Aparecida 59 – New Immigrants to Latin America

The Spanish, the French, and the English were the earliest but not the only groups to come to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Paragraph 59 seems to be referring to other groups that have come and brought their cultures to the mix that can be found in the region.

There are also communities of migrants who have contributed the cultures and traditions brought from the lands of origin, whether Christian or of other religions.

Both Christian and non-Christian cultures have come  – most notably with the arrival of slaves from Africa, many of whom brought their religions and cultures which, though sometimes hidden from view, have influenced the region.

Though Hispanic Catholicism arrived with the Spaniards and Portuguese, other religious communities have come and influenced the culture.

This diversity furthermore includes communities that have been formed by the arrival of different Christian denominations and other religious groups.

North American missionaries arrived in Latin America beginning, for the most part, in the nineteenth century. The British brought the Anglican Church, as well as several other churches to their possessions before 1800. But other mainline groups came to evangelize in the 19th century. At times, with the help of US mission societies, the countries were often divided up among various denominations. For this reason you will find Presbyterians in Guatemala with little representation in Honduras or El Salvador. You will also find Lutherans and Baptists (of the Northern US Baptists) in El Salvador. The presence of Pentecostals begins for the most part in the mid-twentieth century; more conservative evangelicals arrived a bit later. Some of these groups had a significant effect on the culture of the peoples who joined their churches.

But the bishops are concerned that, though it is important to accept cultural diversity, an overwhelming challenge to evangelization of cultures is a uniform culture which some forms of globalization promote.

 Accepting cultural diversity, which is now imperative, entails overcoming approaches that seek to create a uniform culture with approaches based on their own unique models.

It is interesting that the bishops see this uniform culture of individualism and consumerism as a major challenge and seem rather open to the other religions and cultures that have come from the outside.

A question that is not treated here is the relation to this “uniform culture” is related to certain forms of religion that come from the United States – especially the advocates of the “gospel of prosperity.”

Here is the USCCB translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.


About John Donaghy

lay missioner with the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras, since June 2007, living and working in the parish of Dulce Nombre de María.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization, Guest Writers, John Donaghy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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