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What's New and Key Documents
NEW! The Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church Spring/Summer 2019 newsletter, One Church Many Cultures: The Good News of Cultural Diversity. This resource covers new initiatives, programs, news, and much more!
News & Events
Approved by the U.S. bishops during their Fall 2018 General Assembly, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism asks us to recall that we are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God. Read the full text and check out the educational resources and parish resources that were created to accompany the pastoral letter against racism. Order your copy by visiting the USCCB Store.
Approved by the U.S. bishops during their Spring 2018 General Assembly, Encountering Christ in Harmony: A Pastoral Response to Our Asian and Pacific Island Brothers and Sisters will guide the Catholic Church in the United States in addressing the pastoral needs of Asian and Pacific Island communities and provide a framework for dioceses and parishes. Order your copy by visiting the USCCB Store.
Study on Cultural Diversity Displays Catholic Church's Growing Multicultural Parish Population. Check out the study!
The Executive Director's Corner is a monthly blog from the desk of the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church.
Christ Is Alive, And He Wants Young People Who Are Also Fully Alive!
“Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!” With these simple but powerful words Pope Francis begins his apostolic exhortation to the young people of the world, to those who minister among them, and to the entire People of God.
Christus Vivit! is a beautiful and effective kerygmatic proclamation of the Good of News of salvation to young people and to the Church, an invitation to remember that Jesus, always young, is the source of their life and of the eternal youthfulness of the Church’s message and mission in the world. It is also an invitation to reflect on the traits and qualities, hopes and expectations that are proper of the young age, and to not let them go to waste by taking “an early retirement” from life. (cf. CV 143)
Beginning with a recount of relevant passages in Scripture, the Holy Father encourages us to remember what the Word of God has to say about young people. Quoting St. Irenaeus, he reminds us that Jesus is “young among the young to be an example for the young and to consecrate them to the Lord” (22), therefore, inviting them to model their lives after Him so that they can be fully alive. “Every young person who feels called to a mission in this world is invited to hear the Father speaking those same words within his or her heart: “You are my beloved child.” (25), the Pope says referring to the scene of the baptism of the Lord.
He encourages us to learn from Mary --the young woman of Nazareth, the “bearer of a promise,” the “great guardian of hope,” the “woman of strength who uttered her ‘yes’, who supports and accompanies, protects and embraces”—"how to say ‘yes’ to the stubborn endurance and creativity of those who, undaunted, are ever ready to start over again.” (45)
Francis also offers us a selection of young saints’ lives to draw inspiration from. “The heart of the Church is also full of young saints who devoted their lives to Christ, many of them even to dying a martyr’s death. They were precious reflections of the young Christ; their radiant witness encourages us and awakens us from our lethargy. The Synod pointed out that “many young saints have allowed the features of youth to shine forth in all their beauty, and in their day they have been real prophets of change. Their example shows what the young are capable of, when they open themselves up to encounter Christ”. (49) Far from the idyllic images sometimes presented to us, these young Christians were real people with very real sorrows, afflictions and temptations, who nonetheless discovered themselves beloved by Jesus and made a conscious choice to put all their trust in him. I especially appreciated the diversity of ethnic backgrounds, geographical locations, and time in history in which these young saints lived. They represent —and invite us to keep ever present— the “catholicity” of the Church, the importance of recognizing the holy men and women of every race, language and culture, but also the fact that they belong to the Church universal and, therefore, are models of faith for every Christian, anywhere in the world, in every time and age.
I am always amazed by the Holy Father’s ability to synthetize big and deep theological truths in the simplest of terms. Chapter Four on the “Great Message for All Young People,” is a perfect example of this. In sum, dear young people: God is love, Christ saves you, He is alive! (and wants you fully alive!) and his Spirit gives you life. Amazing! Every religion teacher, catechist, preacher and seminary professor, please take note.
