Press-Republican

Columns

August 5, 2013

Sober talk with Brazil's bishops

If Roman Catholicism can be compared with a fleet, then the Brazilian church has long been its largest aircraft carrier -- with an estimated 123 million Catholics, more than any other country on earth.

But that isn't how Pope Francis described this church during one of the less-publicized addresses during his epic World Youth Day sojourn in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of a rich and powerful vessel for the old establishment, he told Brazil's bishops that their church is now a humble sailing ship surrounded by the giant ships of globalization and Protestantism.

"The Church's barque is not as powerful as the great transatlantic liners which cross the ocean," said Francis, in the first of two lengthy, serious addresses to bishops from this region.

"Dear brothers, the results of our pastoral work do not depend on a wealth of resources, but on the creativity of love. ... Another lesson which the Church must constantly recall is that she cannot leave simplicity behind; otherwise she forgets how to speak the language of Mystery," said the official text. "At times we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people."

The Argentinean pope didn't have to do the math concerning Brazil's 275 dioceses. As noted in a July 18 analysis from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Catholic fortunes have clearly declined there in the 21st century. Between 2000 and 2010, Catholics dropped from 74 percent of Brazil's population to 65 percent. In that same period, Protestantism grew from 15 percent of the population to 22 percent.

The rise in Pentecostalism has been particularly striking, with 6 percent of Brazil's population attending these churches in 1991 -- compared with 13 percent in 2010.

The texts from Pope Francis made it clear that he thinks the evangelistic efforts of local clergy have been weak and, in particular, that they must regain a common touch that resonates with the poor, the weak and those yearning for spiritual experiences that transcend mere lectures.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Tobias_Sue_012914.jpg World in palm of our hands

    A newsroom workshop made writer Susan Tobias realize how far technology has come since she started working at the Press-Republican.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mulholland_Jonathan.jpg Running tips to get you in top form

    Different limb lengths, tighter muscles, stiffer joints, prior injuries all play role in determining your running style, Jonathan Mulholland writes.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • clute_cropped.jpg When children are put at risk

    Adults who deal drugs, commit domestic violence and other crimes with kids present are guilty of yet another crime, writes columnist Penny Clute.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Walace_Jolene 7-12_cropped.jpg Let these tips on planting trees take root

    You may think that digging a hole and plopping the tree in will suffice, and it will if you only want the tree to live a short time, columnist Jolene Wallace writes.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • ouellette.jpg Web doctor always gets it right

    I have access to the collected medical knowledge of all recorded history at my fingertips, columnist Steve Ouellette writes.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • colin_read.jpg Airport projects can benefit local economy

    Using a local workforce keeps wages and spending in the community if it can be done in a cost-effective manner, according to columnist Colin Read.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gast_Richard.jpg Producers can recycle tubing

    Project allows maple-syrup makers to conveniently dispose of their used tubing in an environmentally friendly way, according to columnist Richard Gast.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Terry_Mattingly.jpg Easter with doubters and the 'nones'

    Should more pastors ask this blunt question: "Do you really believe Jesus was raised from the dead?" wonders religion columnist Terry Mattingly.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Black_Peter_2014_cropped.jpg Canadiens are Canada's team

    The National Hockey League playoffs are underway, and for Canadiens fans, many of whom likely reside in the Montreal "suburb" of Plattsburgh, it is a time of hope and joy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • amy_ivy.jpg Is it time to plant? Not yet

    All we can do is wait and see how things get through, columnist Amy Ivy writes.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Peter Black: Canadian Dispatch

Lois Clermont, Editor

Cornell Cooperative Extension

Richard Gast: Cornell Ag Extension

Bob Grady

Guest Columns

Peter Hagar: Cornell Ag Connection

Health Advice

Ray Johnson: Climate Science
Gordie Little: Small Talk

Terry Mattingly: On Religion

Steve Ouellette: You Had To Ask

Colin Read: Everybody's Business

Pinch of Time