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A Discussion on Latin American Catholicism

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What are some major attributes of Latin American Catholicism? How is it distinct from Catholicism elsewhere?

In what ways have African religions influenced Latin American Catholicism?

Should Latin American Catholicism be considered polytheistic? Why or why not?

How have churches fostered or hindered social changes in Latin America?

How has Protestantism spread in Latin America in the past? Is it different than the factors that are promoting the current growth in Protestantism in this region? How and why?

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The solution provides a discussion on Latin American Catholicism.

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What are some major attributes of Latin American Catholicism? Identify and describe at least two distinctions and include how they are distinct from Catholicism elsewhere.

Catholicism is Latin America is extremely emotional and has the tendency to serve as an opiate rather than being an intellectually stimulating search for truth. The poverty and oppression in Latin America has been well documented. For many millions of Latin Americans, the Church is the only thing in their life that offers them hope. Religious ceremonies then take on an extremely emotional, celebratory or at times hedonistic flavor as people feel free to express their pent up feelings. This can be witnessed in ceremonies where believers travel on their knees many miles in order to earn a miracle from any one of hundreds of saints. Carnival is another example. Lent is a Catholic holiday where sins are forgiven. In Latin America the two weeks leading up to Lent are filled with hedonistic parties, similar to Mardi Gras, where people dance in the nude in public streets and engage in irresponsible sexual activity. They are assured of being forgiven during Lent so they can justify this behavior. This differs from Catholicism in America and Europe since in those places religion is more traditional and restrained rather than giving release to the baser emotions.

The second attribute of Latin American Catholicism is a strong influence in politics. Political oppression, civil wars and civil rights violations have been an ever-present aspect in Latin American. Military juntas have oppressed the common people of Latin America. In many cases the church has taken the side of the common man against the abuses of the government rather than siding with the established government. This differs from Catholicism in Europe and America where religion and politics are supposed to remain separate from each ...

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