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“UNDERSTANDING THE BACI-SOUKHWAN RITUAL – A Step Toward the Inculturation of the Lao Catholic Church”

Le Dac Thang, S.J. (Vietnam)

MA in Theological Studies - Systematic Theology
Adviser: Fr. Jojo Fung, S.J., Ph.D.


Since Vatican II, there has been an increasing awareness of the need to reconcile the Church’s teaching of “Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world” (LG 7) with the acknowledgement of and respect for the various cultures and religious traditions of other faiths. This thesis explores one of the most significant expressions of the Lao culture – the Baci-Soukhwan ritual – and its relation with the Christian faith. Accordingly, there are three questions to be answered: (1) What is the Baci-Soukhwan ritual as an anthropological phenomenon? (2) How is the Baci-Soukhwan ritual compatible with the Christian faith? (3) And what are the theological principles for the liturgical inculturation in this ritual?

Based on the studies on ritual and past researches on the Lao culture and the Baci-Soukhwan ritual, the thesis presents a general description of the performance and explanation of the meaning of this ritual. Besides, from online interviews with ritual specialists, laypeople, sisters and priests in Lao, the thesis provides a theological understanding on how Baci-Soukhwan ritual should be integrated into the Christian rites.

Both the compatibility and the incompatibility between Christian faith and Baci-soukhwan ritual from a theological perspective are painstakingly explained in this thesis. Therefore, the thesis also proposes some important theological principles for the inculturation of the Lao Catholic Church in practicing the Baci-Soukhwan ritual. Finally, based on the understanding of the Baci-Soukhwan ritual and the present situation of the Lao Catholic Church, the thesis gives several recommendations for the inculturation of this ritual, attending particularly to the social context of Laos and the crucial value of symbols in conveying the Christian faith.

Final Defense:

Date of Oral Defense: April 23, 2022 (Saturday), 9:00am

Board of Examiners:

  1. Emmanuel de Guzman, Ph.D. (Principal Examiner)
  2. Fr. Hartono Budi, S.J., Th.D.
  3. Fr. Tran Thanh Tan, S.J., S.T.D. The M.A.

Proposal Defense:

Date : Oct. 15, 2021

Board of Examiners: Fr. Jojo Fung, S.J., Ph.D., Fr. Hartono Budi, S.J., Th.D., Emmanuel de Guzman, Ph.D.

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Loyola School of Theology