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.