a need now for careful discernment to see what is of the Gospel and what is not, what is essential and what is less so. Such a task, it must be said, is made more difficult because of the process of colonization and modernization, which has blurred the line between the indigenous and the imported."
Disciples of the Lord then in the New Evangelisation, do not step into a new culture, set up their crucifixes and expect that the people will turn to Christ and believe in him. In the same way, one can't sprinkle some holy water over a baby within a culture that was formally Christian and expect to see a flourishing of the Christian life. The work of evangelisation calls for real discernent on behalf of Catholics so their meeting with a non or formally Christian culture is actually an evangelising encounter, in which real light is shone on those aspects of culture which grace can build on, and in which those aspects of culture which are opposed to the Gospel can be overturned by grace. In this we remember the whole thrust of the Second Vatican Council which has endeavoured to direct the Church into an evangelising dialogue with culture. This is not the moment to speak about how some have tried to use the Council to promote their own agenda for the Church, but rather "in presenting Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Church must respond in new and effective ways to these moral and social questions without ever allowing her voice to be silenced or her witness to be marginalized."

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