According to historian John Padberg, there was “something new” in the decision by the delegates at the 32nd General Congregation to issue the following decree, specifically commenting on the “work of inculturation of the faith and promotion of Christian life.” Padberg observes that previous congregations did not address the topic (see the congregation’s historical preface in Jesuit Life & Mission Today (2009), pg. 268). The decree asks “all Jesuits to promote” inculturation. It also recommends that the superior general “clarify for all of Ours the true meaning and theological understanding of the task and process of inculturation as well as its importance for the apostolic mission of the Society today.”
For more from the 32nd General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, please consult this page.
1. In furthering the mission of evangelization and the building up of Christ’s Church, the 32nd General Congregation is aware of the great importance that must be given today to the work involving inculturation of both faith and Christian life in all the continents of the world, but especially in the regions of Asia and Africa1 and in some countries of Latin America. Mindful that from its very beginning the Society has had a long and venerable missionary tradition of promoting inculturation, the Congregation judges that this work must be pursued with even greater determination in our own day and that it deserves the progressively greater concern and attention of the whole Society. Therefore, the Congregation urgently requests all Jesuits to promote this effort according to the mind and authentic teaching of the Church in order to provide greater help and service not only to the local Churches but especially to the universal Church under the Vicar of Christ on earth, to the end that all peoples and nations may be restored to unity in Christ Jesus, Our Lord.
2. The Congregation entrusts to Father General the further development and promotion of this work throughout the Society. In the first place, it recommends that, after he has considered the whole question with the help of expert assistance, Father General write a letter or instruction to the entire Society, in order to further this work in and by the Society. His purpose in writing will be to clarify for all of Ours the true meaning and theological understanding of the task and process of inculturation as well as its importance for the apostolic mission of the Society today. The Congregation also recommends to Father General that he further this effort in any other ways which seem to him more conducive to God’s greater glory.
Original Source (English translation):
Jesuit Life & Mission Today: The Decrees & Accompanying Documents of the 31st–35th General Congregations of the Society of Jesus, ed. John W. Padberg. St. Louis, Mo.: Institute of Jesuit Sources, 2009, General Congregation 32, Decree 5, “The Work of Inculturation of the Faith and the Promotion of Christian Life,” pg. 317–318 [131–132].