Los Angeles (Agenzia Fides) – Recently the archdiocese of Los Angeles issued a Pastoral Guide for communities of Native Americans. During a rally for Urban Native Americans held at Kuruvungna Cultural Springs Centre, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, signed 17 Instructions recognising Native Americans of California as the “First people of the land”. The local Catholic Church has provided guidelines for specific pastoral care. This is not a legal act or a contract Mons. Gomèz said in a report sent to Fides, it is a commitment “to include diverse traditional native issues and enrich them with prayers, faith, traditions and ceremonies of the Church and church institutions and structures in the whole of the archdiocese”. “We are committed to moving ahead on a path of reciprocal respect, recognition and dialogue. We wish to honour the great contribution offered by the ‘first peoples of this land to the Catholic Church since the beginning here in Los Angeles and in all America”, said Gomez.
“I am proud to stand with my brothers and sisters of the four peoples living today within the archdiocese of Los Angeles - Chumash, Tataviam, Tongva and Acjachemen”, concludes Mons Gomèz.
The instructions recognise the history of the native American communities in the building of missions all over the archdiocese. The instructions also give guidelines on how to welcome and incorporate native views and traditions. The instructions ensure that liturgies, ceremonies and celebrations in which Native Americans take part will include a traditional blessing with blessed herbs (sage, tobacco) by one or more Native tribe members.
The instructions say that burial sites and tombs of Native Americans need not be transformed into buildings by ecclesiastical bodies and that the leaders of the local tribes must be consulted to ensure that parish and school events reflect the true nature of the Native American people. The instructions say that Catholics directly descended from Native Americans may ask for Catholic religious services and sacraments Baptism, Confirmation, Matrimony and Burial, in the mission churches with which they have always been associated.
Today more than 50 tribes of Native Americans live in the area of Los Angeles, the largest community in the United States consisting of more than 150,000 urban Native Americans. The new guidelines recognise in particular the growing role of these Catholics in the growth of missions like Santa Ines, Santa Barbara, San Buenaventura, San Fernndo, San Gabriel and San Juan Capistrano.
(AP) (4/4/2018 Agenzia Fides)