Pope’s Brazil Visit Will Try to Stanch Loss of Faithful to Evangelicals

Pope Benedict XVI Pope Benedict XVI urged prayers of support for his trip to Brazil next week, his first pilgrimage to Latin America and an effort to strengthen a church battling to retain its predominant role in the region. Benedict plans to lay out his strategy when he opens a once-a-decade meeting of bishops from throughout Latin America in the shrine city of Aparecida, near São Paulo, Brazil.

Speaking in Portuguese and Spanish at his weekly public audience in St. Peter's Square, the German-born pope said he hoped the meeting would serve as a "stimulus to the disciples of Christ" and that it be would blessed with "abundant fruits."

While the pope is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of people at several open-air masses, including the canonization ceremony for Brazil's first native saint, the focus will be on his directions for countering the growing influence of evangelical Protestants as well as what the Vatican denounces as such secular trends as the recent legalization of abortion in Mexico City.

Nearly half the world's 1.2 billion Catholics live in Latin America, but millions have defected in recent years in what the Vatican-based Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes recently referred to as a "hemorrhage". Vatican opposition to Marxist-based liberation theology – which views Christ as a mere social liberator – is another issue.

The Vatican set the stage for the trip with its censure of a prominent champion of liberation theology in the region, the Rev. Jon Sobrino, condemning some of his works as "erroneous or dangerous." The May 9-14 pilgrimage will be the first lengthy trip as pope for Benedict, who turned 80 last month.

Although he appears healthy and robust and has never missed a scheduled event, he said in an interview last year that "I have to say that I've never felt strong enough to plan many long trips." Except for a stop in Ankara, Turkey, Benedict's travels have been confined to Europe.

The Vatican recently defended the pope, saying he was as concerned about poverty in the developing world as much as his predecessors. "It's not true that he's 'Eurocentric' as some claim," Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.

Mercopress

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  • Show Comments (5)

  • scott

    who cares
    An out of touch pope with an outdated dictorial religon with royalty-like hierachy, no wonder the number of young people are getting away from the church. Not to mention the legacy of the abusing priests has only added to the exodus. The vatican has no more clue about God’s will and presence than I do.

  • Ric

    And Consider This
    PopeÀ‚´s Brazil Visit Will Try to Stanch Loss of Faithful to Evangelicals

    How can it be the Faithful that are being lost to the Evangelicals? Would they not instead be the Unfaithful? No one is more faithful to his/her church than the Faithful Roman Catholic.

  • Ric

    Oh, yes, a truly malevolent influence. Those darn evangelicals! Right here in River City!
    As for fungi, if you canÀ‚´t keep Àƒ©m out of your government, at least try to keep the out of your toenails. ThatÀ‚´s todayÀ‚´s advice from The Amazon.

  • u.s.guest

    don,t send them here!!!
    Illegal Brazilian nationals in the u.s.a.,…have many evangelicals among them,..operating out of store fronts , garages, and flop houses,… u.s. law enforcement is looking into these so called religious groups with their “illegal alien ( Brazilian ) members… money laundering, aiding, abetting, harboring,employing, trafficking in illegals,…

  • Michael

    Keep Evangelicals out of Brazil
    If you want don’t want the same problems the USA has keep evangelicals out of Brazil. See web site below;

    http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/050307F.shtml
    I hate to hear evangelicals are having a growing infulence in Brazil. It’s like a fungus and when it reaches the government, well take a look at the USA…..

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