I am a non-Catholic Evangelical who is considering joining the Catholic Church. Please help me to understand the following: I have spent a lot of time in Latin American countries, all of which have historically been Catholic. In these countries I have come across many Protestant missionary organizations and fervent Evangelicals whose life work consists in inviting residents of those countries to come to know Christ, despite the fact that the Catholic Church has been working there for hundreds of years. As a specific example, just this last September in Quito, Ecuador, the Billy Graham organization held an open-air stadium event which drew 45,000 people, 14,000 of whom are reported to have come forward to make a decision for Christ.
My question has multiple facets: 1.) What does the Catholic Church in general make of these types of organizations and events? 2.) Why do these thousands of new believers feel the need to “come forward” if, as is likely the case, many if not most of them have grown up in the Catholic Church? 3.) Can you recommend any resources to better understand the past and present role of the Catholic Church in Latin America?