2 GENERAL FEEDBACK Regarding presentation unless you have been told to number

2
GENERAL FEEDBACK
Regarding presentation unless you have been told to number paragraph headings I don’t think an essay requires this as there is no contents list so there is no need to place a number in front of the paragraph headings, simply have them in Bold.
I think as well in writing this essay you cannot assume that the author makes the distinction between Inclusivism as a theological approach to being saved or salvation which includes thinking about who is in that promise and who isn’t etc (exclusivist approach) and Inclusivity in the field of social justice and disability and rights etc. So I think you might need to be really clear and show that you are talking about this overlap about inclusivism and sotierology and the reality of exclusion it brings up for those who cannot even access the articles of their faith, teaching and liturgy as deaf faithful.
The Church’s aspiration touches into a very real and practical world of religious exclusivism but it also misses the ability to adequately address inclusivism in broader terms that enable, support and include a genuinely inclusive agenda for deaf people to grow in faith and share in the gospel. The inclusivity agenda of the Church has tended to focus on who is inside and out of the promise of Salvation rather than who can access the gospel as a believer. IN its determination for defining God according to religious truths it has further excluded deaf people by overtly focusing inclusivity on interreligious communication rather than improving communication within and between the most excluded body of the faithful, the deaf community.
In Theology or English if a known quote is used to headline a paragraph at the beginning of an essay it is often done so to set the tone and therefore if used wisely to reflect the overall context of the essay there is no need to explain that quote so in this case if you picked a quote that spoke to you you wouldn’t necessarily need to get involved in commentary about salvation etc.
SO two observations: Firstly, is that you are confusing the idea of exclusivism (Exclusivism claims that personal faith in Christ saves you) with the idea of inclusivism in theology (Inclusivism is an approach that would say Jesus saves us all it and it does not require religious CONVERSION or personal faith in Christ to be saved because Jesus is the action of Salvation and this is an act for all whether you believe it or not. This is what Lumen G. is about in Pope Francis own words). The way you have interpreted John’s quote is not inclusive because inclusivism means accepting what others believe knowing they are included in God’s promise regardless because Jesus came to save us all and you are saved WITHOUT having to convert. So an inclusivist theology would not be one that implies you have to convert, be baptized or must confess Christ it knows you are included in God’s promise…If you want to include this you have to be clear why these exclusive, inclusive, pluralist distinctions and approaches are about and they are generally used in relation to interfaith thinking. It is good that you are thinking about how inclusivity can be used and though of in many ways and shouldn’t just be discussed in relation to religious belief and salvation.
Secondly, it is important that you clear in your head this difference if you are going to talk about exclusivism, inclusivism or pluralism in theology as this has come up in a few of your essay’s and I see here you have chosen a very exclusivist interpretation of John’s quote but I don’t think that was your intention?. Is this what you meant to say and do you yourself believe that humans are only Saved by being baptized and believing in Christ?. So Pope Francis in Lumen Gent. CLEARLY cleared up this issue and distinction on salvation and belief and that you need not explicitly believe the gospel to receive salvation. Inclusivism takes the position salvation is through and by Christ but you don’t need to believe in Christ. Pluralism goes further and sees truth and God in all things and conversion of the heart to God comes ultimately through love which has many different expressions across cultures and beliefs etc.
when you talk about Soteriology or mention Salvation in Theology you have to understand you are talking about the Doctrine of SALVATION and so as a student of theology it involves you in Soteriology and also how you interpret and express Christ as Savor needs careful consideration if you are also discussing inclusivism. You don’t have to deal with the issue of salvation for your essay it is not necessary for you to include it I wonder is it something in your theology that really speaks to you, do you think deaf people are wondering and worrying and thinking they are not included in the promise of salvation???? Perhaps it is important for you so if it is I just want to lay out and explain the background. The interpretation of this Doctrine that has come through complete theological transformation. If you believe that salvation can ONLY come to a person by BELIEVING in CHRIST that IS DIFFERENT TO BELIEVING that SALVATION AND THE LOVE OF GOD CAME THROUGH CHRIST AS A ONE TIME EVENT FOR ALL PEOPLE.
