Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Competing for Amazonian Souls – The Amazon Synod and Pentecostal Competition in the Global South

Amazonia Brazil Catholic Pentecostal evangelization indigenous paganism

While the Catholic Church adopts a preferential option for Amazonians, Amazonians themselves are opting for Pentecostalism. One of the most under-reported stories of the Amazon Synod currently taking place at the Vatican is the dynamic of religious competition in a region that included nine South American countries, most importantly Brazil. Since the 1970s the Church in Latin America, which is home to 40% of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, has been hemorrhaging members, mostly to Pentecostalism.

The landmark 2014 Pew survey of the Latin American religious landscape, for which I, Dr. Chesnut, was the lead academic consultant, revealed that a region that for centuries had been 95% or so Catholic was now only 69%. Strikingly, a number of Latin American countries, such as Honduras, Guatemala, and Uruguay were shown to be no longer majority Catholic. And as of 2018, Brazil, home to the largest Catholic population on the planet, 105 million parishioners, is only 50% Catholic. With 104 million Catholics, Mexico is poised to surpass Brazil any day now as the nation with the largest number of Catholics.

One of the main reasons for the pastoral focus on Amazonia are the region’s vulnerable Indigenous groups, though it must be pointed out that most inhabitants of the world’s largest rain forest are not Indigenous, such as in the Brazilian city of Belem where I lived in the early 1990s. Of the diverse demographics that constitute the population of Latin America, it’s the 8% who are Indigenous that have abandoned Catholicism more than any other demographic.  (more...)


No comments:

Post a Comment