PopeWatch: Wittenberg Candidate Pope?





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:

> Francis’s Secret Friend in Caserta

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!

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  1. Francis’ version of social justice is not a satisfying substitute for Catholicism. It is unbiblical and it doesn’t feed the soul. Cardinal Maradiaga’s version is even worse. No surprise then that people are going where they are fed spiritually. I keep waiting for the “Francis effect”. Maybe we’ve been seeing it.

  2. Of course, the growth of the Evangelical churches in Latin America is paralleled by the growth of these same churches in North America. Here too ex-Catholics, both Anglo and Latin, are large percentages of their growth, along with ex-mainstream Protestants.

    Interestingly, the Orthodox churches are also seeing growth in Latin America (and the Philippines). The growth is smaller, but it is interesting that it is happening at all.

    The Catholic Church in Latin America has long been in trouble. For decades its membership has not financially supported it. It would be in even bigger trouble without donations from the Church in North America.

  3. . The wiki entry for evangelicals notes: ” Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of Evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism, noting, “Together they form a quadrilateral of priorities that is the basis of Evangelicalism.”
    I doubt that the Pope is being clear to them in meetings that he regards Christian fundamentalism as intrinsically a violent mindset…even if they never strike another person…evah…( La Vanguardia interview). He should be above board with them in meetings about this view as he breaks bread with them. They have no idea that they are Al Qaeda in the potential state….despite never hitting anyone or throwing artisanal bread at others across the table in such meetings.

  4. I think the problem originates from a global cafeteria catholic effect, which contributes to a lack of zeal, and a lack of clarity.

    So far, this is hard for me to say, we have not seen a lot of clarity from this Pope, we see zeal, but the scolding seems to be more on those who DO NOT choose to take the Faith like a cafeteria. I keep hoping that this is all part of a plan to end the cafeteria, especially on humanae vitae and all it’s effects, but I am really beginning to wonder what is going on. I only have JP II and Pope Benedict to measure by, I haven’t yet lived through a “bad pope”, I even have a hard time thinking that’s possible. Through it all I know God is trying to tell us something, perhaps many things.

  5. Luther, the “Pope of Wittenberg,” wrote about the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. I believe ten years from now Catholic historians will be writing about the Captivity of the Church Under the Bergollian Junta. The visuon of the Perrones is very much alive in this pope. At least he’s humble. He’s told us so time and time again.

  6. I agree with Thomas about the cafeteria catholic effect…. Global. Francis is just an echo of that liberal Catholicism.

  7. @SteveD,

    It’s only been 35 years. I’m glad Pope Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae, but he brought that problem on himself by bringing mixed signals. Not to mention all those bad bishops of the 60s and 70s were appointed by Paul VI. Then there’s all the liturgical changes (even official ones) uncalled for by the Second Vatican Council and even going against it. Then there are all the abuses liturgical or doctrinal that were rampant. Paul VI might have disapproved of them, but his total commitment to the path of “mercy” instead of severity sort of tied his hands.

  8. Bill Bannon wrote, “Bebbington notes four distinctive aspects of Evangelical faith: conversionism, biblicism, crucicentrism, and activism”
    What did the Apostles preach? It is well documented in Acts
    They proclaimed
    (1) the age of fulfilment has dawned, the “latter days” foretold by the prophets (Acts 2:16; 3:18, 24);
    (2) this has taken place through the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ;
    (3) by virtue of the resurrection Jesus has been exalted at the right hand of God as Messianic head of the new Israel (Acts 2:33-36; 4:11; 5:31);
    (4) the Holy Spirit in the Church is the sign of Christ’s present power and glory (Acts 2:17-21, 33; 5:32);
    (5) the Messianic Age will reach its consummation in the return of Christ (Acts 3:20; 10:42);
    (6) the preaching of the good news closes with an appeal for repentance, the offer of forgiveness and of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19, 25; 4:12; 5:31; 10:43).

    In other words, their preaching was (1) categorical, not argumentative; (2) concrete, not abstract; (3) concerned with facts and actions and, above all, with a Person; not with ideas or notions or reflections.
    How does our evangelisation compare with this model?

  9. Here In The USA, if one remembers the beginning of The Catholic Charismatic Movement, it was a start of Catholics with the Pentecostalism in cooperation with the Pentecostal Protestants, who preach fervently , while Roman Rite Catholic Pastors are preaching anything but Sin.
    I usually head to the Tridentine Latin Mass a few times a week and never hear watered down Homilies. As to the Orthodox Churches experiencing a certain growth, it is not surprising

  10. IAs to WHY Orthodox Churches are growing, in both North America and South America, well, combined with a Byzantine Divine Liturgy, which leaves me with Wonder and Awe , the Byzantines both Catholic and Orthodox do preach about Sin and the Consequences. Whenever I head to the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom at a Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, I listen to Homilies which feed the Soul much nourishment. Whenever I approach the Priest for Holy Communion, I do so “With Fear of The Lord and With Faith.”

  11. “Devastating inroads in South America?” Perhaps these believers are, as so many do, taking a side road, especially reading and learning the Bible, to return back to the main thoroughfare someday. Comin’ home.

  12. That is an amazingly optimistic, albeit completely erroneous, view of what is going on in South America. I have absolutely no doubt that the vast majority of those converts are lost to the Church forever, and the South American Catholic clergy seem as if they could mostly care less.

  13. I ran into an old friend the other day who announced she had left the Church due to “the scandals” and now belonged to a Protestant evangelical denomination. I asked her, “who is anymore delighted than the devil himself that some evil people had infiltrated the Church?” She said nothing, but invited me to a service. I told her I was not interested as the spiritual value of the Eucharist was something of such HIGH value ( as well as the graces attached to all our sacraments) that I hoped NEVER to abandon them. Needless to say, I added her to my prayer list.

  14. It bears repeating, reducing Christ’s Gospel of eternal salvation to one dimension of it, namely the social gospel, is a betrayal of it. The source of all kinds of poverty, whether material, educational, cultural is ultimately spiritual – man’s sinful alienation from God, and the only way of countering that is to preach and live the good news of the kingdom of God which is entered into from now by repentance from sin. We cannot and should not return to the errors of liberation theology, even by adopting a ‘softer’ version of it.

  15. Doanld R-I can and often do get right down there in the Slough Of Despond, cover myself piteously in bog mud, just reading headlines about the Church-any day, any source, any issue – and saying like the princess “I cannot spin the straw into gold.” And then I do get “amazingly optimistic” when I say “Master, we are perishing.” And then this Fella who can walk on water shows up; and He says “Take My hand, take My whole life too, for I can’t help falling in love with you”. Guy McClung, San Antonio.

  16. Donald, The excerpts of “the movie “Becket” are thrilling. The excommunication scene brings to mind the question of how many priests have been murdered in the womb by abortion.

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