I just now came across the following:
- In Brazil, pope to face a church losing hold
Priest shortage, evangelicals represent challenges
By Monte Reel
Washington Post, via MSNBC
Updated: 4:02 a.m. ET May 9, 2007
This article said some things I expected, such as the following:
Latin America is still predominantly Catholic, but not like it used to be. In Brazil, for example, as evangelical Pentecostalism has spread, the country’s population has gone from being 89 percent Catholic in 1980 to about 64 percent today, according to a survey released this week by the Brazilian polling firm DataFolha.
But there were also some surprises (to me, anyway). In particular:
Young people have shown a greater reluctance to join the clergy, resulting in a priest shortage that is 10 times more severe regionwide than it is in North America or Europe.
“There is a trend here — even among priests — that people should be more free to follow their own conscience, and there’s a growing distance between most Catholics and the church’s hierarchy,” said the Rev. Luiz Roberto Benedetti, a Catholic priest who is a professor of social science at the Catholic University of Campinas, near Sao Paulo. “It’s a trend that goes in the complete opposite direction of the message that the pope wants to send.”
Very interesting, and quite contrary to Philip Jenkins’s characterization of the Catholicism of the southern hemisphere, in general, as a hotbed of Catholic traditionalism and love of hierarchy. (See The Next Christianity by Philip Jenkins, originally published in The Atlantic, Volume 290, No. 3, October, 2002, about the recent explosive growth of the more fanatical forms of Christianity in non-Western countries.)
I would be interested to hear from anyone who can give me solidly sourced information about religious trends in Latin America.
(For more about religious trends in general, see the many articles listed on my page about The growing number of Christians of kinds which inherently fear demons, Satanists, witches, occultists, Pagans, and atheists.)