Those in pastoral ministry know well that knowledge of Scripture and Church teaching needs to be accompanied by a full awareness of the realities that young people --or any people we are called to minister to—face, if our pastoral care is to be effective and those teachings meaningful in their lives. Following, the example of the Master on the road to Emmaus, we are encouraged to meet young people where they are. Jesus comes to the side of the road when the disciples are at their lowest point, moving away from Jerusalem, saddened by the events that just took place there, having lost all hope. The one in whom they had put all their hopes and trust has been abruptly and violently taken away from them. By attentively listening to and dialoging with young people about their sorrows and fears, hopes and joys, and illuminating those realities and experiences in light of Scripture and Tradition as we walk with them, our hope is that they may invite Jesus in and recognize him as Lord in the “breaking of the bread.” The whole experience should lead them and us to become his missionary disciples, who take off in a rush even as it is getting dark, to give testimony.
In Christus Vivit, Pope Francis helps us to recognize the paths that are proper of youth, and to not being afraid of fully embracing them and taking risks. He also warns of the dangers that afflict that age, particularly those that seek to separate young people from their roots, their families, their faith, and the culture and traditions that make them who they are. He challenges young people to not allow themselves “to be uprooted”, to develop a relationship with the elders and to listen to their wisdom, even when recognizing that they are called to live out their mission in the present day and age, and to express their faith in new, creative and courageous ways.
One final thought on synodality. The extensive quoting of the final document of the Synod on Young People demonstrates that Pope Francis listened carefully and studied the recommendations. By making those observations his --in many cases verbatim-- he also elevates them as magisterial teaching, thus enshrining the collective wisdom and discernment of the synod fathers and the young people and ministers whom they consulted in a pontifical text. The Holy Father steers the entire Church in this direction. He expects a pastoral care that is synodal and in which the young people themselves are agents of youth ministry. “Certainly, they need to be helped and guided, but at the same time left free to develop new approaches, with creativity and a certain audacity. (203)
“Youth ministry has to be synodal; it should involve a “journeying together” that values “the charisms that the Spirit bestows in accordance with the vocation and role of each of the Church’s members, through a process of co-responsibility...” (206) “In this way, by learning from one another, we can better reflect that wonderful multifaceted reality that Christ’s Church is meant to be. She will be able to attract young people, for her unity is not monolithic, but rather a network of varied gifts that the Spirit ceaselessly pours out upon her, renewing her and lifting her up from her poverty.” (207)
The mandate of the Committee of Cultural Diversity in the Church, and its corresponding Secretariat, is to be present on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference 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 by building up their Catholic identity in a spirit of unity in diversity.
Throughout the United States we experience a profound demographic shift as Hispanics, Asians, Africans, Caribbean people, 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 mono-cultural 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. For ministers and pastoral workers to be effective in this diverse environment, the right knowledge, attitudes and skills need to be developed.
Our Intercultural Competencies page explains the five competencies that were defined by the U.S. bishops in making “Recognition of Cultural Diversity in the Church” one of their priorities. The manual Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers has been developed and can be found online or obtained in print from USCCB Publishing. Regional trainings on the competencies are being scheduled at this time. Visit the Intercultural Competency site often for updates. If interested in hosting or organizing a training, please contact Yolanda Taylor-Burwell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-541-3152.
The Secretariat of Cultural Diversity is also looking for opportunities to partner with Catholic colleges and universities, and other institutions of higher education to disseminate the competency guidelines. Contact the Secretariat’s executive director, Mar Muñoz-Visoso, for information: email@example.com or 202-541-3350. A study of “Best Practices in Shared Parishes” for pastors and their teams also is forthcoming. Under the title “So That They All May Be One,” this resource was developed in consultation with and from the experience of nearly 20 pastors of multicultural/shared parishes from around the country.
Just as with the first evangelization, the New Evangelization compels us to go and make disciples of all nations. In the United States of America we do not need to go too far to find people “of all nations.” That’s our blessing and our challenge.
Mar Muñoz-Visoso, MTS
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