AMERICA/MEXICO - Indigenous peoples: Catholic Church strives for inculturation

Wednesday, 30 August 2023


Mexico City (Agenzia Fides) - "In almost every Latin American Episcopal Conference there is a commission dedicated to the promotion and protection of indigenous peoples", says Cardinal Felipe Arizmendi, Bishop Emeritus of San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the Mexican state of Chiapas who explains that each diocese also has its own corresponding pastoral plan, adding that "there is also a commission at the Latin American Bishops' Council (CELAM) headed by the Nahuatl indigenous Bishop José Hiraís Acosta of the Diocese of Huautla Hidalgo".
"There is still a lot to be done because these peoples are still severely discriminated against in Mexican society," said the bishop emeritus. "The Popes, from John Paul II to Francis, have addressed many messages to them, expressing their appreciation and insisting that they must be a living part, subjects and not just objects of pastoral care; must assume their role as priests, deacons, catechists, native nuns with full rights". In this spirit, this year the Mexican Bishops' Conference proposed to the Holy See some pastoral adjustments for the indigenous peoples of Mexico. "Without losing the essence of the Catholic faith, the Church must seek inculturation among the native peoples of Mexico," the cardinal stressed. "We seek to express the same Catholic faith and Roman liturgy in indigenous forms, without losing the essential elements of the Catholic faith and liturgy of the universal Church." Cardinal Arizmendi also pointed out that there are plans in various dioceses to translate the Bible into their respective languages. Currently there is only the complete translation into the Tzeltal language of Chiapas approved by the Mexican Bishops' Conference, two Tzotzil translations in Chiapas, the New Testament in Maya, and other isolated translations made by various priests. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INEGI), 68 indigenous languages are currently spoken in Mexico. The most common are Nahuatl (22.4%), Maya (10.5%) and Tzeltal (8.0%). For every 100 people aged three and over who speak an indigenous language, 12 do not speak Spanish. 23.2 million Mexicans aged three and over are indigenous, which is 19.4% of the total population in this age group. (AP/APM) (Agenzia Fides, 30/8/2023)