Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Liturgical inculturation caused growth of the Church in Asia and Africa?!

I went over to the liturgically liberal blog, Pray Tell Blog where I found blogger Rita Ferrone praising Anscar Chupungco and his talk in Australia criticizing the Reform of the Reform.

Fr. Michael McDonald of Southern Orders is one of the regular commentors of the blog and how he put things in perspective.  I have joined in the fray to tell Ferrone of the real situation of Chupungco's inculturation work here in the Philippines and how it 'gloriously' worked wonders in evangelizing especially the Muslims in Mindanao.

Here is our exchange: Ferrone's responses are in italics.

“The greatest growth—astounding growth, in fact—in the post-Vatican II church has been in Asia and Africa. Would this have happened had these regions not enjoyed the benefit a liturgy that was indeed clear, understandable, and expressed in the language and idioms of their own cultures? Of course not…” Rita, I almost fell out of my seat after reading this! The missionaries in Mindanao which is where the majority of Muslims live made a lot of conversion in the years BEFORE Vatican II. Now, for example, the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo after if was erected in 1958, still remains the same. Why? Barely any converts to Catholicism. What caused it? Priests do not work towards conversion but towards peaceful coexistence, liturgies being planned with so much inculturation (Muslim dance included). So did liturgical inculturation work effectively of bringing the men and women towards the Church? NO WAY. How did I know? I used to work there for so many years and know things…

Eugene, no need to fall out of your seat.
You seem to think that because Anscar Chupungco is from the Philippines and because he is an expert in inculturation, this means (A) that the Philippines is our primary example of inculturation, and (B) that if evangelization isn’t booming there, it means that inculturation has been a failure.
Neither of these things have I either said or implied. Chupungco is a world figure (of whom Filippino Catholics may be justly proud), teaching in Rome. What I am talking about is world data, broken down by continents, not by nations. Come, take a look.
From 1978 to 2000, the Catholic population in Asia increased by 69.83% (especially growing in the Middle East). In Africa during that same period, the Catholic population increased 137.44%.

From 2000 to 2007, the Catholic population in Africa grew by almost 28%; in Asia, about half of that figure.
These are impressive numbers. They exceed the birth rate. Why is this growth happening if liturgical inculturation is driving people away?

“These are impressive numbers. They exceed the birth rate. Why is this growth happening if liturgical inculturation is driving people away?.” So you indeed are implying that liturgical inculturation helped in Asia and Africa even though in your earlier reply you said that you were not implying “that if evangelization isn’t booming there, it means that inculturation has been a failure.” So which is which? Did liturgical inculturation helped in the numbers or were you just assuming? I mentioned the sorry state of Mindanao and how inculturation worked wonders there. I did not read it. I experienced it. And for us Filipinos being proud of Fr. Chupungco? Maybe the new and younger priests who are “remodelling” 70s churches, who are back wearing laced albs and surplices are an indication that Chupungco’s liturgy is losing ground in the Philippines. Call it nostalgia. I call it signs of the times. Now that is updating.

Eugene, you seem to think that the Philippines is the only country in Asia. If you are too confused to make sense out of what I said above, reread it. It’s very clear.

Wow, Rita. Nice way to engage the topic. Where in my response did I say that the Philippines is the only country in Asia. I agree that you did not specifically mention the Philippines but you were generalizing the effects of inculturation by quoting the numbers and I had to tell you and remind your readers that that is not the case in the Philippines. The growth of the Church in Asia and Africa cannot be attributed to liturgical inculturation but you asked “Why is this growth happening if liturgical inculturation is driving people away?.” You are misleading. I am telling everyone that liturgical inculturation is destroying the work of evangelization here especially with Muslims. You were not rebutting my statements because obviously you do not know the real situation here in the country. Do not quote the numbers and do not even ask the question “Why is this growth happening if liturgical inculturation is driving people away?” if you do not intend to insinuate.


I have had similar exchanges with people who will beat around the bush and would not even engage the topic at hand when you give them actual experiences of people despising what goes on at Mass.  They shove down your throats the innovations they have in mind for the next Mass.  They'll tell you to stop questioning their views because they have such and such a degree, they know their liturgical history.

This is a classic example of active participation in their own terms.  When you actively participate in discussions such as these, they shut you off and make you appear stupid.

By the way, I do not intend to answer whatever she writes back UNLESS she confronts my question of why she is insinuating that the growth of the Church in Asia and Africa is due to liturgical inculturation.

Liturgical inculturation is not bad per se.  Even if you cannot find it in the Vatican 2 Sacrosanctum Concilium, it has been going on for centuries.  The Spanish missionaries who Christianized the Philippines knew this so well.  They do not need the dissenting views of Chupungco to do this.  They used inculturation to drive the people closer to the Church.  Classic examples?

For more info, click Sinulog and Obando Fertility Rites...

These rituals were once pagan rituals but the Spanish missionaries turned what was pagan and appealing to the natives and made it into a Catholic feast! They did not even think of what to do with the Mass like what most liturgists of our day would do. This is the best way to do inculturation.

Leave the Mass alone!

1 comment:

  1. The Anglican Communion shows us the TRUE REASON why many of the African and Asian churches are flourishing and growing. First, these churches HELD ON TO THE APOSTOLIC TRADITION while inculturating the positive in African and Asian religious traditions. Second, these churches have largely PRESERVED THE ANGLICAN BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER.

    In the West, the Apostolic Tradition and observance of the moral teachings as found in Holy Scripture has been broken through innovations like women's ordination and gay marriage. The Anglican Churches in the West are fast emptying.