Fr Cristino Bouvette, who was instrumental in preparing the liturgies for Pope Francis’ visit to Canada, describes how he always wished for the culture of the Church and Indigenous culture to work in harmony.
By Francesca Merlo
As Pope Francis begins his Apostolic Journey to Canada, teams behind-the-scenes have spent months studying and preparing everything to perfection.
Fundamental for any papal journey are the liturgies, which for this particular “penitential pilgrimage” have been conceived to help in the process of reconciliation and healing for, and with, the indigenous peoples of the country.
It is for this reason that Fr Cristino Bouvette was instrumental in the preparation of the liturgies, which will accompany the people of Canada, and those following worldwide, as the Pope travels to his three Canadian destinations between 24-29 July.
Church and culture
As an indigenous Catholic priest, Fr Bouvette describes how he was always deeply moved growing up, “to see the rich tradition that is a part of our cultural expression.”
Speaking to Vatican News’ Christopher Wells, he spoke about the harmony between the tradition of the Church and the tradition of this culture.
“I always hoped that there would be a way that we could make the two exist together harmoniously,” he said.
Fr Bouvette noted that “the most beautiful elements of both, wherever they are, are complementary” and in recalling that his first parish assignment was on an indigenous reservation, he has had the opportunity to “really try and see how I can make that work and allow the richness of our Catholic faith to both inform and be informed by the richness of different indigenous cultural expressions.”
Culture in vesture and music
In this regard, continued Fr Bouvette, as people watch and follow the various liturgues throughout this papal journey, he asks that they “take note of the vesture that will be worn” as it has been carefully prepared with indigenous art in mind, “so as to both signal an affirmation of and the valuing of that distinctive art form, while also using it to convey a message of faith. So that, we hope, will also be become clear and then to be seen among those who are participating in something, for example, like the offertory procession in their distinctive garb.”
He then spoke of the music that will be used. He asked that people be made aware of the nature of the drumming, asking themselves what is the meaning of that drumming, and listening to what the words that are being sung are saying.
“These are all elements that I hope will show the acculturated element of what we are doing that makes it somewhat out of the ordinary, but yet also show how harmoniously they coexist together.”