"I often hear the expression 'cultural diversity in the Church' in many conversations about catechesis. Can you briefly explain what it means?"
The United States from the beginning has been a culturally diverse society. This cultural diversity is usually defined in terms of ethnicity, race, and language — although there are other elements that are also important. Except for the indigenous groups that already resided in various part of the U.S. territory, most people living in the country can trace our background to an immigrant group from nearly every corner of the world!
Catholicism in the U.S. deeply shares in this experience of being culturally diverse. In previous centuries most Catholics in the country came from European countries. This did not mean that they all did things the same way or agreed on every aspect when practicing their faith. Just read any book about the tensions among Catholics in national parishes! Unity for these Catholics did not come from a sense of uniformity but one of fidelity to Jesus Christ, his Gospel, the Church, and the Tradition. As the children of Catholic immigrants became more integrated into the larger society, language stopped being a major marker of identity. However, cultural diversity continued to be a factor given regional differences. Also, race and ethnicity remained important for African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic, and Native-American Catholics. In the 1950s more than eighty percent of U.S. Catholics shared a mostly Euro-American background. In the second part of the twentieth century this dramatically changed.