I think at the heart of what you are really talking about is that the Church is not acting with an attitude of inclusivity towards those who believe in Christ and not being helpful in making Christ accessible.
Module: Word and Lection
Topic: You may write on any topic related to Scripture in the life of the Church and / or the individual believer
Inclusion of the Deaf Community in Liturgy, Lection, and Communion
Introduction
The salvation story is based on salvation being available for everyone in so far as we hear that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him may gain eternal life (John 3:16). Yet when we dissect John’s passage it throws up lots of theological questions about what it means to be included and how that belief should unfold in view of God’s love and the promise of Salvation. It is a quote that for an interfaith theologian will open a whole set of questions about belief and conversion or for soteriology about what it means to be saved and whether or not the key expectation hence is that a person should believe in Christ. Salvation is available for each person (. Further, in Matthew 28:16-20. Jesus calls on his disciples to go into the world and baptize all nations in the name of the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus hence introduces an inclusive approach to faith that requires each person to be availed the opportunity without regard for disability or other factors that may often cause a person to be excluded from various aspects of the community. (See what I wrote about the difference in introduction note between exclusivist and inclusivist interpretations. If you want to use this quote of John’s I would say for yourself this is not an easy quote example to use of an inclusivist attitude or approach because you have to explain too much to make it sound inclusive. When we consider inclusivism, this quote and interpretation is not inclusive instead it is based on the need to convert people so the challenge for that interpretation of this quote you have taken is that across most all other religions this text is based on the need to believe in Jesus Christ which makes John’s an exclusivist text if interpreted in this way. Inclusivism isn’t based on changing a person’s approach or belief. If you are Muslim, Ba’hia or Jewish or an atheist this interpretation suggests that you are ONLY saved if you convert your belief to believe in Christ and this is both based on conversion and contingent on becoming Christian. We can only call an attitude, interpretation or approach inclusive if it is inclusive of all people regardless of what they believe OR even HOW THEY EXPRESS IT. But the interpretation you have selected for John’s quote assumes what D’Costa would call restrictive-access exclusivism eg you must become a believer first and be as a Christian to get this salvation. So no John’s quote here and the interpretation you make this is NOT inclusive it is conditional exclusivism expressed as universal exclusivism. Now we also understand from Sotierology that salvation is not based on the need to convert your religion but rather the focus is ABOUT understanding and interpreting that which SHOWS THE RECONCILING LOVE OF GOD and that this Love is uncontained , it is for all. SO when we say BELIVE in CHRIST again it is the difference between being literal or understanding the deeper layer; you can see what Christ’s Love was about and share this way, share this message about not judging, forgiving, not harming, as it is open for expression because it doesn’t demand loyalty or conversion it is focused on having an open heart to include all people not convert them or demand loyalty, that is what Caesar does, so Jesus is not about gathering human loyalty and obedience and converting religions he is about Baptism in the Spirit, John Baptised with Water, Jesus the Spirit and the Spirit comes from God and God descends on Whomever however. So feel free to use the quote you have chosen but be aware of how you are interpreting it and ask yourself is this reflective of inclusivism? Jesus wanted people to amend the ways of their heart and not to transact in greed and power but to give the Love of God back to God and others ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s? (Mark 12:17). As Pope Francis has said “those who through “no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart…may achieve eternal salvation.” (Lumen gentium, Ch 2.16). There is no doubt that since Vatican II the Church has thought about how to develop an attitude of inclusiveness for non Christians and those who may not know Christ and will not as John says see salvation by ‘believing in Christ’ (John 3:16). So thinking about inclusivism in the Church has focused on how God’s promise applies to non-Christians who have not been exposed and nurtured in the faith RATHER than how to better include Christians who cannot physically hear or speak the word of God in the only way it has been confessed and taught. I BELIEVE what you are trying to say is that the thinking around inclusivisim has been very focused on interfaith and consioucslt or not it has bypassed what it means to be inclusive as a Church among its own believers first, as a large portion of existing faithful are excluded. Is it the same for you as a deaf person, when someone is trying to convert you to their way of LEARNING ABOUT GOD almost implying by not helping that to access Christ you have to access a particular form of speaking and hearing etc. Is that not a form of exclusivism? I would argue it is is. THIS IS WHY JESUS KEEPS COMING BACK TO THE EXAMPLE OF LOVE through actions and signs BECAUSE WORDS AND DEFINITIONS AND SPEAKING are not markers of God or His Love etc…
So pastoral insights have matured and evolved in understanding that salvation does not necessitate religious conversion. NOW HOW have those pastoral insight translated to show that salvation doesn’t matter if you sign or speak or hear???? This is kind of what I thing you are trying to get out of John’s quote which is a hard quote to make look inclusive but if it isn’t what you are trying to say then I am not sure the purpose of the quote. Either way the Church has not really thought through inclusivism and the deaf community even though it has come a long way in thinking about salvation inclusively for those outside of the Christian faith yet it has not really managed to communicate very well for those inside the faith who want to hear and believe in Christ how they are included and understand their place in the Liturgy, Word and Church, (I think this is what you are trying to say?). So the following paragraph you have stated is very well done I think John’s quote is a challenging one to start with.
