Sunday, October 09, 2005

Protestants’ surge in Latin America worries cardinal

Brazilian Cardinal Hummes

VATICAN CITY (AP, Oct. 9, 2005) — A Brazilian cardinal on Saturday lamented the rapid growth of Protestant movements in Latin America and wondered aloud how much longer the region could be called Catholic.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes’ comments to the Synod of Bishops reflected increasing concern in the Roman Catholic Church about the competition for souls in Latin America and Africa.

Hummes cited Brazilian government and church data that found that Brazil’s Catholics, who represented about 90 percent of the country’s population in the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, had fallen to 83 percent in 1991 and 67 percent today (dramatic change if true!)

At the same time, for every Catholic priest in Brazil, there are now two Protestant ministers, he said, according to a summary of his remarks released by the Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out on a few occasions about the threats to the Catholic faith posed by Protestant groups.

In a homily on April 18, the first day of the conclave that elected him pope, he denounced the “dictatorship of relativism” in the world and cited the Protestant groups, as well as Marxism, liberalism, atheism and agnosticism, as threats to the fundamental truths of the church.

(The Pope has this backwards. The Protestant groups that are experiencing growth in South America and Africa hold to “to the fundamental truths of the church” if one defines "funndamental truths" as the teachings of Christ.)

More recently, in a speech to priests in northern Italy, the pope lamented that Protestants were attracting Africans looking for religion beyond their traditional faiths.

(If they want "religion" then they would not be interested in this kind of Protestantism. It is their rejection of religion that leads them to a real relationship with Christ as encouraged by these Protestant groups.

And what reason does he have to describe Protestantism as a proponent of relativism? The Cardinal obviously understands little about Protestantism, especially the growing Protestant groups in South America and Africa that he is referring to who are largely Pentecostal/Evangelical churches that are even more Biblically conservative than the Roman Catholic Church, since these flourishing groups hold to the supremacy of scripture and not to the changing opinions of Vatican teaching or ecclesiastical authority.)


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