Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pope Criticize Brazilian Churches for Exodus of Catholics

In the last World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis criticized the Brazilian Catholic Churches for the exodus of millions of Catholic followers to the Protestants. The Catholic Church in Brazil has lost several million followers, especially to Protestant evangelical churches that provide services in jails and slums and often attract new followers. According to Brazilian census data, the number of Catholics decreased from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million in 2010, with the Church's share of the total population dropping from 74% to 65%.  During that same period, the number of evangelical Protestants and Pentecostals has increased from 26 million to 24 million, an increase of 15% to 22% of the population in 2010. 

In the longest and most important speech, Pope Francis drove home a message he has emphasized throughout his first international trip at World Youth Day, the need for priests and young Catholics to shake up the status quo.  In the speech outlining the kind of church that Pope Francis wants, he asked bishops to reflect on why hundreds of thousands of Catholics have left for charismatic-Pentecostal congregations that have grown exponentially in recent decades, particularly in Brazil's slums or favelas, where their charismatic message have been welcomed by the poor. 

"Perhaps the Church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas," he said, "Perhaps the world seems to have made the Church a relic of the past unfit for new questions.  Perhaps the Church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age." 

As the Catholic Church continues to lose members in the region with the world's largest Catholic population, the Charismatic Catholic movement stands out as a source of hope.  One of the movement's pioneers was Jesuit Father Edward Dougherty, founder of Brazil's Seculo 21 Catholic satellite television channel.  "Pentecostals talk about the spiritual needs of the people, "Father Dougherty said, "Often their churches, their temples, are more open than the Catholic Churches, and their pastors more willing to visit people in their homes than Catholic clergy are."   As a result of the Charismatic Catholic Movements, many Catholics are returning to the Church.  Some converts are also being won over. 

While Catholicism is increasing in Africa and Asia, the numbers are decreasing in Europe.  Even the number of priestly vocations have declined in Europe.  However, In Finland, the number of priestly vocations are increasing as a result of the Neocatechumenal Way.  According to the Catholic World Report: 

Finland's high statistical ration of seminarians to Catholics is attributable to the controversial presence of a Neocatechumenal Way seminary in the nation's sole diocese of Helsinki.....

For his part, Father Magagna praises "the courage of the bishop of Helsinki, who, without fear, inaugurated a seminary of this type." He attributes the Neocatechumenal Way's success in attracting seminarians to its ability to resist secularization:  

Catholic World Report: Where The Laborers Are Few.




  1. There are these obvious fruits of the Way that nobody can deny. However, some people are out there trying to destroy our faith. I have made a serious soul search during the last couple of weeks, actually months... and came to the conclusion that the assertions of our opponents should be taken seriously, even the wildest and most exaggerated ones! Why? Because of the simple reason that we have to point out that these assertions don't make any sense at all.

    When we take them seriously and respond to them in a calm manner, then we show them how futile are all their attempts to destroy our faith. We have had to read a whole lot of nonsense in the comments both here and at the JungleWatch. Some of them were so surreal and madly violent that only some insane mind could have devised them. So what? Did we fall into despair? Not at all. We showed our patience and we prevailed. The same thing will always happen.

    We get the most absurd accusations, then e show our calm and peace and all these accusations simply fall apart. Not one single piece of these mad accusations can hit the smallest dent on our faith. No chance! Our most stubborn opponents eventually had to change the direction of their discourse and give up their previous dull attitudes. We managed to derail their arguments and now they lost the edge of their criticism. They go back to canned discussions that have been concluded already many years ago at different blogs. They pick up old stuff and throw it on us. But this does not make any sense anymore. If we resisted their attacks many years ago, we resist now and shall resist again and again in the future. This is that simple!

    One day they will join us, because they also realize that nobody else, but we are the future.

    1. Dear Zoltan,

      It also appears that the Charismatic Catholics, a movement which was also endorsed by the past four popes also carry charisms in them. Then again, I'm not surprised. Music can be a powerful tool in getting God's message across. The Bible says that St. Paul was able to speak the tongues of men and the tongues of angels. Tongues of angels........I have a feeling that St. Paul may have been a Charismatic.

    2. Zoltan, you choose to walk and I choose the traditional way. I do not condone anyone. I will never walk the way. I like tradition.

    3. Charismatic means led by the Spirit. If the popes like them, we should also accept and respect them. Some Charismatic Pentecostals may tend to overstep the boundaries of decency. But Rome provides guidance and guarantees that this is never going to happen to Charismatic Catholics! They may be very close to the Way, I guess.

      Paul talks about charismatic features like the gift of tongues. I would be glad to learn what this gift exactly means and how the Church would benefit from it.

    4. Dear Zoltan,

      They're not Charismatic Pentecostals. They're Charismatic Catholics. The gift of the tongue is language. A person who learns different languages very easily have that gift.

  2. I also thought Charismatic Catholic whom I can respect as they follow the Church and the pope! Those are the ones who might be quite close to the Way. ------ On the other side of the coin, Charismatic Pentecostals are a completely different kind of group, far from us. I have a lot of reservations about their preaching. Especially of their televangelists who buy a lot of air time at major television channels and make themselves known everywhere on the mainland. It is good that we have nothing to do with them.

    What you say about Paul is quite interesting. He writes in 1 Cor 14: 18-19:
    "18 I thank God that I speak with tongues more than any of you; 19 all the same, when I am in the assembly I would rather say five words with my mind, to instruct others as well, than ten thousand words in a tongue."

    He definitely had his ability to talk in tongues, a charismatic feature. He says in the same chapter:
    "27 If there are to be any people speaking in a tongue, then let there be only two, or at the most three, and those one at a time, and let one of these interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, then let each of them be quiet in the assembly, and speak only to himself and God."

    He even instructs others who speak in tongues. He says it is necessary to interpret the tongues by someone else, otherwise people would not understand what was said. I am not sure if this is about some foreign language the speaker learned before or not.