Hell’s Bible has a piece about one way some people are trying to “revitalize” the Catholic Church in Brazil. Rather, this is how Hell’s Bible and those who work for the enemy against the Church want the Church to try to revitalize the faith. Such a path would enervate the Church, not revitalize her.
A Laboratory for Revitalizing Catholicism
RIO DE JANEIRO — At one new megachurch in São Paulo, a Roman Catholic priest who was a personal trainer before joining the clergy energetically belts out songs, rock-star style, before 25,000 worshipers. Other Brazilian priests are donning cowboy hats and crooning country tunes at Mass or writing best-selling advice tomes emblazoned with heartthrob photographs on the cover.
If there is any place that captures the challenges facing Catholicism around the world it is Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics and a laboratory of sorts for the church’s strategies for luring followers back into the fold.
Reflecting the shifting religious landscape that Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will contend with, Brazil rivals the United States as the nation with the most Pentecostals, as a Catholic monolith gives way amid a surge in evangelical Protestant churches.
Then there is the array of singing priests who belong to what is called Brazil’s Charismatic Catholic Renovation, a movement seeking to invigorate Catholic services with the kind of liveliness that parishioners often find at other churches. These priests have been embraced by the Vatican, but only to a point.
The most famous among them, the Rev. Marcelo Rossi, a 45-year-old former personal trainer, has sold more than 12 million CDs and has celebrated Mass in a soccer stadium filled with tens of thousands of worshipers. Still, he complained about feeling “humiliated” during Benedict’s visit to Brazil in 2007 when Catholic leaders prevented him from even getting close to the pope.
In an extension of the charismatic practices, some Catholic priests now perform “liberation Masses” resembling group exorcisms and welcome congregants who speak in tongues. While such aspects may be frowned upon by some in the Roman Catholic establishment, the charismatic movement has clearly struck a chord among many worshipers.
“Through this movement, many people are finding themselves again inside the church,” said Almir Belarmino, 53, a technician at a sewage treatment company who was one of 1,200 people attending a retreat here over the Carnival holiday for people in the charismatic movement.
“Why not dance in the place where the presence of God is so great?” Mr. Belarmino asked. “Joy and excitement are part of the worship we do.”
Catholic priests’ blending of new practices into their services is nothing new in Brazil. Many people, for instance, say they are Catholic while practicing African-derived religions like Candomblé, which merges the identities of Roman Catholic saints and African deities. “Religious practice in Brazil is often highly hybridized,” said Stephen Selka, an expert on African diaspora religions at Indiana University.
When people start talking about S. American candidates for the papacy, remember this article.