On the Anthropology and Theology of Roman Catholic Rituals in the Philippines

In: International Journal of Asian Christianity
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  • 1 Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Yoshida, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan bautista@cseas.kyoto-u.ac.jp

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The topic of this paper is the dynamics of clerical and public attitudes pertaining to the continued performance of Passion rituals of self-mortification among Roman Catholics in the Philippines. I examine discourses of official clerical disavowal of Passion rituals as well as the seemingly contrasting attitudes of accommodation and tacit encouragement from clerics ‘on the ground’. I argue that the diversity of perspectives on Passion rituals are not contradictions per se, but they are facets of the theological notion of inculturation, which espouses cultural porosity and diversity as elements of spiritual formation. In so doing, I discuss how scholars can come to a better appreciation of the analytical utility of inculturation by pursuing the disciplinary convergence between theology and anthropology. I submit that this anthro-theology does not only involve anthropologists expanding their conceptual range to include theological concepts but also making adjustments to the way we think about the epistemological subject positions of clerics and theologians, particularly as they are encountered in the process of ethnographic fieldwork.

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