Arturo Chávez is President of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio.

Arturo Chávez is President of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio.

Arturo Chávez wrote “Chapter 13: Unity in Diversity” for A Pastor’s Toolbox.  His thesis is that a multiplicity of cultures in the Catholic parish should not be viewed as a problem, but rather is “the core” of Catholic identity (139).  Cultural clashes or confrontations are not evils to be voided, but opportunities for “conversion” from ethnocentrism to the affirmation of difference.

Some parishes may assume that all cultures are the same and that differences need not exist.  Chávez’s chapter lays out the stages through which a parish may travel on the road from simplistic assumptions about culture, through defensiveness about one’s own culture, to the integration of various cultures that can form a more inclusive whole.

There is an unacknowledged tension between this chapter and chapter 11 by Michael Brough.  Brough’s chapter emphasized the eight guiding principles and 55 benchmarks of the National Leadership Roundtable.  It implied that there is a right and wrong way to run a parish.  Chávez’s chapter, by contrast, stresses the value of diversity and suggests that there are many “right ways” to run a parish.  For example, Chávez noted (as an example of a cultural clash) that  some people habitually arrive late for meetings.  He implied that this is an occasion for cultural conversion.  But I doubt that Michael Brough would see it that way.

One Response to Chávez

  1. Dear Mark, thanks for your reviews and for the work that our organizations have done together. I am delighted to tell you that Michael Brough and his friend and collaborator Arturo Chavez, agree completely about the diversity of parishes and the need for intercultural competencies for all ordained and lay leaders and parishioners.

    The Catholic Standards for Excellence (the “guiding principles” and “benchmarks” you refer to) themselves uphold diversity of experiences. They do not imply there is a “right way and a wrong way” to run a parish, but rather that there are best practices that are minimum stewardship standards for Catholic organizations and that require to be adapted for implementation in any particular context.

    Michael Brough

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