New Cultural Diversity In The Church Secretariat Formed
WASHINGTON – With the beginning of the year the U.S. Bishops have established a new Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church. The new secretariat provides staffing to one of the largest standing committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, chaired by Archbishop Josť H. Gomez of San Antonio, TX.
"It is my hope that our committee will clearly articulate the catholicity, the universality of the message of the Gospel and the mission of the Church," Archbishop Gomez said. "We are blessed to live in a country that is enriched by people of many cultures. This committee will work collaboratively with our brother bishops to enhance their awareness of how this diversity can help shape their ministries by bringing all Catholics into a fuller participation in the life of the Church."
The Cultural Diversity Secretariat will focus on the ministries to Hispanic Catholics, African American Catholics, Asian and Pacific Islander Catholics, Native American Catholics, African Catholics, and the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers.
"The Catholic Church is an expert in all kinds of diversity. That's what it means to be 'catholic' or universal. In an age of globalization, with its pattern of instant communication and ongoing migration, the Church is challenged to find ways to minister both to newcomers and those with deep roots in the United States. This includes every racial and ethnic group, immigrant and person on the move," said Jesuit Father Allan Figueroa Deck, executive director of the new secretariat.
Father Deck said that the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity seeks to support pastors and lay leadership as they search for the most effective ways to assist people in their local areas. "A one-size-fits-all approach is often not helpful," he said, while noting that ethnic and cultural ministries, specially, need to be tailored to the particular realities of the people they serve.
After decades of experience with Hispanic and African American offices, the USCCB decided that bringing culturally and ethnically diverse groups under one umbrella was helpful at to promote dialogue and greater efficiency in serving all groups.
After the Bishops' November 2007 meeting, Archbishop Gomez appointed chairmen for the five sub-committees that make up the full standing Committee on Cultural Diversity: for the Sub-Committee on Hispanic Affairs, Bishop Richard J. Garcia of Monterey, CA; for African American Affairs, Bishop Martin D. Holley, Auxiliary Bishop of Washington; for Asian and Pacific Affairs, Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, for Native American Affairs, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M., Cap. of Denver; and for the Sub-Committee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees and Travelers, Bishop John R. Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.
"In the spirit of Encuentro 2000, we pledge to help, in any way we can, to bring the people of these many cultures together to work and live as one family, always recognizing the value that each brings to the Church's mission, and respecting the importance of each culture's unique expression of faith. This will allow the Church to truly benefit from that diversity as we minister to each other. I hope that our work will help the USCCB, all Bishops and all Catholics to accept and love our cultural diversity, our catholicity," said Archbishop Gomez.
Father Deck expressed his enthusiasm in facing the task ahead.
"I am excited about this opportunity to minister with and to the many faces in God's wonderful house, to celebrate the riches in so much diversity and to promote inter-cultural dialogue and cooperation. Isn't this what Christ was talking about when he commanded his followers to proclaim the Gospel to all nations?" Father Deck said.