Author: Gerald A. Arbuckle, Co-director of the RPD Research Unit, Sydney
When it comes to the implementation of mission, that is, evangelization, the church is confronted by a theological and pastoral problem that has caused much division in the past and continues to have a significant role in dividing the churches today. The various traditions within Christianity do not always agree about how evangelization should relate to the cultures of people. This article examines the Roman Catholic Church as a case study. The first part of the article concentrates on defining terms. The second part provides a brief history of the Catholic Church’s contact with cultures down through the centuries, from relative openness to the inflexibility which characterized the period from the Renaissance to the twentieth century, and on to the re-emergence of inculturation after Vatican II. It will be seen that the identity of the church changes wherever its method of relating to cultures alters.
Culture, Inculturation, Roman Catholic
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