Latinos connect religion, politics; want charismatic experience

Latinos connect religion, politics; want charismatic experience

Since modern journalism considers reporting survey results as news, we have yet another survey to discuss. This one found that “more Latinos view religion, politics as intertwined.” To put it another way, most Latinos have not yet mastered the trick by which we compartmentalize our lives into little boxes. The “religion box” only comes out for an hour on Sunday while the “politics box” gets to see the light of day the rest of the week, instead of the way it should be, which is that our faith is part of our overall personal makeup and informs our whole lives.

In other findings, the survey said:

When it comes to political loyalties, religion trumps ethnicity: Hispanic Catholics, who make up two-thirds of the Hispanic population, are solidly Democratic. But born-again or evangelical Hispanics, at 15 percent of the Hispanic population and rising, favor Republicans, though by a much narrower margin.

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The survey also indicated that 54 percent of Hispanic Catholics identify themselves as charismatic, compared with about 12 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics.

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Lugo said Catholic leaders will be challenged to incorporate clapping, shouting, and even speaking in tongues into worship, a potential point of conflict in an institution based on tradition. Those issues will be brought into relief next month when Pope Benedict XVI visits Brazil, the world’s most populous Catholic country, where Pentecostals are making inroads.

The implication is that unless US Catholics embrace such things, we’re going to continue to lose Hispanic Catholic to Pentecostal sects at an alarming rate. On the other hand, by the process of inculturation and proper catechesis, they could become less dependent on such outward signs and see beyond them to the truth that the Catholic Church is the true Church. Not that such things are necessarily incompatible with the Catholic faith, but that they are not so necessary to the expression of faith that you would have to leave the Church to find them.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
4 comments
  • Dom,

    It is necesary to take into consideration the aggressive evangelization done by the Protestant sects (the Alleluias) and the Mormons (the Mormones) in Mexico and here among the Mexican Americans.

    In my experience, the Mexican Catholic is so poorly catechized they have no intellectual defenses against the emotional lure of those evangelists, so you are correct about proper catechisis.

    However, the Mexican soul tends to be ultimately romantic and responsive to strong emotions and beautiful “things”.  In my opinion, they need to find those things in the Church too.  Don’t we all when we think about it?

  • Perhaps more beauty in the churches and liturgy would be an inspiration.  A Catholic Culture could be very inspiring, Eucharistic Processions, parades on the Feast Days… as I know happens in parts of Mexico.

    The trouble with emotions is that they runs so fickle.  Depending on an emotional appeal leads to burn out and doesn’t attract the necessary other half. 

    As Dom points out so well, the tradition and the truth are must better rocks to build the solid foundation.

  • KaleJ,
    I want to clarify.  I could not agree more with the idea that the Truth, taught and learned must be emphasized. The lack of proper catechesis in both Mexico and to a lesser extent in the United States is very obvious.

    I do also believe, along with many others, that given that authentic catechesis, the heart and the eyes must also be educated so that the whole person is catechized. Maybe it could be said that the knowledge is the words, and the emotions the music of a well developed faith life.??????

  • I think it is important to note that one of the great errors people make when reporting on the Latino church is that they make too many simplistic assumptions.

    Many Latinos in the US come from great pain and suffering in their governments, some have been imprisoned or suffered some kind of harassment for their faith. (i.e. One of my former parishioners at a previous parish had a gun put to his head by a Salvadoreño soldier when he was ten years old.)

    So the general idea is that these people are simplistic people with a simple faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. Further, the Charismatic Renewal serves as a good opposition to Liberation Theology which also is prominent in Latin America.

    At our parish we hold a Spanish language Charismatic Revival meeting every Sunday Night with lay preachers who take great pains to ensure they are speaking orthodox theology. It is recorded and can be heard at http://www.asambleasanbenito.com as the audio-podcast. (broadband required) From there we also make confession available and invite those who do not attend mass (very few) to come to mass on Sunday Mornings. 

    Latinos also tend to be very evangelical about their faith and, contrary to the comments, quite serious about teaching the faith well.

    Yet here they also suffer at the hands of North American Catholics. At one Catholic school, Latinos were forbidden use of classrooms in which to learn their faith. They had to make do with makeshift classrooms in the corridors, stairwells and in the foyer outside bathrooms in the school while surrounded by empty classrooms that the North American students used for religious education on another day. The priest finally gave it to the school faculty right between the eyes during a school mass when nothing else worked to change the school staff’s minds. The Latino community got use of the classrooms and the priest was transferred.

    In another parish a North American told the parishioners that they were not welcome unless they spoke english.

    Yet, they patiently come to live their faith. As for the situations they suffer, I think the North Americans can also be accused of bad catechesis. Have you spoken to anyone from VOTF lately?

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