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Community Polarization Around Cultural Adaptation in the Liturgy in a Fiji Indian Catholic Community

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In this essay, veteran Columban missionary Frank Hoare analyzes a dispute in the Fiji Indian community over the possibilities of employing hierarchically-approved, Indian adaptations to the Liturgy in a parish in Fiji. Hoare suggests that at bottom the dispute was not only about popular religiosity versus official religious practice, nor was it even about the limits of syncretism in Christian faith and practice. Rather, it was a dispute that went to the heart of power and authority structures within several of the Fiji Indian villages in the parish. Ultimately, Hoare concludes, inculturation in the Fiji Indian context needs to go beyond importing practices from Indian Christianity and translating Hindu practices for use within Christian contexts: "... a true and deep inculturation cannot result from borrowing forms from India, even if approved by ecclesiastical authorities, but will only come about through ongoing dialogue with the Fiji Indian Catholics as they try to hear and understand the gospel faith which transcends all cultures and express it in symbols and forms of their lived experience."

Affiliations: 1: St. Columban's, Grange Road, Donaghmede, Dublin, 13, Ireland., Email:


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