consecrated sister, ccn, Abbaye ND des Dombes, doctoral student at the Centre Sèvres-Facultés Jésuites de Paris (France) in dogmatic theology, trainer at ITD, member of the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians.


Being an open-minded man and woman

We live in a multi-cultural world, but do we live interculturality, that encounter with others who are different from us, and who require 'translation'? Being "affected" by the other, to help us leave the shores of indifference or lack of knowledge, is a Christian path, following in the footsteps of Christ who "so loved the world that he gave his life for it".

Why go from multi-cultural to in- tercultural?Throughout its history, the Church has been confronted with interculturality on numerous occasions, bringing into play different cultures, juxtaposed and in competition with one another.

And giving rise to a dominant culture and, unfortunately, the violence that could accompany it. So we need to break out of this pattern. A new face of the Church is emerging. It is no longer characterised by the predominance of one culture, but rather by new relationships between the different cultures that make it up.

How is this new face taking shape? The translation experience: thinking about the relationship between our cultures in terms of translation (Marc Crépon)

To think of the relationship between cultures as translation is to announce that it will no longer be possible to speak of different cultures as homogeneous entities, developed from a specific background, because, through translation, they cannot remain identical to themselves. They will gradually become, each in its own way, a mirror of all the others. Taken in this perspective, the extension of the concept of translation consists in thinking about the relationship between cultures in a cosmopolitan perspective. It is an eschatological promise, a promise of hope

Translation truly disappropriates my (our) language – it displaces it into a community that is no longer just that of those who speak my language. It brings me closer to those who speak other languages (the translated languages), just as what is translated from their language into my language brings them closer to me, so that this language is no longer entirely, or at least no longer exclusively, mine.

Translation blurs the map between mine and theirs. It’s also all about the dream of appropriation (of mastery and possession of one’s language, as « mother tongue »). I cannot be master of my language, I can never possess it, because I am not master of what, through translation, may happen to it at any given moment.

Radical welcome and standing on the border in the third place with the other.
It’s about rejecting summary « assimilation », and going a beyond symbolic « inclusion ». It’s about demonstrating an attitude of « radical welcome » or, as Pope Francis puts it, being a man or woman of open mind.

In the context of a community, the message is: « Bring your cultural and religious values, your voice and your autonomous personality, and help us build a new community together ».

Beyond assimilation and even incorporation, this approach will facilitate the authentic incarnation of each member. This inevitably means that each member of the community will be affected by the presence of others who are culturally different, as all are called to a permanent conversion: letting the new spring forth and being inventive together.

The need for reconciliation

For there to be reconciliation, there must be remembrance: for the Church, acknowledging its compromise with colonization and slavery.

Reconciliation brings about something new.

Christ’s reconciliation takes place on the margins:

To reconcile humanity with itself and with God, and to break down the barriers that separate people, Jesus chose to become a « marginal » person, a sociological and biblical « stranger », rather than a man of power and influence. Influential people occupy central positions, places of power and authority, but Jesus chose marginality as the most effective way of meeting people marginalized by circumstances and society.

Moving from juxtaposition to weaving to reveal a new image.
A new reality.
From multi to inter

The only effective way to do this is the way of Jesus, the way of the Cross, the way of meeting and walking with those who live on the margins. Given the strong cultural pressures for achievement, advancement and social recognition, intercultural living is a clear invitation to a counter-cultural lifestyle.


It’s a horizon that lies ahead of us: a promise and a weaving that will take a long time, but should begin today.

In small places, in our religious communities, in our theological faculties, in our parishes, etc., because the singular is the power of the universal. E. S.

Cet article fait partie du numéro 78 de la revue FOI


septembre-octobre-novembre 2023

Regard sur le monde   Vie de la Communauté  

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