Where is inculturation theology leading us? Francis defends the model of inculturation against impositions on indigenous peoples

The Pope resumes his cycle of catechesis dedicated to the passion for evangelisation through the apostolic zeal of believers like Saint Juan Diego of Guadalupe.

After last week's break, due to the proximity of the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Pope Francis has resumed his cycle of catechesis on the passion for evangelisation through the apostolic zeal of believers. In particular, he focused his reflection in the general audience on the Indian Saint Juan Diego, the messenger of the Virgin of Guadalupe. He also asked intensely for prayers for the victims, such as the missing children, of the "cruel" war in Ukraine.

The path of inculturation

"In Mexico - as in Lourdes and Fatima - Mary appeared to a humble and simple person, to an Indian called Juan Diego, and in this way she spread her message to all God's faithful people. She proclaims Jesus in the way of inculturation, that is, through the language and culture of the natives, and with her maternal closeness she manifests to all her children the love and consolation of her Immaculate Heart," the Pope pointed out. In the past, however, "instead of the path of inculturation, too often the hasty path of transplanting and imposing pre-established models has been taken, disrespecting the indigenous peoples". "The Virgin of Guadalupe, on the other hand, appears dressed in the clothes of the natives, speaks their language, welcomes and loves the local culture: she is Mother and under her mantle every child finds a place," he said.

Francis highlighted Juan Diego's difficulties in being Mary's messenger because "he had to face misunderstandings, difficulties and unforeseen events". "This teaches us that in order to proclaim the Gospel it is not enough to bear witness to the good, but sometimes also to know how to suffer evil, with patience and constancy, without fear of conflict. In those difficult moments, let us invoke Mary, our Mother, who always helps us, encourages us and guides us towards God," the Pontiff stressed. "There is always the risk of a certain amount of giving up in the proclamation: one thing does not go well and one gets discouraged and perhaps takes refuge in one's own certainties, in small groups and in some intimate devotions. Our Lady, on the other hand, at the same time as she consoles us, makes us move forward and thus makes us grow, like a good mother who, following in the footsteps of her son, launches him into the challenges of the world," he said.

Francis also asked "the Lord to help and strengthen especially mothers and grandmothers, who are the first messengers of the Gospel to their children and grandchildren". For, the Pope stressed, "the Gospel is transmitted in the mother tongue" and, he added, "it is communicated, as Mary shows, in simplicity: Our Lady always chooses the simple, on the hill of Tepeyac in Mexico as in Lourdes and Fatima: speaking to them, she speaks to each one, in a language suitable for all, understandable, like that of Jesus".