The deaf church has experienced exclusion in various forms over the past. It is vital to understand the importance of tackling the current state of disabling communication wherein spoken and written expressions of liturgy and the word aspire to but fall short of inclusion of the deaf church. To fully appreciate the impact of this it is important to consider what if any the measures that the church has adopted to attain inclusivity from within and for the purpose of addressing the outcome, and the challenges that the deaf church has and continues to experience in the daily life of the Church. Thus, the purpose of this essay is firstly Most specifically I will to bring attention to those challenges that the deaf church has faced when we consider concerning Liturgy and Scripture in the life of the Church. One caveat is that I am not assuming the Church is indifferent rather that the Church is openly challenging itself and it’s body of faithful to Secondly to look at reconcile these challenges in view of the Church’s her own aspiration for liturgical inculturation (Vatican 1992:1962) and entering communion with a diversity of cultures, the deaf culture being but one of these cultures. Finally considering how this applies to deaf culture in a way that is welcoming, assimilating, and integrating the unique aspects of deaf culture into Christianity.
Biblical context for inclusion of the deaf in the church
There are various Biblical foundations for the inclusion of deaf culture in the church. Broesterhuizen notes that when Jesus healed the deaf man, he told him to open up. Broesterhuizen explains that the healing of the deaf man and the command given to the man provides a foundation for ministry to the deaf. The command to open up is explained as having the implication that the deaf man should spread the word of God. The man was hence given the role to reach out to the members of the community. Further, it is explained that the proclaiming of the Word of God (Capital W for Word of God) should occur both in signs and in voice. The healing of the deaf man and the command given hence indicates that the Church has a role to ensure that the deaf are also in a position enabled ? encouraged? to spread the gospel and create new disciples.
Broesterhuizen defines liberation gospel as being focused on presenting God as a savior that heals and is concerned about the suffering and deaths of the people. Liberation gospel provides a foundation for the church to enculturate the deaf community. Broesterhuizen notes that Jesus message was based on liberation. This is observed from Jesus healing the sick, caring for the excluded such as the lepers and cripples, and healing the blind, the lame and the deaf. Liberation gospel challenges the Church to adopt the example of Jesus and reach out to populations that have traditionally been excluded. Liberation Gospel hence follows Jesus focus on inclusion and the participation of every person in the community.(GOOD)
The New Testament also indicates God’s concern for deaf people (EG, REF). In Exodus 4, The Lord states that He is the one that created the deaf and the mute (You have just jumped form the OT to the NT did you mean to do that?). That God acknowledges having created the deaf indicates that He is also concerned about their creation. Reinke thus explains that God is concerned about savings all people including the deaf.(SO this is good it is what I was saying earlier in the introduction that if you want to include the notion of salvation this has very specific experiences for deaf people. Perhaps and especially maybe when they read Scriptural passages that could be taken literally you might think that they had no real place in being included in Jesus’s gospel of Good News because how would they heart it. The assumption from the healing s could be that you are hearing Jesus only in so far as if they were lucky enough to be physically healed, so one interpretation if you take the healings literally is that the Bible portrays deafness and the need to hear as an example of salvation and you have to be physically healed to be saved. However people who speak and learn theology and discuss the interpretation have the opportunity to hear about how these healings were also to show the disbelievers about the power of God at a very deep level and that this power walks among them as Jesus did. A deeper theological discussion might expose that the healings weren’t necessarily focused on saying anything negative about being deaf, the negative experience of the deaf or the lame came from the social attitudes that excluded them, Jesus healings were not to say you must be healed as a deaf person but rather look at the fact that anything is possible to God. However if you are a deaf person and have not had this deeper teaching it literally portrays the need to be healed of deafness.) The church should hence similarly be concerned about spreading the Gospel to the deaf community.
