Gospel and Africa Meet As "A Great Song of Praise to the Lord"

Cardinal Outlines Triple Challenge of Inculturation in Africa

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa/ROME, NOV. 4, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The inculturation of the Gospel in Africa is a challenge that could respond even to the threat of globalization, said Cardinal Paul Poupard.

The cardinal stated this upon his return from the meeting in Johannesburg of African members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture held to give new impetus to the cultural pastoral program for the continent by reflecting on the theme «One Family of God within the Diversity of Cultures.» The meeting was held from Oct. 27-30,

On this occasion, special attention was given to the evangelization of cultures, with emphasis on questions relating to unity and diversity, the dicastery explained.

Moreover, «in the present context, strongly marked by the phenomenon of globalization, the Church works to promote cultural diversity in the unity of faith in Christ, and the spread of the culture of solidarity and fraternity,» the dicastery added.

Cardinal Poupard, the dicastery’s president, delivered the main lecture at the meeting. «I spoke about inculturation. The greatest challenge in this respect is the internalization of the faith to be able to produce genuinely African fruits, in the communion of catholicity,» he explained on Vatican Radio.

«In the second place, inculturation is simultaneous to evangelization and because of this, the example to follow is Christ’s pedagogy with the Samaritan woman, who had a thirst to satisfy, but Christ was able to lead her from that natural desire to living water,» he added.

«The third point we can make is this internalization of the double commandment of love, made radical in Christ in love of one’s enemies,» always making reference «to the philosophy and wisdom of African peoples,» the cardinal noted.

This process unfolds in a context in which globalization appears «to many as a threat, before which the bishops have stressed the importance of belonging to the Church’s own culture. It is not enough, in fact, to say African culture. It is necessary to say Christian culture lived in an African manner,» he indicated.

«This is necessary to combat what is obviously experienced as a threat, not only economic but also cultural and spiritual,» Cardinal Poupard said.

Moreover, Africa, for its part, can give world culture «precisely this strong sense of belonging to this family of families,» as well as «the sense of the sacred, which is a great sense of God the Creator,» continued the cardinal.

In this connection, having just arrived from South Africa, he added: «I was very impressed by the different Eucharistic celebrations, over which I had the grace to preside, of which the most emblematic were those of Lesotho, historical site of the resistance to apartheid, and Cape Town. Here I found a community of seminarians made up of whites and blacks, perfectly integrated, who celebrated together the wonders of God.»

Cardinal Poupard described the meeting between the Gospel and Africa as «a great song of praise to the Lord.» «At the dawn of the new millennium the Church in Africa has saints and is shepherded by bishops who are 85% African. They have numerous, very numerous priestly and religious vocations and more than 130 million faithful,» he added.

«It was the African bishops themselves who emphasized the action of the Lord’s grace through the missionaries, who at the price of immense sacrifices have been able to take the evangelical invitation, and through so many African Christians who have suffered and continue to suffer for their faith, but always with a great feeling of praise to the Lord,» he said.

The Johannesburg meeting approved three specific projects: a session for seminary formators; the translation into different African languages the local cultural patrimony, especially popular wisdom; and, the first meeting of Catholic cultural centers in Africa.

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