Catholic spirituality in non-Catholic Hispanic churches?

Do non-Catholic Hispanic congregations incorporate any aspects of Hispanic Catholic spirituality, or is it all just evangelical Christianity translated into Spanish? For instance, how would it be viewed for a Hispanic Pentecostal Christian to have a devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, or to light prayer candles to various saints? Do they just give all of that up?

I realize that more “Catholic-like” denominations, such as Episcopal or Lutheran, could accommodate this — but do they? I would think the less “Catholic-like” denominations, such as Baptist, Holiness, Church of God, independent churches, etc., could hardly incorporate this into their spirituality. Do they tell converts “put all of that aside, we know you grew up with it, it’s part of your culture, but that’s idolatry” or something like that?

In Brazil, some of the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches go in for Jewish imagery and symbolism, much to the annoyance of the local Jewish community. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, which is the biggest and most successful of them, opened its new headquarters in São Paulo a few years ago, named Solomon’s Temple:

Outside the Temple, a monumental menorah:

The menorah motif is repeated in the panels along the far wall:

This is the church’s founder, “Bishop” Edir Macedo, preaching in his Temple:


Looks like the Judaizer heresy all over again.



If we’re talking Pentecostal or charismatic, there are parallels between Catholic spirituality and Pentecostal spirituality that could be transferred, such as belief in miraculous signs, wonders and visions–not particularly related to saints though. We have our own version of sacramentals (though we wouldn’t call them that)–carrying around vials of anointing oil or placing anointed prayer cloths on the bodies of the sick.

Wow. Just wow.

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I hadn’t thought of that. There is a Hispanic Pentecostal Holiness church near my home and they have banners outside that speak of healing and miracles being performed within. I suppose they could always use prayer candles (the kind that come in long glass jars) with an image of Our Lord on them, if not Our Lady or the saints.

I don’t have any direct experience with Hispanic Pentecostal churches, but I haven’t encountered prayer candles in a Pentecostal church before. It could happen, but I would find it odd. Pentecostals are pragmatic people; why use candles when we have electric lights installed in the church lol. Though, I’m speaking from an Anglo-American context.

Hispanics aren’t really a unified group, that’s kind of like saying that all English speakers are the same. Our Lady of Guadalupe is more specifically a Mexican thing, and some Hispanics aren’t even Latin American, the word itself refers to Spanish speakers and does include people from Spain, contrary to a Dominican I got in an argument with a some years ago. There’s no easy answer to this, because look at the demographics of Spanish-speaking countries, Argentina has a lot of people of Italian descent, most Mexicans are mestizo, Peru has even had a president of Japanese descent , there’s not really such a thing as Hispanic culture, it’s a bunch of different cultures that speak the same language. I know in Central America, especially amongst amerindians, although I’ve met people from Central America that are of Italian descent, including one that is half Italian from Guatemala, they are becoming Pentecostal. That wouldn’t be such a problem, but the problem is is that a lot of these Pentecostals are former Catholics. Brazil, which is not a Hispanic country since they speak Portuguese and not Spanish, also has a lot of Pentecostals. I’m not aware of any strong liturgical tradition other than Catholicism that is popular in Latin America, other than maybe a few Orthodox Churches, because some of the countries do have rather large Middle Eastern and Eastern European populations.


I was using the term to refer to people in the Western Hemisphere who have traditionally spoken Spanish, or come from cultures that are historically Spanish-speaking. I am aware they can be of any race. I do not think of European Spaniards as being Hispanic. Likewise, Brazilians, Guyanese, Surinamese, and French Guianois are not Hispanic. Belize is kind of a gray area. A case could even be made that Chileans and (especially) Argentinians are not Hispanic, though they do speak Spanish — their cultures are more pan-European. As you allude to, it’s a pretty generic term, and the Hispanic world is extremely diverse.

Brazil is a special case I believe. When I was there I noticed a sizable number of people who are Christian but also believe or practice forms of Afro-Brazilian spiritism, something called Macumba.

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When I did a (Methodist-based) mission trip to Rio Bravo, Mexico, just across the Texas border, we attended a Methodist church service, and I found it curious that the songs they were playing were contemporary Christian hits from the United States, only translated into Spanish. There may have been a traditional hymn, but I couldn’t say for sure now.

Looking back, I’m a bit disappointed by that…universal music. Makes me think of the church opting for commercialism and entertainment as worship. Great songs for the radio though.

The Methodist-Pentecostal Church of Chile is very Pentecostal in practice and does not have any hints of Catholic spirituality like candles from what I remember, although it does have some unique features that developed over time.

For example, some parishioners spin and dance in place in a unique way — like a whirling dervish of sorts — when they feel overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and emotion during worship. I witnessed this a few times. Some outsiders might consider it a distraction, but the practice is considered a form “dancing in the Spirit” by them and is considered holy.

You will also see something like this in Appalachian Pentecostal churches, though I assume the Chilean “whirling and twirling” is more flamboyant and animated. I won’t post YouTube links here out of respect to the people who are caught up in these errors — they know no better and, I assure you, would never, ever listen to the Catholic point of view (I speak as one of Appalachian heritage myself) — but you can find videos of this in abundance.

One thing I find disconcerting is when Protestant churches try to confuse the people. They advertise that they have “Misa en Espanol” They use Catholic images and maybe a Catholic lectionary but then the people think that they are praying in a Catholic Church.

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