Moreover the church has a duty to provide for the needs of the people. Matthew (You put the number in brackets after the quote and no need to use quotation marks as it isn’t exact) in his gospel reminds which of you if your son asks for bread will give him stone? (Matt 7:9) Bianchi compares this to deaf children that are crying for bread so to reinforce the point that the deaf are a part of the children of God too. The Church understands she has a need to provide for the deaf yet has failed to show it’s understanding in her response to should hence respond to the cries of the deaf by providing the bread of life being sought. This failure of the of the church to respond to the cries of the deaf is specifically evident in failing to aknolwedge deaf language and culture in its own write and consequently providing no for greater access to liturgy, lectionary, Eucharist, and catechism in the language and culture of the deaf in a way that is will be akin to a father that gives stone to his children that are demanding bread. The church should hence take measures to address the needs of the deaf for the bread of life. At times the deaf community have felt so excluded, silenced and denied that it seems as though we are like those that the teachers of the law were condemned for shutting the kingdom of heaven in people‘s faces (Matthew 23:15). The church may potentially expose itself to the risk of doing as the Pharisees did and preventing the deaf from entering heaven (? Ref). There is hence a need for concerted effort from the church to ensure that it does not become a hindrance to the deaf accessing the Kingdom of God due to the potential condemnation that will be placed upon it (DO DEAF PEOPLE THINK THIS that they are not going to be saved? Or do they simply feel discriminated on and excluded?). This requires proactive action from the church clergy and management to address the spiritual needs of the deaf community.
The Vatican Council II also recognized the importance of scripture in ensuring that people gained an understanding of God. Gaillardetz explains that the Council noted that scripture is essential in enabling a person to know God. People require to have access to scripture so that they can gain revelation from the Holy Spirit and build a personal relationship with God. The council did not draw a difference between the deaf and hearing people even though these are two fundamentally different languages and cultures, there is little to no common ground in the expression of sharing even though it may be wrongly assumed that deaf people read and read in the same way that hearing people read, write and speak in a way that each reinforces the experience and learning. For a verbal person, writing and reading and speaking are a connected language for reinforcement in pedagogy and learning. Deaf people do not apply the same principle in learning as their language is different and this therefore requires from the point of early faith development and catechism that they have access to lessons of the Bible, insights about Scripture and the liturgy in their own language. The assertions of Vatican II hence extend to the deaf and the hearing. The primacy of scripture creates the need to enhance the accessibility of the same to the deaf. As stated a significant proportion of the deaf are incapable of reading English. It hence becomes necessary for the church to ensure that scripture is accessible to the deaf in an alternative manner aligned with deaf culture. Addressing the needs of the deaf community is hence aligned with the assertions and principles of the Catholic Church. Focus should be on implementation.
Moreover, Vatican II recognized the role of all people in spreading the Gospel. Gaillardetz notes that Vatican II acknowledged that the whole of the church has a duty to share the word of God. Hence, God, does not only reveal Himself to the clergy, who then have to pass the message to the people. God can also reveal Himself to other members of the church, who can then share the message with others. The assertion is an indication of the great commission and illustrates the role of the whole comprising of the deaf and the hearing. The council hence illustrates an awareness that all the members of the church should play an active role in the faith community. However, the ability of the deaf community to align with the requirements of Vatican II is dependent on being enabled by the church. The church hence a duty to play to ensure that each person contributes to the community of faithful and reach out to other people.
