Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

Interculturality, a way to participate in divine creation

Osservatore Romano 30.05.2023 Arturo Sosa Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

The structural injustice characterising current socio-political relations seems to be a legacy that the previous historical epoch leaves to the new one as it begins. In this change of epoch, we are witnessing situations, such as the coronavirus pandemic, that affect the whole of humanity and clearly reveal the extent and depth of structural injustice.

Social gaps, poverty, forced migration and other calamities continue to grow. It seems impossible to stop the environmental degradation caused by the production models and luxurious lifestyles generated by globalised consumer capitalism. Armed conflicts continue to increase even where it seemed that alternatives had been found to resolve them. World politics has failed to mature enough to govern the world in humanity’s common interest.

This global socio-political framework in which we move has already been defined as an unavoidable reference for the reflections we would share: making 'encounter' the essential and permanent dimension of the cultures in which we move.

We have already recalled how structural injustice generates situations of disagreement or 'dis-encounter'. The challenge of the mission we have received is to take effective steps towards brotherhood and peace. Therefore, developing the dimension of ‘encounter’ in the cultures giving meaning to our lives becomes a fundamental requirement for progress. Encounter is that dimension of cultures that serves as a tool to overcome injustice, transform society, achieve reconciliation among people and between peoples, and the natural environment in which all life unfolds.

I prefer to speak of cultures in the plural in order to highlight one of humanity's greatest assets: cultural diversity. Cultural diversity represents one of the most extraordinary ways of participating in the creation that is born from God and by his Word. Through their cultures, humans are co-creators. Cultural diversity is to humans what biodiversity is to nature; it is therefore a treasure that must be recognised, defended, preserved and promoted. Through cultures, people and peoples make sense of their lives and find meaning in them. The Apostolic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council Gaudium et Spes offers a clear description of what is meant by the word culture, thus reaffirming the reality and importance of cultural pluralism in humanity’s past, present and future.

In today's world, multicultural experiences and spaces exist in tension with the trend that favours cultural homogeneity, a trend promoted in order to support the market dynamics, the dominant structure of production and consumption relations. Multiculturalism recognises cultural diversity as human wealth, encourages coexistence between different cultures and promotes their preservation. Multiculturalism is a complex and fruitful experience between culturally diverse human beings. At the same time, it reflects the inevitable tension between the local roots of each human being or social group and the universal vision that generates global identity and universal citizenship.

The mission we have received of working for the reconciliation of all things in Christ, however, prevents us from being satisfied with multiculturalism. It confronts us with the challenge of interculturality, which leads to an enriching exchange between all peoples and social groups that meet and share their cultures. The steady growth of migration flows in the world reveals the deep wounds that exist, but also offers opportunities for large-scale cultural exchanges. We can see in this reality an important sign of the times that invites us to deepen the dimension of encounter. It is a journey that leads us to feel that we are members of the whole one humanity, true citizens of the world.

Intercultural encounter goes beyond what we have called multiculturalism. The latter recognises the existence of many, numerous cultures in human history and across the vast geography in which peoples have lived, and nurtures peaceful coexistence between them. Intercultural encounter seeks to build bridges and promote a fluid exchange between all cultures in a complex process that involves confirming and enriching one's own identity while enriching that of others.

However, encounter always risks provoking conflict. Actually, interculturality is not simply an 'encounter between cultures' that avoids the need to acquire a critical view of one's own culture, nor does it allow one to be content with mere respect for cultural diversity, as if it were somehow possible to produce a meta-cultural sphere or space.

We search encounters between people of different cultures as a means of mutual enrichment. Interculturality enriches those who engage in this process, and it is possible because all cultures have the encounter dimension. The intercultural encounter is "a mutual exchange between cultures that leads to the transformation and enrichment of the people involved" (Cf. Stanislaus, L. - Ueffing, M., Interculturalidad, Estella, ed. Verbo Divino 2017, p. 23).

Therefore, it is an interactive and participatory encounter within the historical, social, economic and political context in which it takes place. Through the intercultural encounter, cultures develop more dynamically, undergoing internal changes that lead them to grow in the universal dimension of humanity.

In Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis describes the Samaritan's encounter with the wounded man abandoned by the roadside to show how fraternity is created. The Samaritan is not trapped in a way of living his culture that prevents him from extending his hand to meet the person in need of his help. On the contrary, the dimension of encounter opens his eyes to human needs without making distinctions. The cultural dimension of encounter makes it possible to care for other people, other cultures and other wounded peoples. It makes it possible to embrace them and offer every means to heal wounds, build bridges and foster brotherhood.

The desire for peace has been present in human cultures throughout its long histories full of violence and wars. Now, in the midst of a 'third world war in pieces', as Pope Francis describes it, we aspire for a lasting peace that goes beyond the silence of weapons.

This peace is based on social justice. As long as there is no change in the socio-economic structure that breeds poverty and sustains the scandalous differences between one people and another, between a few very wealthy people and the poor majorities; as long as religious fundamentalist justifications and ideological smokescreens do not disappear, violence will not end, nor will the flow of forced migration and human trafficking. Nor will aggression against the natural environment cease, even though it threatens life on planet Earth.

Peace demands that we walk together on the complex path of reconciliation that leads us from tragic dis-encounter and broken human relationships to true fraternal encounter. Peace demands that we walk together in the same direction in order to create the conditions for dialogue. It implies personal and group processes of accompaniment that are both complex in nature and asynchronous; that is, they proceed at different rhythms and can only be harmonised through the patient and unconditional presence of those accompanying them.

Intercultural encounters are possible when there is collaboration between many people, not only of different cultures, but also of different characteristics and complementary skills. Collaboration means sharing responsibility for the process and is therefore a prerequisite for intercultural encounter.

Engaging in the intercultural encounter means increasing and refining the capacity for dialogue, which is a fundamental dimension of the process. Dialogue must be both intercultural and intracultural.

Resistance and obstacles are obvious to all.

See, Interculturalità, un modo per partecipare alla creazione divina - L'Osservatore Romano 

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