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Evangelization needed to combat sects in Brazil, Pope tells bishops

Catholic World News - September 10, 2010

Meeting on September 10 with a group of bishops from Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI said that the Catholic Church has always been a crucial part of the Brazilian identity. But that identity is now challenged, he said, by the rapid rise of Evangelical sects.

The Pope remarked to the Brazilian bishops, who were finishing their ad limina visits to Rome, that Brazil has always been marked by “harmonious coexistence among people from different regions and cultures.” What is remarkable about recent changes in that country, he said, is the growth of influences that were “practically unknown just a few decades ago.”

The rise of Protestant sects, the Pope continued, testifies to “a widespread thirst for God.” But at the same time, the fact that so many people who were raised as Catholics now seek religious support elsewhere suggests that the evangelization efforts of their Catholic pastors has been “sometimes superficial.” “In this context it is necessary, first and foremost, for the Catholic Church in Brazil to commit to a new evangelisation which spares no efforts in seeking out lapsed Catholics and people who know little or nothing of the evangelical message, bringing them to a personal encounter with the living person of Jesus Christ Who is active in His Church,” the Pope said.

The Pontiff went on to say that Catholics must recognize the new influence of other Christian groups, and establish an ecumenical dialogue with them. Otherwise, he said, “the lack of unity is a cause of scandal” that inhibits evangelization. He cautioned, too, that true ecumenism should be characterized not by “doctrinal indifference” but by mutual respect and a shared commitment to serve Christ.

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  • Posted by: Obregon - Sep. 11, 2010 12:49 PM ET USA

    Already John Paul II was speaking forcefully on this issue in the 1980s so the problem of Protestant sects and their gain among the Catholic population has been here for years. Poor catechesis or no catechesis at all, dissent within the Church, and a cultural invasion is responsible for this situation not only in Brazil but throughout Latin America.

  • Posted by: raghanger - Sep. 10, 2010 10:07 PM ET USA

    I spoke to a person today who is from South America. This person, about 60 years of age, was raised as a Catholic and continues to be very religeous except not in the CAtholic Church. I asked why. The short response was that the focus of the church there was not so much on God and Jesus but on icons, statues and prayers to them. I did not get to talk about the Mass. They had as a result, when they became a US citizen, left the Church for the Protestant environment. There a problem here.

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