This article explores chapters 10-11 of the Directory for Catechesis.
Catechesis at the Service of the Inculturation of the Faith
At the press conference to present the new Directory for Catechesis (2020), Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, stated, “The need for a new directory was born of the process of inculturation which characterizes catechesis in a particular way and which, especially today, demands a special focus.” The preface sets forth the reasons for producing a third catechetical directory for the universal Church at this particular time, namely the publication of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and the dual phenomena of the digital culture and the globalization of culture (see DC, Preface, p. 4). Given this context, then, it is not surprising that the Directory for Catechesis devotes two chapters to the interaction of catechesis and culture.
Chapter eleven is titled “Catechesis at the Service of the Inculturation of the Faith.” After a brief but important introductory paragraph, the chapter contains two sections: “Nature and Goal of Inculturation of the Faith,” and “Local Catechisms.”
The introductory paragraph retrieves a description of the process of inculturation from St. Paul VI’s Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. There immediately follows a parallel citation from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium. These two perspectives on the process of the inculturation of the faith set the context for the chapter’s exploration of the dynamic interaction of faith and culture.
On the one hand, Evangelii Nuntiandi insists on the inculturation of the Gospel message “without the slightest betrayal of its essential truth.” And on the other, Evangelii Gaudium highlights the “new and eloquent expressions” of the Gospel message that are generated in the process of inculturation. The former emphasizes that which is given: the unchanging truth of the Gospel message in every age. The latter emphasizes that which is received: the Gospel message accommodated to the particular circumstances of a culture.