This pastoral project brings together my developing interest in pastoral
theology with an established professional expertise in cultural anthropology. The
theme of the project is the challenge to contemporary Christianity (particularly the
Roman Catholic Church in the United States) as posed by cultural diversity.
Although Catholicism has always been aware of the need to bring the Gospel
message to people of diverse backgrounds, it is only in recent times that diversity
per se has become a salient political and social issue. Groups defined by various
criteria of diversity (race, ethnicity, gender, age, socioeconomic class, sexual
orientation, condition of disability, among others) are now self-aware, often well
organized, and very conscious of their rights, particularly in a socially and
politically heterogeneous democracy like the U.S. If the Church is to continue to
present the Gospel message to such groups, it must do so with a sensitivity toward
those aspects of their lives that are valued for their distinctiveness, even as it
seeks to impart a set of universal truths.