May 9, 2007

Latin America & The Catholic Church

I ran across this interesting article in the Washington Post yesterday, detailing Pope Benedict XVI first trip as the Pope to Latin America. Nearly half world Roman Catholics live in Latin America countries. The heart and soul of the Catholic Church rest in Latin American, but this region is also seeing people leaving the Church in waves.
Latin America is still predominantly Catholic, but not like it used to be. In Brazil, for example, as evangelical Pentecostalism has spread, the country's population has gone from being 89 percent Catholic in 1980 to about 64 percent today, according to a survey released this week by the Brazilian polling firm DataFolha.

Similar shifts are happening throughout the region, from Mexico to Chile.
As a Latin-American Catholic, I have also seen the people leave the Church for several reasons such as priest sandal, the lack of outreach or simply lost of faith. I have an evangelical friend who invites me to her Church all the time. It’s a big mega Church with a lot of driven people preaching the word of God. I attend Sunday Mass and a few events such as play during Easter about Jesus Christ and a New Year Eve celebration. It was a drastic change from what I was used too as a Catholic; a big choir singing upbeat music, a preacher who jumps up and down with excitement while he gives this sermon. My friend always seems to point out the Hispanic people or former Catholics who have join her Church, but I keep on telling her I’m going to stay a Catholic. I can understand why people are drawn to evangelical churches. They are using modern methods to preach God’s word while the Catholic Church seems stuck in the past.
Catholics have since taken some cues from the evangelicals, giving rise to the charismatic movement that is particularly popular in Brazil. Bishops who once denounced the idea of up-tempo Masses now support them, and traditionally conservative Catholic churches have altered their Masses to give them a more contemporary flavor. Some Catholic Masses are delivered in large, warehouse-style buildings filled to capacity with dancing crowds singing boisterous gospel music.

"For me, the more charismatic, the better," said Walter Duarte, 36, a carpenter who attended Mass last Sunday at one of the more traditional Catholic churches in Sao Paulo. "I myself am an example of someone who was drawn to the church by the charismatic movement. I was attracted by the music."
The Catholic Church must adapt to the change times. As a child, my parents baptize me, made me attend Sunday mass and enrolled me in religious classes. My Catholicism was ingrained in me. It has now become part of me, but for some people this is not the case. There is nothing holding them to the Church. I do have problems with some American evangelicals Churches who preach politics rather than God word, but they do a good job in outreach and keeping their members active within the Church. The Catholic Church must follow evangelicals lead and become more modern in its outreach in order to survive.


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