Church dying or flourishing in Latin America?

Don’t cry for the Catholic Church in Argentina or anywhere else in Latin America.

The church may have lost privileged status in many nations, and is dropping some market share to a rapidly growing Pentecostal movement.

But the combination of increasing religious freedom and competition is also fuelling a Catholic renewal movement, and equipping the church with the community-based revival necessary to meet challenges from the prosperity gospel movement to the secularisation of many Latin American nations, analysts say.

Not to mention that concern over Pentecostal successes played a role in the election of the first pope from Latin America, an Argentinian archbishop who is winning widespread regional acclaim for his humble, pastoral approach.

Greater attendance at Mass. The flowering of a Catholic charismatic movement with lay leadership and culturally sensitive worship that also shares the Pentecostal commitment to evangelism. And a revered global leader emerging from its ranks.

A church in Latin America that was in danger of becoming a stale religious monopoly – witness the malaise throughout much of Western Europe – is reasserting itself in what is a vibrant religious landscape from Mexico to Brazil, according to some researchers. Continue reading.

David Briggs writes the Ahead of the Trend column for the Association of Religion Data Archives. He is executive director of the International Association of Religion Journalists.

Source: Huffington Post

Image: The annual celebration of Saints Peter and Paul in San Ana, Bolivia, Stephen Davies

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