Category : Latin America & Caribbean

(Economist) Latin America’s new war of religion

Under the banner of “religion and traditional (ecclesiastical) privileges”, in 1858 Mexican Conservatives rose in arms against a Liberal constitution which declared freedom of worship and ended a rule preventing Catholic church property from being transferred to anyone else. After a three-year war, the liberal principles of religious toleration and the separation of church and state triumphed. In the following decades they spread across Latin America. Now, it seems, this 19th-century political battle has to be fought all over again.

The new blurring of the divide between spiritual and temporal realms owes much to the rise of evangelical Protestantism. Although 69% of Latin Americans were still Catholics in 2014, 19% were Protestants (26% in Brazil and more than 40% in three Central American countries), says a Pew poll. The number of Protestants is likely to have risen since then. Most are Pentecostals.

Read it all.

Posted in Latin America & Caribbean, Religion & Culture

(CT) Justo González –Reading Luke Through Latin American Eyes

When a Latin American theologian reads Luke, what themes get noticed that others might underplay?

When you read Luke with poor people who have no hope, or with people hiding from dictators and death patrols, you see things you might not see otherwise. The most important underappreciated theme is what’s often called “the great reversal.” This is the idea, from Luke 13, that when the kingdom of God arrives, the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

Or take Mary’s song (the Magnificat) from Luke’s first chapter (vv. 46”“55). It talks about God filling the hungry with good things and sending the rich away empty. Traditional readings of this passage aren’t necessarily wrong, but they can neglect the themes of wealth and poverty. We need a variety of perspectives, including the poor’s, to get at the full meaning.

What are American evangelicals most apt to overlook?

Compared to the other gospel writers, Luke takes care to emphasize the word salvation. We tend to overlook the economic, political, and social implications of this salvation. Luke helps us to see what it looks like for the poor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean, Poverty, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Pew Research) Religion in Latin America–Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region

Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics ”“ nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population ”“ and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Yet identification with Catholicism has declined throughout the region, according to a major new Pew Research Center survey that examines religious affiliations, beliefs and practices in 18 countries and one U.S. territory (Puerto Rico) across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic (See History of Religious Change). Today, the Pew Research survey shows, 69% of adults across the region identify as Catholic. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether. For example, roughly one-in-four Nicaraguans, one-in-five Brazilians and one-in-seven Venezuelans are former Catholics.

Overall, 84% of Latin American adults report that they were raised Catholic, 15 percentage points more than currently identify as Catholic. The pattern is reversed among Protestants and people who do not identify with any religion: While the Catholic Church has lost adherents through religious switching, both Protestant churches and the religiously unaffiliated population in the region have gained members. Just one-in-ten Latin Americans (9%) were raised in Protestant churches, but nearly one-in-five (19%) now describe themselves as Protestants. And while only 4% of Latin Americans were raised without a religious affiliation, twice as many (8%) are unaffiliated today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America

(BBC) The priest who built a stadium in small-town Honduras

“Latin America is a very, very particular church”, he says. As he sees it, the Catholic Church – particularly under Pope Francis – must try to work more closely with the local community.

In keeping with that sentiment, he has already overseen some impressive infrastructural projects during his 40 years in the town.

“First we started with the elderly. We used to gather the elderly people who die on the street during the night because of the cold and we built them a home,” he recalls.

“Then we built an orphanage for the street kids.”

The list goes on: a nutritional centre, a kindergarten, a bakery, a healthcare centre for local AIDS patients and even a prison to tackle chronic overcrowding in the penal system.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Latin America & Caribbean, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Anglican Alliance Latin America and Caribbean consultation opens in Sao Paolo

The Anglican Alliance consultation in Latin America opened on Monday with a discussion on climate change and the launch of the Alliance website

The consultation in Sao Paolo includes participants from all the Anglican Communion provinces in Latin America and the Caribbean, and from Africa, south and south east Asia, the UK and from Anglican development agencies.

