Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Clerical Inculturation

The Amazon Synod. Do we care? Perhaps a little, but there are more pressing matters for Catholics, like the impending feast of an Apostle in two days and the gradual winding down of the liturgical season. It is perhaps worth saying something about the Amazonia Extravaganza, but other more commentators more competent in worrying will do that for me.

We hear from bishops of the Amazon with German names who recount the horrors of Christendom in that region. We have civilized these people by getting them to desist from human sacrifice, so logically they may begin to demand the same things post-Modern German bishops demand. Right?

Only if the Amazon is the Latino foto of the German Church. Why is, that after many decades of targeted missionary work, the Amazon still does not have their own education system but even their own bishop? The region has gone from a high-volume Catholic missionary zone to the former-home of urbanized and Protestantized ex-Natives. Such obsolescence cannot be attributed merely to the insufficiency of clerical numbers. It must be attributed to the insufficiency of the clergy there in general.

One priest remarked in a conversation that "Wherever missionaries are not making zealous converts, it is because they are morally compromised that the people know it." What a contrast to the former Archbishop of Dakar and Apostolic Delegate to French Africa, Msgr. Lefebvre. Say what you will of the FSSPX and their aliturgical ways, he was the most successful missionary bishop of our times. In a few decades he baptized tens of thousands of people personally, founded two seminaries, initiated numerous religious orders into his diocese, and built a full cathedral. By the time he transferred from Dakar to the bishopric of Tulles he left behind an independent diocese with a completely indigenous clergy. There is inculturation.

Sincerity and zeal can be misdirected, as they would occasionally be later in Msgr. Lefebvre's life, but one cannot dispute that those traits served him well as a missionary and brought many to Christ. Would that the kraut bishops of the Amazon learn from such a man.

1 comment:

  1. "It must be attributed to the insufficiency of the clergy there in general."

    And it really is hard to shake this conclusion, the more you learn about the (collapsing) state of Catholicism in Brazil generaly, and the Amazon particularly. A couple weeks back, in fact, Sandro Magister published a commentary from one missionary to the Amazon who had harsh first-hand observations about how European missionaries had actually managed to de-Catholicize entire areas:

    "I visited a diocese, where 95% of the population were Catholics in the early 1980s; today they are 20%. I remember the comment of one of the European missionaries who systematically "dis-evangelized" the region: "We do not favour superstition, but human dignity". That says it all.

    "The Church in some places has turned into a great services manager (health, education, promotional, advocacy ...), but little in the mother of faith."

    All of which in turn recalls the old aphorism about Latin American Catholicism: "The Church opted for the poor, and the poor opted for the Pentecostals." A Church that refashions itself into an agency for social work and social activism will never fulfull the deep human longings for the supernatural and the divine in the souls it meets, and it is inevitable that those souls will go somewhere else to seek it. And even now, men like Bishop Krautler simply do not understand *why.* The Catholic clergy themselves have mainly brought it about. Insufficient, indeed.