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NYTs on the Pope’s Visit to Brazil

May 9, 2007

Brazil Greets Pope but Questions His Perspective

Very interesting article, which basically talks about the ground the Roman Catholic Church is losing in Brazil to Pentacostalism, and the influence of the highly poo-pooed liberation theology.

When John Paul II visited in the 80’s, 1 in every 9 or 10 Brazilians described themselves as Roman Catholic. This has dropped off to about 2/3 of the Brazilian population today.

One of the RC priests, a good looking guy with a great singing voice, who is reaching boat loads of people by “modernizing” mass with rock influenced church songs, and “showmanship”, has been conspicuously excluded from the Pope’s scheduled itinerary, and has been told to “tone it down” – church shouldn’t be entertainment.

Brazilians are not sure B16 understands them – the Christian religion isn’t “dying” as it is in secular Europe, and they basically see B16 as a European, preoccupied with the church and it’s needs in Europe, but perhaps, with little or no understanding of the church in Brazil.

The article also points out the differences between JPII’s papal visit and B16’s:

John Paul II’s first trip to Brazil lasted two weeks and included visits to squatter slums that so moved him that he donated his papal ring to one of the communities.By contrast, and in recognition of his more advanced age and reduced stamina, Benedict’s itinerary does not include any events of that nature. But he is scheduled to visit a treatment center for drug addicts.

“In the course of his activities, seeing how he responds to the problems he faces will allow us to make an evaluation of him,” said Eduardo Moreira, a 56-year-old metalworker from the industrial suburbs here. “We hope that he is coming not just to teach, but also to learn.”

JPII was a man of such charisma – he was very much able to communicate love and humility in his presence. He’s a hard act to follow, I’m sure. But to me, B16 really lacks that charismatic quality – that ability to convey the unwanted message in a way that, while you may not like what he’s saying, you know he’s saying it out of genuine love for you, the church and the world. JPII had that. Though I often disagreed with his teachings, I have a soft place for him in my heart.

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