Big lineup next Friday at the Vatican

It’s not often that the heads of three Vatican congregations assemble for a press conference. It’s happening next Friday, when the Vatican releases a “Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization.”

On the dais will be U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which prepared the new text; Cardinal Francis Arinze of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments; and Cardinal Ivan Dias of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. They’ll be joined by Archbishop Angelo Amato, secretary of the doctrinal congregation.

A few things are worth mentioning here. First, the topic of evangelization — broad as it is — touches on issues that have been simmering at the Vatican for several years, including the relationship between mission, dialogue and inculturation. More specifically, the doctrinal congregation has long been concerned that in some areas where Christians are a small minority, evangelization has been watered down or “relativized,” with not enough focus on Jesus Christ.

The three cardinals at the press conference will each speak to their area of expertise, sources said. It’s obvious why Cardinals Levada and Dias would be present. It’s a little less clear what Cardinal Arinze will address, although questions about liturgical inculturation — adaptations to local cultures — fall into his domain. All three are members of the doctrinal congregation.

Perhaps most interesting is that they’re having a press conference at all. When the doctrinal congregation issued two documents earlier this year — one on the Catholic Church as the one true church, the other on nutrition and hydration issues — no one was there to answer reporters’ questions. Church officials later complained that media reports on the documents were not always accurate. This time around, the Vatican is being more proactive.

The new document is said to be about 18 pages long, and will be released in six languages, including English. All three cardinals at the press conference are English-speaking, but if the usual Vatican format is followed, they’ll be giving their speeches and answering most questions in Italian. When in Rome…

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