Editor’s note: Between now and the Archdiocesan Synod, June 7-8, the Catholic Herald will publish summaries, prepared by the Synod Preparatory Commission, of each of the eight background papers that will be discussed at the synod. The complete text of each paper, along with an introduction to the papers, “Discipleship: Our fundamental Catholic Identity, written by Bishop Donald J. Hying, is available at tinyurl.com/synodbackground

Cultural realities

– The Catholic Church is the most ethnically diverse of all the denominations in the U.S.

– On any given Sunday in our archdiocese, Mass is celebrated in English, Spanish, Polish, Malayanam, Vietnamese, Korean, Hmong, Karen, sign language, and a host of other languages.

– Our culture is characterized by individualism, materialism and hyper-segregated communities.

– The growing diversity in the church and society calls us to understand different perspectives of relating to other people, of praying, of being church.

Reflection question

Given these cultural realities, how do we move beyond “hyper-segregated” communities characterized by individualism and materialism?

Theological foundations

– Diversity is integral to the church’s identity and mission – it has been diverse from its inception. 

– Jesus challenged the culture of his day – he was the first and greatest evangelizer.

– Like the people who lived in the time of Jesus, we encounter the Paschal Mystery (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus) from the horizons of our own culture.

– Each culture has unique gifts and traditions that it brings to the church.

Reflection question 

What can we learn from Jesus’ life in regards to embracing diversity and the gifts of various cultures?

Other issues and challenges

– Parishes are called to be welcoming places of education and celebration of faith – a pressing issue is how to equip parishes to more fully welcome and embody diversity. 

– Worship is the foundation of Catholic identity and reflects what we believe – we must be attentive to the diversity that is present (or absent) in those who gathers for worship.

– Cultural diversity demands that leaders in the church be trained with an awareness and appreciation of the many cultural contexts within our faith communities.

– It is important to engage youth and young adults in the life of the mission of the church today and this is especially true as it relates to the various cultures in our archdiocese.

Reflection question

How can our parishes and our worship welcome cultural diversity and be more representative of the cultural diversity that is part of our church and society?