Ever heard statements by Catholics that "the future of the Church is in Latin America" and that we ought to give up on Europe and look to places like Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina for our future popes, bishops, priests and theologians? Let's have a look at an average "gathering" of Catholics in Sao Paulo, Brazil by New York Times journalist Larry Rohter (USC commentary in blue):
"On a cool and cloudy Saturday morning in late April...representatives of 50 base communities ["base communities" = parishes. The phrase sounds more "proletarian" than the term "parish", which reminds one of yucky authoritarian medievalism] gathered at the St. Paul the Apostle Church on the east side of this sprawling city, in an area of humble workers' residences and squatter slums.
With four priests present, readings from the Bible alternated with more worldly concerns: criticisms of government proposals to reduce pensions and workers' rights under the Brazilian labor code. The service ended with the Lord's Prayer and then a hymn [it would be interesting to know how many of these people, so zealous for this Saturday meeting on political issues, regularly attend Sunday Mass the next day]. The congregation sang:
In the land of mankindconceived of as a pyramidthere are a few at the topand many on the bottom
In the land of mankindthose at the top crush those at the bottom
Oh, people of the poor, people subject to dominationwhat are you doing just standing there?
The world of mankind has to be changedso arise, people, don't stand still!
Not exactly Salve Regina! This sort of thing is especially prevalent in Latin America, where liberation theology has deeply penetrated the Church, but there are some who would propose this bunk for the universal Church. Rohter continues:
Afterward, discussion turned to other social problems, chief among them a lack of proper sanitation. A representative of the left-wing Worker's Party [Workers = Marxist] discussed strategies to press the government to complete a new sewer project. Congregants agreed to organize a campaign to lobby for it.
Five Brazilian Priests Pose for Photos with their Congregation
In other areas here, liberation theology advocates have strong links to labor unions. At a May 1st Mass to commemorate International Labor Day [wait a minute, aren't they supposed to be celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker that day?], they draped a wooden cross with black banners labeled "imperialism" and "privatization" and applauded when the homily criticized the government's "neoliberal" economic policies, the kind Washington supports.
"We believe in merging the questions of faith and social action," said Valmir Resende dos Santos, a liberation disciple who brings base communities and labor groups together in the industrial suburbs here. "We advise groups and social movements, mobilize the unemployed, and work with unions and parties, always from a perspective based on the Gospel."
Article courtesy of Larry Rohter, New York Times, May 7, 2007 (source)
[*gasp* these people sound almost like Marxists! Somebody should let them know that Marxism was condemned by the Church in the 1937 encyclical Divini Redemptoris of Pius XI. I'm sure they just haven't heard about it! By the way, the Vatican did recently impose sanctions on the liberation theologians Gustavo Gutierrez of Peru, Leonardo Boff of Brazil and Jon Sobrino, S.J., of El Salvador. Leaders of the movement still remain defiant.]
Yep, as long as this kind of stuff goes on in the Church in Latin America, I wouldn't put too much hope in them. We'd make better use of our time preaching the Gospel to the Mongolians. (Click here to read the 1937 encyclical of Pope Pius XI Divini Redemptoris, which condemns Marxism.)
The superficiality of Latin American catechesis can be seen in the fact that only 20 years of Pentecostal proselytization perverted half the Catholic flock in a lot of places.
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