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Does the Catholic Church respect the gifts of different ethnic groups?

Think back over the travels of Pope John Paul II to get an idea of how many races and cultures call the Catholic Church home. From Nigeria to Cuba, from Lebanon to Canada, the Pope’s many travels show us how many brothers and sisters in Christ we have. And while the heart of the worship in each of these countries is the same, the clothing – whether it’s music, dance or costumes – is often strikingly different.

The same goes for the Church in America. Our nation of immigrants brings together Catholics from all over the world, and each of these traditions brings gifts to Catholic life and worship. Each brings the experiences of a people which, shared around the Lord’s table, is the Body of Christ. How can our Church find new ways to share these gifts? How can our diverse people work together to promote the common good? Perhaps the first step is to learn more about each other. These days we Catholics hear more and more of inculturation, the practice of bringing the Church to life in the culture of a local people. Inculturation is one of the key themes of Vatican II and, more recently, regional Synods, including the 1998 Synod for America. The more we can respect each other’s differences as gifts to the Church, and become more welcoming parishes, the more fully we will be truly catholic, universal people.
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