The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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The Catholic Church around the World

Saturday, February 04, 2012
In the coming weeks, members of the Godzdogz team will be sharing their experiences of the Church in different parts of the world, aspart of a new series of posts exploring different expressions of Catholic faith and life from across the globe.

Although individual Dominican friars are ‘sons’ of a particular province, we are members of a worldwide order, and may be called upon to exercise the ministry of preaching outside of our ‘home’ province, for- as our constitutions remind us – the preaching of the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the nations is the duty of the entire order (LCO §108). Although the majority of English Dominicans work in England and Scotland, sons of our province are currently working as far afield as Iceland and the United States, and the Province has maintained a presence in the Caribbean since 1901, with brothers currently assigned to apostolates in Grenada and Barbados. Some of the Godzdogz team are hopeful that a visit to the brethren in the West Indies will feature as part of their formation in the not too distant future!

As members of an Order whose motto is veritas (‘truth’), however, wherever they go, Dominicans are tasked to preach the same Good News of Jesus Christ, the saving message of hope found only in Truth Himself, Jesus Christ. Yet though we confess the “one hope of ourcalling, one faith, one baptism, one Lord, one God and Father of all” (Eph4:4-5), we often do so in remarkably different ways. As Pope Paul VI recognised in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, the preaching of the gospel is not an ‘implantation’ of one culture into another as if it were a foreign body, but a process through which the gospel of Christ ‘takes flesh’ and organic root in the varying social and cultural histories of the nations, without ceasing to be the same Truth proclaimed by the Church throughout the world. The preaching of this same truth, therefore, often takes different forms: different social traditions are reflected in Christian worship, and different cultural imagery and language is necessary to communicate the gospel effectively.

At the same time as this mutual enrichment of Church and cultures, there is often a more challenging dimension to the relationship between the Church and the particular culture it serves. Sadly, not all political regimes grant Christians the legal freedom to practise their faith, a freedom that we enjoy, and often – I suspect – take for granted. Moreover, each local Church faces its own particular challenges and is presented with its own unique opportunities, and as such the local Bishop (acting as Pastor of his Diocese) has considerable leeway to determine pastoral priorities that reflect “the joys and the hopes, the fears and the anxieties” of the people of God in his diocese.

We hope that the series of reflections that follows will reflect some of the joyful colour of the Church’s rich diversity, as well as some of the challenges faced by our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Oliver James Keenan OP


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