Prior Biblical basis utilized to exclude the deaf
The Bible has falsely been used as a basis for excluding the deaf community from the church. Romans 10: 17 describes that “faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ. Broesterhuizen explains that the verse has been literary interpreted in the past as insinuating that deaf people cannot grow their faith because they cannot hear. The literal adoption of hearing as meaning the communicatin of scripture through sound has resulted in the exclusion of the deaf from the scripture. However, it is explained that the interpretation proved to be false with the development of sign language in the 15th century. Sign language provides a chance for the deaf to learn scripture without hearing, rather through signs. It has also been explained that the verse refers to hearing through the heart, not necessarily through sound. The interpretation of hearing with the heart is especially appropriate given Jeremiah 5:21 which states “Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes, but do not see, who have ears, but not hear.” People that “have ears but do not hear” are rebellious people that are unwilling to accept the word of God in their hearts. Hearing may hence be considered as accepting the word of God. The word of God may hence be accepted by a person regardless of the channel through it is accessed, whether sound or sight.
Challenges experienced by the deaf church
The deaf community has experienced various challenges that limited participation in lectionary, liturgy and communion. Broesterhuizen describes that historically, the deaf have not been strongly involved in religious activities in the church. For instance, in 1973, at a time when secularization was not as prevalent as at the present, only 22% of the deaf members of the catholic church actively practiced their faith. Shortcomings were also present in the deaf community regarding the trinity, the Eucharist doctrine, and other aspects of the church. The deaf members of the church have hence suffered from a combination of a lack of knowledge about church doctrine and the opportunity to participate in church activities. The statistics indicate that the church has in the past failed regarding the provision of knowledge on the Catholic faith to the deaf church. The limited level of knowledge may potentially be considered to be a failure of catechism, given that catechism classes provide the primary channel by which people can learn about God and the doctrines of the Catholic Church.
The deaf church has also suffered from prevailing misconceptions about deaf people’s ability to understand scripture. Broesterhuizen notes that in the past, limited participation of deaf people has been blamed on their perceived inability to understand spoken and written language. Broesterhuizen describes that deaf people were regarded as being “too perceptually bound to understand the highly symbolic language of religion.” The statement indicates that deaf people have in the past been stereotyped as lacking the levels of intelligence required to grasp the lessons that religion provides. The misconceptions relating to the ability of deaf people to understand scripture potentially made it easier for them to be excluded. However, Broesterhuizen describes that the crux of the problem lies in the inability of deaf people to relate the stories of the Bible to their experiences. The church has hence in the past and the present been unable to fill the gap that exists between the manner in which faith is expressed and the context that deaf people experience each day. The experiences of deaf people hence differ significantly from those of other members of the church that can comfortably use hearing to learn scripture.
Moreover, deaf people have been considered inferior to hearing people. Broesterhuizen writes that hearing people in the church have a sense of superiority over deaf people. The sense of superiority is expressed by some of the pastors being arrogant. Broesterhuizen writes that the sense of superiority has resulted in the exclusion of the deaf. The deaf have been considered as requiring help, eliminating the opportunity to make positive contributions that can make it easier to spread the faith to other deaf people. The focus on helping the deaf community instead of accepting their capability to make contributions has limited the deaf member’s ability to contribute to the Christian community. Deaf people are noted as having lacked the empowerment required to enable them make a positive contribution to the church. The sense of superiority held by the church members that can hear has hence been a hindrance to empowering the deaf community and enhancing its participation in reaching out and teaching other deaf people about the faith.
The Clagget declaration provides an understanding of the challenges that the deaf experience as they attempt to access the Church. The Clagget declaration indicated the factors that the deaf community considered as hindering its participation in the church. Broesterhuizen identifies the first complaint as the deaf being repressed by the church and being forced to take part in haring forms of worship where English is used and the interpreters are unable to translate the ancient phrases that the Bible uses. Further, churches failed to include forms of worship aligned with deaf culture even when separate services for the deaf were held. Additionally, the declaration indicated that the church has stereotyped the deaf as incapable of contributing to the Christian community. The declaration indicates that the deaf church has experienced diverse challenges relating to participation in church activities, worship culture, and the interpretation of scripture.
