Catholic World Report

Bishops plan response to Native American Catholics who ‘want their voice heard’

Kevin J. Jones   By Kevin J. Jones for CNA

Bishop James Wall of Gallup greets parishioners following Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Photo courtesy of the Diocese of Gallup.

Native American ministry was an action item for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Thursday, as the relevant subcommittee sought approval for a new statement and a “comprehensive vision” for indigenous Catholics and those who serve them.

“There is at present no guide for the Catholic Church in the U.S. in approaching, understanding and promoting Catholic Native ministry,” said Bishop James Wall of Gallup, head of the Subcommittee on Native American Affairs under the U.S. bishops’ Standing Committee for Cultural Diversity.

In his June 17 remarks to the bishops’ spring assembly and in an interview with CNA, Wall outlined a plan for better enculturation of the Catholic faith, recognition of Native American ministry and spirituality, and the needs of Native American communities. He especially noted the need to address lingering issues of justice and reconciliation regarding historical matters like Catholic boarding schools that were part of the effort to assimilate and Americanize Native American children, often through coercion.

Native American Catholics have not had a new statement from the U.S. bishops in over four decades.

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  1. Bishops plan response to Native(sic) American Catholics who ‘want their voice heard’

    Let’s hope they definitively correct the continued propagation of a myth and remind them – as well as Kevin J. Jones and all of his comrades – that American Indians are not in fact native to North America, their ancestors migrated across the Bering Strait land bridge from Siberia.

    • Gary,

      Nobody is native to North America if not American Indians. What’s the point of splitting this hair? It is good news to Catholics and Native Americans that the USCCB is taking this up. Be happy!

  2. We are going back 500 years to the Doctrine of Discovery?? Really?? I have great respect for Native Americans and their culture. However I am tired of groups which continue to beat the dead horse of history. Like it or not, the past is PAST , and it cannot be “undone”. Penalizing those NOT directly responsible for the offenses only grows new resentments among those being blamed for what they did NOT do. Granted that wrongs were committed in the far past. The reality is that TODAY’s non-minority citizens are not responsible for that. In fact many of those mostly white families didnt arrive on these shores until post 1900. I am also tired of the church’s ongoing efforts to “solve” issues like these with large cash payouts, which, like those granted for the sex abuse accusations, are increasingly bankrupting the church, diocese by diocese. More and more I suspect that is what these lawsuits etc, have in mind. Such actions and resultant financial effects, only serve to handicap the church in it’s many good social works. I donate to more than a few Indian Schools in the American west, run by the Church or Catholic orders, which are doing good work to help the children there whose families are suffering the effects of alcoholism and other issues. Change for the better has been happening for some time. Supporting such work would be a welcome focus, as would encouraging Deacons and vocations from among Native Americans. If however the Bishops are going to issue a statement saying how bad ( racist) all white people are, and how bad the church was, delivered with a large check, they can count on even more Catholics leaving the church who resent being cast with blame for something they didnt do. And being told to pay for it. Finally, for balance, it should be noted that the historical record shows that Natives committed atrocities of their own. Maybe it’s time to call it a draw, and move on.

  3. It is natural to want to worship God in a manner that one is comfortable with. By all means all people should be allowed this privilege. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is not the culture, style or language with which we worship God that matters, but the humility, honesty and faithfulness that does. The Pharisee in the Temple pleased himself (and that was his only reward) whereas the humble Publican/tax collector pleased Jesus.

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