It is safe to say that Catholicism has a stronghold throughout Latin America. Almost immediately after the first ships from Spain landed in the New World, the Catholic Church began exerting a profound and enduring effect throughout the whole Western Hemisphere.
The largest Catholic populations are found in Mexico and Brazil. The same can be said about Colombia. Over the past century, the Latino population has exploded, and so has the church.
What Connection Does Pope Francis have to Latin America
Contrarily, the Catholic Church has held sway over the area for the better part of 500 years. No Protestant Reformation occurred in Latin America like it did in Europe.
The Holy See has become virtually synonymous with Christianity as a whole. It took a while, but we finally have our own “Martin Luther,” “John Wycliffe,” “Jean Calvin,” and “Ulrich Zwingli,” who will reexamine the Bible and cause a continental split.
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The figures reveal a not-so-slow erosion of Catholic worshippers in Latin America to evangelical groups.
Statistics from the polling website Latinobarometro show that 81% of Latin Americans were Catholic in 1996, while only 4% identified as Protestant. The percentage of Protestants rose to 13% in 2010, while the percentage of Catholics fell to 70%.
To paraphrase the current president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Samuel Rodriguez, who attributes much of the movement’s success to the printing presses of the 20th century, evangelistic radio and television programmes, we find the following. It’s a game-changer in every sense of the word.
According to him, the Pentecostal charismatic movement has played a pivotal role in facilitating the first generation of the Hispanic Protestant Reformation.
Energy, volume, and vitality characterise the charismatic, evangelical spirit. So Paulo is the site of a Pentecostal megachurch costing $200 million, with seating for 10,000 people. So that the people might have a more authentic “Holy Land” experience, they are even importing pebbles from Israel.
Evangelicals in Guatemala are creating a name for themselves in the missionary community. A growing number of self-identified Catholics in the region also claim to be born again. The vast majority of Latino converts report a desire to develop a personal relationship with God while maintaining their cultural identity.
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, soon to be Pope Francis I, used the balcony outside Saint Peter’s Basilica as the church’s covert weapon in its campaign to reclaim Latin America. He’s not only the first Latin American Pope, but also the first Pope from outside of Europe.
He choose a name from the saintly canon because he wanted to be associated with someone who was deeply religious, reverent of the sacrament, and dedicated to helping the less fortunate. His importance to a church that has few defences against this rebellion cannot be overstated. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement is the only significant effort to date, and its leaders are primarily laypeople who are trying to incorporate charismatics within the Roman Catholic Church.
The cardinals did not forget that the Latino church treated John Paul II with the same devotion it showed a member of their own family, and so the Vatican is now exerting a top-down influence on the Latino church by tugging at its emotional heartstrings.
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According to Notre Dame theology professor Timothy Matovina, “Latin Americans always love the pope.” This will increase the cario (love, affection, and connection) people feel for him.
There is still one major strategy to be implemented. When addressing the crowd in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis did not use his native Spanish but rather Italian. Matovina predicts the audience will respond positively to the first time he addresses them in Spanish.
So what happens when Francis utters his first Spanish words? The war in Latin America will begin in full force. Thanks for read our Article What Connection Does Pope Francis have to Latin America.