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Vanishing Catholics
by Juliana Elo
Issue 3
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The choice of a Polish pope was a surprise in 1978, but Karol Josef Wojtyla wasn’t elected Pope from nothing. Born in Communist Poland, the choice for John Paul II was strategic. During his pontifado, he was an anti-communist activist, and it’s said that this Pope helped to defeat the socialist dictatorships in Eastern Europe and to “cool down” the Cold War.

But how much help does the Catholic Church indeed offer? While the world inquires about the Brazilian government’s omission in the act of slaughtering street children who were killed while sleeping in front of Candelaria’s church in Rio, I wonder why 50 children searching for shelter by a church door were not allowed inside the church.

Could it be that the Catholic Church became so attached to its traditions that it forgot its essence? What is the Catholic Church based on after all?

The Catholic Church in Brazil is an elitist institution. I, myself, studied in a Catholic school my whole childhood. The monthly fee was separatist. During the 13 years that I studied there, I remember having one black colleague, who was hard working and diligent. She probably saw it as a chance to have better future than her mother who was the school’s cleaner. But the day that I realized she wasn’t studying there anymore, her mother wasn’t working there either.

While the Catholic Church was sitting in its beautiful temples discussing Libertation Theology on the top of the hills, small suburban evangelical churches propagate. Even the controversial Universal Church, won the upper classes sympathy when it gave an artesian well to people, standing up to the “Dryness Industry” in North East Brazil – where owners of latifundiums have the power over the water and over people’s destiny. Over the past decade, evangelical churches have spread from downtown to uptown.

Brazil is still said to be the biggest Catholic country in the world. If, after the impressive number of followers lost by the Catholic Church, Brazil still is the biggest Catholic country, we can have an idea of how much power the Catholic Church has lost all over the globe.

It is no wonder why São Paulo’s Archbishop, dom Claudio Hummes, famous from his emphasis on social justice, is now indicated as one of the three favourites to succeed John Paulo II, so let the land of football and carnival also be the next Pope’s country.

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