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​​​4.1.13.1 Philosophy

The Church believes, lives, celebrates, and prays together as a single universal body that is not bound by any race, nation, way of life, or custom but rather by the unity of faith and fidelity to Catholic doctrine and the common hope for transformation by God's universal grace and mercy.

"An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people's daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the 'smell of the sheep' and the sheep are willing to hear their voice. An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance" (Evangelii Gaudium, 24).

The local church, from the large archdiocese level to local parishes, is composed of people who bring their own family and cultural realities and histories to form the people of God. The beauty of God's creation is the diversity of people who all share the one faith that makes God's presence alive in the world.

Just as all races, ethnicities, and cultures in the world are represented in the population of the United States, so too do they find a home within the Catholic Church. Each group brings its own language, history, customs, rituals, and traditions "for building up the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12). Since persons can only achieve their full humanity by means of culture, the Catholic Church in the United States embraces the rich cultural pluralism of all the faithful, encourages the distinctive identity of each cultural group, and urges mutual enrichment. At the same time, the Catholic Church promotes unity of faith within the multicultural diversity of the people (National Directory for Catechesis, 11.C.1).

The Church is called to be a welcoming community to a steady flow of newcomers, who speak a variety of languages and come from diverse cultures. Paying attention to multicultural diversity has become one of the fundamental characteristics of the archdiocese. The Mission Statement​ for the archdiocese states that "With Christ, we affirm the bonds that unite us. We commit ourselves to remove the barriers that divide people in the large, complex and multicultural society of Southern California." In the initiatives from the 2003 Synod in the archdiocese, the community is specifically called to be attentive to the rich diversity in the church and to encourage active participation of all according to each one's particular gifts.

The Office of Religious Education​ and Catholic school communities are committed to respond to the multicultural diversity of the archdiocese. They see their role as advocates of intercultural catechesis and strongly support parishes and schools in their efforts of ministry and raising their communities' consciousness of the growing needs of the ethnically diverse archdiocese.

4.1.13.2 Goals

"The theology of this multicultural Church is Inculturation Theology, the recognition that faith must become culture, if it is to be fully received and lived" (Towards a Theology of Inculturation, p. xi). Thus the heart of multicultural catechesis is inculturation of the Christian message, a process that brings the transforming power of the Gospel to touch persons in their hearts and cultures at their deepest levels (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F). It involves "listening to the culture of the people for the echo of the word of God" (National Directory for Catechesis, 21.C).

Among the many tasks of inculturation, catechesis needs to:

  • Discover the seeds of the Gospel that may be present in the culture (National Directory for Catechesis, 21.C). This means enabling those being catechized to become more able to explain the faith to others in the culture in which they live and to be able to "give reason for their hope" (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F).

  • Know and respect the essential elements and basic expressions of the culture of the persons to whom catechesis is addressed (National Directory for Catechesis, 21.C). This involves engaging cultural symbols and integrating them with scriptures as well as developing catechesis that taps into popular devotions of cultural groups.

  • Express the need to communicate the Christian message through patterns of thought, history, culture, and experience so that various cultures perceive the good news as addressed to them, in their own uniqueness and concrete situations. This includes inspiring identity and pride in the riches of the cultures in order to bring them forth as an offering of gifts to the larger community, as well as developing and using culturally appropriate catechetical methods, tools, texts, and resources (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F).

  • Bring to those in the dominant culture the other cultures' insights and actions, both as a leaven and challenge. This refers to enhancing the building of the Catholic/Christian community and the integration into the larger society by understanding the Church through respect and appreciation of the people and cultures within, as well as celebrating differences and valuing diversity as part of building cultural awareness.

  • Source a variety of media and draw from a variety of disciplines to communicate and engage in a multicultural dialogue. This entails developing and using culturally appropriate catechetical methods, tools, texts, and resources (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F).

4.1.13.3 Developing Multicultural Catechetical Leaders

Multicultural catechesis invests in developing and nurturing creative talents that mirror the many faces in God's house. It ensures that the archdiocesan cultural makeup is reflected in the formational and leadership program. Multicultural catechesis is informed by those who minister within the individual cultures. Therefore, the following goals have to be seriously considered:

  • Involve persons of various cultures in planning the catechetical mission and "respond to various requirements of diverse cultures" (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F).

  • "Prepare catechists in their native language and cultural situations" (National Directory for Catechesis, 25.F).

  • Provide catechists the opportunity to further develop their own religious education and spiritual formation in a multicultural perspective for an understanding of each culture's worldview, concept of God, and value system.

For more information, please see Pastoral Statements on Multicultural Catechesis, Multicultural Catechesis Resource​s, Resources for Catechesis in the Asian and Pacific Islander Perspective, and Resources for Catechesis in the Black Perspective. See also Cultural Diversity in the Church​ from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.