Does multicultural ministry in the US need a reset?

In an essay appearing on the Catholic News Agency (March 2, 2017) website, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, founding president of The Society for Catholic Liturgy and founder editor of the Society’s journal, Antiphon, writes that there are fewer differences in ministering to the diverse ethnic communities than one would think.

Msgr. Mannion distinguishes that while there are differences on the level of cultural customs and practices, on the anthropological level, which anthropologists call “’deep structures’ of cultures’ there are notable and striking similarities.”

He writes, “Consider, for instance, that the cultures just mentioned hold in common many of the following characteristics: a pervasive sense of divine presence in ordinary life; an attachment to place and a closeness to the earth; a strong communal memory; a heroic attitude in the face of suffering and deprivation; a deep consciousness of the home as a holy place; reverence for parents, elders, and ancestors; a closely knit communal life; a well-developed system of group festivity and celebration; and a ritualized response to birth, human transition, and death. I would call these cultures “traditional-communal.”

Msgr. Mannion contends what he describes as “liberal-individualistic” mainstream US Catholic culture is the problem. He goes on to write, “The kind of American Catholicism which is liberal-individualistic is fundamentally incapable of dealing with ethnic and immigrant communities, especially the newer ones. It simply does not understand them and tries in vain to reach across the divide that separates liberal-individualistic cultures from traditional-communal ones.”

He goes on to suggest that if diocesan and parish liturgy programs become less “liberal-individualistic” and discover mainstream Catholicism’s traditional-communal roots, it could become more fully Catholic.

For Msgr. Mannion’s entire CNA essay, click here.