It will consider priorities for development and relief work across the Anglican Communion, the advocacy strategy for 2012, and hear plans for distance learning modules being devised by the Open University for use by faith-based development projects.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean

Interesting Chart: Which countries match the GDP and population of America's states?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Asia, Australia / NZ, Economy, Europe, Globalization, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East, Politics in General, South America, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

ENS: Anglicans in the Americas plan mission gathering

Members of the six Anglican Communion provinces in the Americas will gather February 22-27 in San José, Costa Rica, for the Conference of the Anglican Churches in the Americas in Mutual Responsibility and Mission.

The February meeting will allow participants to tell their colleagues about their mission and ministry along with training opportunities. In addition, conference participants will spend Ash Wednesday working at various ministry sites with Costa Rican Anglicans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Latin America & Caribbean, South America

Fidel Castro Resigns as Cuba’s President

Fidel Castro stepped down Tuesday morning as the president of Cuba after a long illness, ending one of the longest tenures as one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world, according to Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party.

In late July 2006, Mr. Castro, who is 81, handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raúl Castro, 76, and a few younger cabinet ministers, after an acute infection in his colon forced him to undergo emergency surgery. Despite numerous surgeries, he has never fully recovered but has remained active in running government affairs from behind the scenes.

Now, just days before the national assembly is to meet to select a new head of state, Mr. Castro resigned permanently in a letter to the nation and signaled his willingness to let a younger generation assume power. He said his failing health made it impossible to return as president.

“I will not aspire to neither will I accept ”” I repeat I will not aspire to neither will I accept ”” the position of President of the Council of State and Commander in chief,” he wrote.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean

Philip Wright, Anglican Bishop, says love of country should motivate Belizeans

The word ”˜Democracy’ comes from two Greek words, demos, which means “people”, and kratos, which means “rule”. In a literal sense, democracy means “rule by the people”. It is a form of government with, as identified in an article I recently read, four key elements.

These are:

a) The rule of law that applies to all citizens, without exception,

b) The protection of the human rights of all citizens,

c) The active participation of citizens in politics and civic life, d) A political system for choosing and replacing the government through free and fair elections.

It is not an exhaustive list, but I believe it captures the essence of what a democracy is.

The representative democracy we have here in Belize allows for our people to choose their leaders and to hold those leaders accountable for their policies and their conduct in office. It is true that much power is invested in the leaders (once elected) and they make numerous decisions on behalf of the people, and hopefully in their best interest.

However, the citizens always reserve the right to criticize their elected leaders and those who represent their interests and concerns. They reserve the right to express their opinions in a peaceful manner and with respect for the law and for the rights of others ”“ including those who may differ from them. This too is an essential part of the successful progress of any democracy.

It should be clear, then, that much of a democracy is built on the development of a meaningful relationship between the people and their elected officials and those who represent their best interests.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Latin America & Caribbean

Latin America, Caribbean bishops Share Their perspective


Anglican bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean, meeting in San José, Costa Rica, May 18-22, released a declaration reaffirming their call for the Anglican Communion “to preserve its participative nature, diverse, ample and inclusive,” characteristics they say are essential to Anglicanism.

The declaration was signed by 21 bishops, including the Primates of Brazil, Central America and Mexico, and Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras, president of the Episcopal Church’s Province IX.

Saying they represent the “plurality and diversity that are universal characteristics of Anglicanism,” the bishops acknowledged that they “hold different positions on the themes that are presently discussed in the Communion.” However, they continued, “we have also experienced that the plurality and diversity we represent has become a rich source for growth, rather than a cause for controversy and division.”

The bishops unanimously expressed their determination “to remain united as members of the same family and will continue to come to the Lord’s Table, together.” They invited all bishops, clergy and laity “who identify with this vision to join together and work for an effective reconciliation, interdependence and unity in the diversity of our family of faith and so preserve the valuable legacy of which we are guardians.”

The declaration is intended to “renew and ratify” a position proposed in a statement that that was issued at the Latin America Anglican Theological Congress meeting in Panama City October 5-10, 2005.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Latin America & Caribbean