What is the Church's response to Evangelical efforts in Latin America?


#1

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?


#2

[quote=Falling_Rain]1.) What does the Catholic Church in general make of these types of organizations and events?
[/quote]

Generally speaking, that the Church has a lot of work to do to make up for decades of self-imposed neglect in catechesis. Some Catholic leaders may worry about “sheep-stealing” by such organizations, but most likely know that if the sheep had been being tended to properly, they wouldn’t have been carried off by the “wolves” (which is not intended as an insult to the Evangelicals, but merely as an extension of the metaphor).

[quote=Falling_Rain]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?
[/quote]

Probably precisely because they had not been properly catechized in their homes and parishes by the lay and clerical Catholics entrusted with their spiritual care.

[quote=Falling_Rain]3.) Can you recommend any resources to better understand the past and present role of the Catholic Church in Latin America?
[/quote]

For a popular history on the Church in the Americas, written at the high school level, I recommend Christ and the Americas by Anne W. Carroll. For the situation in Latin America today, you might try a series of articles written on the subject by the National Catholic Reporter, titled Latin America Today. While the NCR tends to be liberal in its editorial positions, its journalism is usually considered to be very good. If you feel comfortable straining out editorial opinions with which you may not agree, you might find some valuable information in the series.


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