While the church has transitioned towards the adoption of sign language, the issues pertaining to translation have not been fully addressed. Reinke notes that it is challenging for the deaf to read English scripture because of the differences in the language structure and vocabulary. Sign language is iconic while most of the words used in English do not have iconic value. Further, it is challenging to translate passive voice into English language. The differences between English and sign language hence make it substantially challenging for the deaf to understand scripture written in English, eliminating any possibility for the deaf independently reading English scriptures.
Pope Francis as the leader of the Catholic church has substantially showed commitment to inclusion of the deaf community. Longblin notes that his use of sign language to communicate “I love you” to deaf congregant indicated his awareness that the deaf community comprises an important part of the church community. The senior church leadership should adopt similar, and more intensive approach to indicate that the deaf community is considered an important part of the church. Leadership on inclusion of the deaf community from the upper echelons of the Catholic church has the potential to cause all the churches located in different parts of the world exhibit greater commitment for adopting measures that will enhance the accessibility of the word of God to the deaf community. It will enable a transition from measures being implemented by individual priests at the local level and lead to the adoption of proactive ministry to the deaf as a church objective and policy.
Church’s aspirations for inculturation of the deaf church and measures taken
It is vital to ensure the relevance of lectionary to all the congregants. To this end, Bonneau notes that the Vatican II lectionary reform recognized the need to ensure that lectionary traditions were brought up to date. Lectionary has a historical cultural origin that runs back Jewish traditions, reading of scripture in the ancient synagogue, and early Christian worship. The Vatican II council hence realized the importance of ensuring that lectionary traditions are not confined to past cultures, but is aligned with the needs of modern society. Updating culture includes a variety of considerations and should not occur to the exclusion of the deaf church. Updating of lectionary traditions should hence create inclusivity by enhancing the participation and involvement of the deaf community. It may then be possible to attain the desired objective of bringing the complete pastoral effect of the mass. It is impossible to bring the full pastoral effect of the mass without adopting lectionary rites that address the needs of the deaf church.
The Catholic church has made significant progress towards inculcating deaf culture. Broesterhuizen for instance indicates that in the past, disability, especially deafness was considered as a hindrance to ordination. Deaf people could hence not be ordained as priests. The church has however ordained various deaf people as priests. The ordination of deaf people has enhanced the inclusion of deaf culture into the church. It has removed a roadblock that previously made it more challenging for the church to reach out to deaf people and teach the faith to them. The ordination of deaf people is a means of empowering the deaf community to participate and contribute in the church. The ordination of priests that have grown up in deaf culture is a means of inculturating deaf culture into the Catholic Church’s various rites including liturgy, lectionary and communion. The deaf priests are empowered to undertake the rites in a manner that is aligned with the context of the deaf community. Broesterhuizen notes that an outcome of the inclusion of deaf priests has been the translation of the Bible into sign language and the creation of Eucharist prayers using signs that the church has approved and accepted. jIt hence emerges that the church has also provide the opportunity for the deaf to access scripture through sign language and take part in Eucharist by praying through sign language. The church has hence made substantial progress towards the enculturation of deaf culture.
The church however continues to consider the deaf community as a less significant target group compared to other hearing groups. Broesterhuizen for instance that the deaf ministry has experienced challenges attempting to establish its position in the community. The church has for instance indicated an unwillingness to commit additional resources to the deaf ministry, instead identifying that the resources should be allocated to the Hispanic population. Broesterhuizen explains the failure to allocate adequate resources to the deaf ministry is causing its gradual decline. However, Broesterhuizen considers that a key reason for the financial constraints facing deaf ministry is the lack of voice. The church thus continues to consider voice as a key factor in the allocation of resources to the various community groups served in the society. Broesterhuizen indicates that the failure to allocate financial resources to deaf ministry has resulted in some churches being unwilling to pay for deaf interpreters. The absence of deaf interpreters means that the deaf community cannot understand the message being shared. It eliminates the need for the deaf to attend service when they are certain that their spiritual needs will not be met.
