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It is a real pleasure to present these web pages on the work of the Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church and its Secretariat. The mandate of our Committee is to be present on behalf of the bishops to the many cultures, ethnicities and races that today constitute the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The goal is to encourage the inclusion and fuller participation of all God's People in the life and ministry of the Church.
On these pages you will find information, resources and inspiration regarding the rich and growing diversity of U.S. Catholics and how that remarkable diversity is being tapped. Today as ever the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and promote the life and dignity of each and every human being has much to do with insight into cultures. When the Church preaches and teaches the object of these efforts is always the human heart, the core values and meanings that move people to be and live as they do.
Throughout the United States we experience a profound demographic shift as Hispanics, Asians, Caribbean people, Africans and many other communities of non-European origin are on the rise. Today as ever the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and promote the life and dignity of each and every human being has much to do with insight into cultures. Catholic parishes are moving from monocultural patterns to ones we call "shared," that is, to parishes in which more than one language, racial or cultural group seek to celebrate the Eucharist and embody Christian community.
The diverse groups are made up of people at many different levels of acculturation to the American experience. While the Church has served as a conduit for this process of adaptation throughout U.S. history, the bishops today are very clear about the fact that the Church's mission is not to Americanize but to evangelize. This means respecting the languages, customs and style whereby particular cultures live their Catholic faith while seeking to form their emerging Catholic identity in light of the Word of God and Church teaching. Today this happens in the context of some strong, negative influences from contemporary culture and secular society. But the Church's response to these circumstances is not just negative or positive. It must be balanced and discerned.
The New Evangelization proposed by Pope John Paul II and further pursued by Pope Benedict XVI involves finding a fit between Catholic identity for today and the diverse cultural identities of the human family. That is why the U.S. bishops have set as one of their priorities the recognition of cultural diversity.
May your journey through these pages provide valuable information and resources for advancing the priority to evangelize cultures and thereby transform human hearts and the world by the sheer power of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
—Father Allan F. Deck, S.J.
Former Executive Director
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