Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The pope in Brazil

Although the pope’s visit to Brazil was intended to stem the religious shift away from Catholicism (in Brazil and in Latin America more generally) it has simply highlighted why that shift is taking place. Before he was chosen, many in the developing world had hoped the new pope would be one of them (a front runner was in fact Brazilian) but instead got another aged white European.

Since his visit began, he made clear that he disliked just about everything he saw. Boz has the alphabetical list: “abortion, authoritarianism, capitalism, contraception, divorce, "ethical relativism", gay marriage, hedonism, indigenous religions, liberation theology, Marxism and Pentecostalism (along with Catholics who are too much like Pentecostals).” Add to that the media and popular culture in general.

He did canonize a Brazilian saint, in what Experimentador reasonably labels “Papal clientelism,” but that excitement wears off quickly. I could imagine a Latin American pope eventually restoring some energy to Latin American Catholicism. Having an 80 year old German give lectures about how horrible everything is in the country and region, however, is not likely to excite and invigorate people.


Experimentador 8:13 AM  

I think the Pope's act of clientelism (canonizing the first brazilian saint) is clearly a service to his already existing constituency, rather than to the overall public in order to "get more votes."

Who else, other than practicing catholics, cares about having a Brazilian saint?

According to what I heard in the Brazilian media, the sales of little crosses and pics of Galvão has gone way up in these days... But then again, as you say this type of excitement will wear off rather quickly.

Oh, and I would add one thing to the list of things the Pope disliked: the opposition (evangelists).

Greg Weeks 8:57 AM  

I agree, though perhaps I wasn't making myself clear enough--the sainthood is not about getting more votes, but about not losing more votes.

Miguel Centellas 10:05 AM  

I, too, was rather baffled by this pope. I liked the move towards a more charismatic church in the last few years; it's a shame this pope wants to put the brakes on that.

Camilo Pino 10:48 PM  

I wouldn’t classify this as clientelismo. That would imply a system of favors and protection. This is simple manipulation. By the way, this move may be more efficient than we think. The Catholic church lost its touch but it is still is the market leader.

Anonymous,  12:13 PM  

@Experimentador: Brazilians care. And I think you're right about this: Brazil is the more populous Catholic country in the world. Catholicism is still very strong there, but they are loosing ground for Evangelical churches, and they are loosing it fast.

The canonization of Frei Galvão is an attempt to regain the interest of "slipping Catholics". It will probably work - for a while.

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