The Catholic church has taken some measures towards understanding deaf culture and developing approaches for addressing the needs. Longblin notes that in 2009, the church held a conference for deaf members. The conference led to the development of recommendations on the measures that the church can take to address the needs of the deaf community. Some of the recommendations included all priests undertaking deaf culture training, requiring that seminarians undergo a course in pastoral service for the deaf, and enhancing the number of people in the deaf community that undergo vocational training. However, Longblin describes that the implementation of the recommendations has been slow. The slow implementation of the recommendations indicates a lack of adequate initiative from Vatican. Further pressure from the deaf community may however be expected to lead to greater implementation of the recommendations and subsequent improvement in the participation of the deaf in church processes.
Approaches in assimilating and integrating deaf culture into the church
Enculturation of the deaf community into the church is essential to enhance its participation in faith. Broesterhuizen writes that enculturation should involve various activities including taking up the values of the deaf church, and including the experiences of the deaf into Christian life. It is hence vital that the church abandons the present perspective of deafness as a hindrance to learning the Christian faith. The church should instead incorporate the experiences and values of the deaf into the various rites essential to the Catholic faith including lectionary, liturgy, communion and catechism. The abandonment of the perspective that impairment is a hindrance to learning about Christ will create an inclusive church community. The church will become more willing ton including the practices of deaf culture in the process of teaching about faith.
It may be necessary for the church to empower the deaf to reach out to other deaf people. Broesterhuizen notes that it is challenging, and potentially impossible for a hearing person to undertake theology among the deaf. Hence, Broesterhuizen writes that the deaf should be empowered to preach the word of God in contexts where hearing people cannot be able to penetrate. It is explained that deaf people would be effective in spreading the word in various locations such as deaf clubs, deaf cafes, and deaf adolescents. Empowering the deaf is crucial to attaining the objective of inclusion and enhancing the contribution of the deaf to the spreading of the world . Jesus’ great commission was not only issued to the people that can hear, but to everyone that is a disciple regardless of the status of disability. The church should hence empower the deaf to undertake the great commissions as a means of enhancing the contribution of the deaf community.
Some of the potential solutions may be too radical to be adopted by the church community. For instance, Reinke notes that one of the probable approaches for enhancing inclusion is encouraging the members to learn sign language. The hearing church members learning sign language provides a means for enhancing the inclusion of the deaf community. Inclusion is based on each member of a group being treated equally and being capable of interacting with each of the members. When each of the hearing church members has learned sign language, it becomes easier for the members of the deaf community to interact with the other members of the church. The deaf community may hence gain the opportunity to take part in all the church processes and become active contributors to the faith.
It is further vital to ensure that lectio divina is aligned with the context of the audience. Bianchi indicates that one of the challenges associated with lectio divina is the alignment of the Biblical passage with the current experiences of the person. The scriptures communicated should hence be aligned with the experiences of the person. The deaf community has experiences that substantially differ from those of the hearing congregants. The experiences are a basis for the development of deaf culture that is distinct from the culture of the hearing congregants. The need to align scripture with experience and culture of the audience may potentially enhance the need for separate mass for the deaf. Some of the churches hold sign language mass specifically intended for the deaf community. The number of churches that have adopted the approach are however limited. There is a need for more churches to create mass intended for the deaf community not only due to the need for sign language, but also due to the need to select and read scripture that is aligned with the spiritual needs of the deaf community. It may then be possible to better deliver lectionary that is specifically suited for the deaf.
Most of the measures that the church has adopted have occurred at the local church levels. Some of the priests have taken upon themselves the task of enhancing the participation of the deaf community in the church. Russo gives the example of Jesuit Brother Rosenecker who took upon himself the task of training priests for ministry among the deaf. Rosenecker also published a newspaper that was specifically targeted at the deaf. The adoption of similar approaches across the church would make it easier for the deaf community to access the word of God. It will enhance inclusion by guaranteeing that hearing priests can serve the needs of all the congregants. Training priests for deaf service may for instance eliminate the need to hire deaf interpreters. Churches May consequently address the availability of financial resources as one of the factors that have limited deaf ministry.
