Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has a fascinating look at the relationship of Pope Francis with the evangelicals who have made such devastating inroads among the Catholic populations in South America:
ROME, November 19, 2014 – With the mastery for which it is known all over the world, the Washington-based Pew Research Center has conducted a survey on a massive scale that gives substance to a fact that was already known in general terms, the startling decline of Catholic membership in the Latin American subcontinent:
> Religion in Latin America. Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region
In the geographical area that is used today to indicate the new center of mass of the worldwide Catholic Church, midway through the last century almost the entirety of the population, 94 percent, was made up of Catholics. And still in 1970 Catholics were in the overwhelming majority, at 92 percent.
But then came the collapse. Today the proportion of Catholics is 23 points lower, at 69 percent of the population. The negative record belongs to Honduras, where Catholics have dropped to under half, from 94 to 46 percent. To get an idea of how sharp the decline has been, it should be enough to think that it has taken place entirely within the time span of the episcopal ministry of Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and coordinator of the eight cardinals called by Pope Francis to assist him in the governance of the universal Church.
The collapse in the number of Catholics has been accompanied everywhere by the exuberant growth of “evangelical” and Pentecostal Christians, of Protestant descent. This was known too, but the Pew Research Center has highlighted that those who are passing from one membership to another are not usually the most lukewarm in their faith, but the most fervent.
The converts to the “evangelical” communities turn out, in fact, to be much more dynamic in propagating the Christian faith. And there is also a difference in helping the poor. While the Catholics assist them and that’s it, the “evangelicals” are not only more active in works of charity, but also do not miss the opportunity to preach the Christian faith to the poor.
There is also a great discrepancy in religious practice. In Argentina, for example, the “evangelicals” who put great emphasis on religion in their lives, pray every day and go to church every week are 41 percent, while the Catholics are just 9 percent and take last place in the rankings together with Chile and secularized Uruguay.
The survey of the Pew Research Center also demonstrates that converts from Catholicism to the “evangelical” communities are not drawn by greater leniency on the matters of abortion or homosexuality.
The reality is the opposite. Those most resolute in opposing abortion and marriage between persons of the same-sex are found among the neo-Protestants, not among the Catholics.
In Argentina, for example, more than half of Catholics, 53 percent, say they are in favor of homosexual “marriage,” which is already legal in that country. While among the neo-Protestants those in favor are 32 percent.
The survey of the Pew Research Center is a must-read, rich as it is in data on this epochal phenomenon.
And it is therefore understandable that a pastor like Jorge Mario Bergoglio – who as an Argentine has experienced in person the collapse of Catholic membership in his country and on the continent – should wish to act accordingly.
Otherwise there is no explanation, in fact, for the incessant efforts that Pope Francis is undertaking with the world leaders of those “evangelical” and Pentecostal movements that in Latin America are the most fearful competitors of the Catholic Church. Not to fight them, but to make them his friends.
It is an effort that he began long before his election as pope, and that most recently had its most conspicuous moment in the visit that he made to Caserta last July 27 to meet the Pentecostal pastor Giovanni Traettino, who has been his friend since he was archbishop of Buenos Aires:
In the addressee gave on that occasion, Pope Francis presented his vision of ecumenical relations as”unity in diversity”: a sort of universal Church in the form of a prism of which the Catholic Church would be one facet, on a par with the other Churches and denominations.
It is not clear how Francis might harmonize this vision of his with what is stated by the previous magisterium of the Church in matters of ecumenism. The fact is that he takes it greatly to heart, as emerges from the frequent informal talks that he gives to one or another of the “evangelical” pastors he encounters.
Pope Bergoglio usually receives them at Santa Marta. Or he reaches them in various places of the world with live video messages.
Go here to read the rest. It is beyond comprehension why, considering the interest that the Pope has in the evangelicals, he seeks to implement changes in the Church that will only increase the number of Catholics leaving the Church and becoming Evangelicals. Soft peddling the opposition of the Church to abortion and homosexual conduct, getting the Church involved in left wing political agendas, allowing divorced remarrieds to partake of communion without annulments, etc, seeks to replicate on a global scale the missteps in South America that caused the Church to shrink and the evangelicals to prosper. PopeWatch suggests humorously that perhaps we have a “Wittenberg Candidate” Pope!