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« We Are All Called To Be Evangelizers | Main | Who's really nostalgic? Richard McBrien, that's who. »

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Comments

Augustine

As a Brazilian myself, let me shed some light (or not) into the subject.

Looking back into my uncatechised upbringing and my immediate and extended family relationship with the Church, I'm afraid that the lack of true evangelization in LA in recent decades just compounded on underlying problems.

I'd mention one that comes to mind at the moment: as the almost absolute majority of Latin-Americans were Catholic, no challenges were posed to the faithful or to the clergy by either proselytism or a secularist state (which is not the same as a secular state). In this situation, it was only natural that the Church became more of a cultural habit.

When (mostly American) Protestants turned their attention to LA in the 60s, the Church, perhaps worried about the lack of depth in the faithful, thought that social justice would bring them to a closer relationship with the Church (or so I speculate).

Thus, I have the impression that the Church was caught by surprise when the Protestants and secularist challenges came about in the 60s, right when it was trying a new approach to make itself closer to the faithful.

Of course, this new approach was not only inopportune, but also flawed, for it should have sought a hook in popular piety to bring social justice, not the other way around. In this case, we can blame Lenin's influence on many institutions of learning, seminaries included.

Such Leninists can also be blamed for the Church insisting on this approach even as the faith became even shallower on one hand because of the influence of Marxist Materialism in the culture. On the other hand, Protestant sects started to offer the spiritual answers to their longing that some felt after the Church turned her back on their spiritual needs.

And Lenin is still very much active in the Church, which only now is awakening to its abysmal state of affairs. just in Brazil, for instance, the Catholic participation in the general population decreases by 1% point per year. Unfortunately, most of today's Latin-American bishops were the same clergy who were instrumental then to get to the current situation.

Risking to sound crude, the tide was only stemmed in the 90s because these bishops and this age group of the clergy has passed away. Not that the current clergy has dumped Lenin completely, but many have, enough to bring a fresher look at shepherding the flock.

Yet, the state of the Church is LA is deplorable. As my uncatechized generation raises another, the Protestant and Leninist converts become more numerous, to the detriment of the Church. And in my personal sampling, the Church, which until the last decade was still considered for Baptism, Marriage and Funeral, even by non-practicing Catholics, is starting to find herself irrelevant even for such milestones in the lives of the faithful (or not so faithful anymore).

It's no wonder that the Pope preferred to be present in the recent CELAM meeting in Aparecida. The Church in LA needs much of his attention, for I believe that he's keenly aware that LA might be the next Europe in less than a generation.

Finally, it's interesting to note that most Protestant sects in LA today are offshoots by the few who converted to the initial Protestant denominations in that missionary effort. Some of these sects are now expanding to North America and Europe. After all, Protestants beget protesters.

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