Given that the church has become receptive to the ordination of deaf priests, the next task should be to increase the number of deaf priests serving the congregants. Deaf priests will be better able to serve the needs of the deaf community. For instance, Longblin gives the example of a deaf Milwaukee priest that provides the deaf with homilies and biblical resources that are better aligned with their journeys in faith. A deaf priest is better aware of deaf culture and experiences. The deaf priest can hence share spiritual resources that can more effectively address the needs of the deaf congregants. Hiring a higher number of deaf priests will make the church an environment that can more effectively respond to the needs of the deaf.
Churches should also consider redesigning the interiors of the chapels and houses of worship. Portolano gives the example of Father Terry who redesigned the interior of the church to address the language needs of the deaf. The deaf have unique language needs that rely on being able to see the gestures of the interpreter or the preacher teaching using sign language. The interior of houses of worship may not address the needs of the deaf congregants by making it challenging to see the signs communicated. It may hence be necessary for houses of worship to redesign the interior to ensure that the deaf can easily see signs. Conversely, it may be considered that advances in technology have led to the emergence of display technologies. Houses of worship may utilize display technologies as an alternative by situating display screens and projectors in strategic locations where the deaf congregants can clearly see the preacher and the interpreter. The language needs of the deaf community may then be adequately addressed to ensure that they understand the scripture message.
Evangelicals and Catholic priests further provide an example on the use of streaming technology in enhancing liturgy directed towards the deaf. Portolano describes that evangelical preachers utilize sign language online to serve the needs of the deaf community. Video streaming provides the chance to create vlogs and scripture readings in sign language. Video recording is appropriate because of its use of sight as the channel for communication and which is appropriate for the deaf. Video technology provides the chance for the church top access the deaf community that may otherwise not be adequately served by conventional services targeted at visual worshippers. It further the chance to make scripture accessible to deaf people by recording scripture readings in sign language. The deaf community members that are unable to read the English Bible may then use the vlogs as a means for accessing scripture. Use of video is convenient due to the challenges associated with attempting to translate English into sign language in text form.
Conclusion
The analysis indicates that the deaf community is expected to play an essential role in the community of believers. The participation of the deaf community is however substantially dependent on the church taking proactive measures to include deaf culture in liturgy, lection and catechism. The church should be ready to spend the financial resources required to create an environment where the deaf can access the word of God and share in its revelation. The adoption of deaf culture is substantially dependent on increasing the number of deaf priests or training hearing haring priests in deaf culture. The church should provide an environment in which the deaf can participate in church activities instead of being stereotypes as disabled and deserving help. Liturgy and lectionary should be adapted to the needs, culture and experiences of the deaf community. The deaf should be allowed to play a central in developing and implementing solutions intended to enhance the number of the deaf practicing their faith.
References
Bonneau, Normand. The Sunday lectionary: ritual word, Paschal shape. Liturgical Press, 1998.
Broesterhuizenn, Marcel. “The gospel preached by the deaf: conversation as complete form of language in pastoral ministry with the deaf.” Louvain studies 27, no. 4 (2002): 369-375.
Gaillardetz, Richard R. By what authority?: A primer on scripture, the magisterium, and the sense of the faithful. Liturgical Press, 2003.
Longblin, Michael. For Deaf Catholics, a Gesture from Pope Francis Meant the World, The National Catholic Office for the Deaf, 2018.
Iozzio, Mary Jo. “Anthony Russo, C. Ss. R. In Silent Prayer: A History of Ministry with the Deaf Community in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.” American Catholic Studies 120, no. 4 (2009): 89-90.
Bianchi, Enzo. Lectio Divina: From God’s World to our lives. SPCK, 2015.
Reinke, John. “The deaf can hear the word of god.” (2015).
Portolano, Lana. “Be Opened!: The Catholic Church & Deaf Culture. The Catholic University of America Press, 2021.