Monday, December 19, 2011

Inculturation and Evangelization

A research institute here in Korea had an academic meeting on evangelization and inculturation in China, Japan and Korea. The Peace Weekly gave a brief summary of the meeting. 

Priest-professor from China said that China continues to work to reform and be open. The issue of religious freedom remains about the same, with the government still in control. The rapid economic development of China has widened the gap between  rich and poor, giving rise to corruption and many other harmful side effects. Unfortunately, these are also seen within the church.

In many areas of the country, the Church functions differently. In some areas preaching is allowed even in the streets; in some farming areas they can have processions once or twice a year; in certain dioceses the young are volunteering for church work; and in other areas you are not allowed to do anything outside the church building.

Progress of the Church in China will depend on bishops and priests taking a more active part in evangelization; the Christians have to be awakened to become more active; the different groups in the parishes have to get involved in their work so the surrounding society will take notice; and the Church has to become more involved in helping the poor in society.

The professor from Japan said that the Church in Japan is not expected to grow very much. The structures of Shintoism and esoteric Buddhism permeate all society. Catholicism is seen as a cult, and as a foreign religion. 

Traditional Japanese see it as something outside their world of interest, and many have a negative feeling toward all religions, seeing them as aggressive and corrupt, and using brainwashing techniques to gain members, according to the professor.

Acculturating, making use of the Japanese culture, and having a non-verbal approach to evangelizing is what is demanded. Although the Catholic presence in the country is weak, we will have in ten years a Japanese theology. But 30 years from now no one knows what the situation will be--the Church may even be extinct in the country.

In Korea, the priest-professor mentions some of the problems facing the Church: Authoritarianism of the leaders in the church; large parishes and little contact with the Christians; poverty of the spiritual life, lack of inner maturity making for non-practicing Christians; the alienation of the poor; the lack of efforts in  inculturation and the emphasis on getting more people into the church and not enough concern for the evangelization process. The we-can-do-mentality is in vogue; it is more important than making plans and study. Evangelization means to give the message to others but there is also the personal evangelization of the self. There is a need for an integral harmony in evangelizing, sharing not only material goods but the spiritual gifts as well.

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