home
RSS
The pope's mixed legacy with Latino Catholics
Pope Benedict alienated Latino Catholics because of his fierce opposition to a popular movement in Latin America, scholars say.
February 15th, 2013
11:13 AM ET

The pope's mixed legacy with Latino Catholics

By John Blake, CNN

They are the largest group in the Roman Catholic Church, and the next pope might even come from their midst. Yet few have heard how Latino Catholics regard the legacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

For many Latino Catholics, Benedict’s legacy is mixed. They will forever tie him to his fierce opposition to liberation theology, a controversial movement that sought to improve the impoverished lives of Latinos living under oppressive governments.

Benedict, who resigned Monday citing his advancing age, was one of the church’s most visible opponents of liberation theology, a movement that began in Latin America in the 1960s. It mingled Marxist critiques of poverty with an insistence that the church display a “preferential option” for the poor.

Benedict’s view created more distance between priests and the poor people they served, says Jennifer Hughes, a Catholic Church scholar at the University of California, Riverside.

"In Latin America, both as Cardinal Ratzinger and as the pope, Benedict devoted himself to the systematic dismantling of the infrastructure of liberation theology," Hughes says. "During this process, many priests and bishops withdrew from their ministry in the poorest communities.”

Benedict’s opposition to liberation theology was ironic because he shared many of its concerns, others say. He was critical of capitalism and thought that Christian leaders should be concerned with the economic and political liberation of their followers.

Pope Benedict addresses priests of Rome

Benedict spoke out against unrestrained capitalism, income inequality and global warming. As recently as December, he said in a speech that Christians should work for a more “equitable sharing of the Earth’s resources.”

“Benedict was a vociferous advocate for the poor and strongly opposed income inequality,” says James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life."  “On that mark, he was as progressive as they come.”

Yet Benedict was suspicious of liberation theologians because some aligned themselves with political movements that sought to overthrow repressive governments in Latin America, other historians say.

The prospect of the church aligning itself with political movements alarmed Benedict because of his own upbringing, says Ramon Luzarraga, a religion professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio.  He saw such an alliance between church and state destroy his native Germany. Catholic and Protestant leaders help put Hitler in power, Luzarraga says.

“Liberation theologians are comfortable working with government and political parties on the left while Benedict is more comfortable remaining neutral,” Luzarraga says.

Benedict’s impact on Latin America is important because the region will shape much of the church’s future. Latino Catholics are the largest group in the Catholic Church. Latin America's Catholics make up 39% of the world’s Catholic population, according to the Pew Research Center.

Video: Pope's resignation is noble, historian says

Latin America is also home to the two most populous Catholic countries: Brazil and Mexico (the U.S. has the fourth-largest Catholic population), the Pew Center found.

Even without Benedict’s opposition to liberation theology, more Latino Catholics are drifting away from the Vatican, another scholar says.

Under Pope Benedict, a growing number of Latino Catholics were no longer regarding the Vatican’s teaching as an important element in their faith, says Michele Dillon, a sociology professor at the University of New Hampshire.

Latino Catholics traditionally believe the church should give more emphasis to social justice rather than issues such as abortion and contraception, Dillon says. A majority of Latino Catholics favor same-sex marriage and women’s ordination, she says.

“As Hispanic Catholics in the U.S achieve upward mobility, they may become a little more conservative on social justice and concern for the poor,” Dillon says, “but currently many of the issues that are especially important to Catholics in Latin America are also very important to Hispanic Catholics in the U.S.”

At the same time, Latino Catholics are also drifting away from liberation theology, says Carl Raschke, a religion professor at the University of Denver.

The theology is now perceived more as a Western intellectual movement that does not understand the revival of spirituality among indigenous people in Latin America, Raschke says.

“Liberation theology is for the most part out of favor in Latin America because it has been largely deemed by indigenous people as increasingly irrelevant,” Raschke says.

Pentecostal-flavored religion, not liberation theology, is now sweeping Latin America, says Daniel Ramirez, a religion professor at the University of Michigan.

“Although they [liberation theologians] talked about the option for the poor, the poor ultimately opted for Pentecostalism,” Ramirez says.

The Vatican can bridge some of the distance with Latino Catholics with one dramatic action, some scholars say.

If the next pope is Latino, the impact will be epic, says Luzarraga.

“It would be the same effect as [Pope] John Paul II had on Polish people,” Luzarraga says. “”It would be an announcement to the world that Latino Catholics have finally come into their own.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Mass • Pope • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope John Paul II • Same-sex marriage • South America • Vatican

soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

    Gravity is not up for debate ! ............E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas..........that do not lie or sin !!!..........

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

    May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418104324.htm

    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

    Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

    Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

    Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

    Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423134037.htm

    Ca-nabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) – National Cancer Insti-tute

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/.../page4

    Mar 21, 2013 – [1,2] These plant-derived compounds may be referred to as phytocannabinoids. ... have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. ... In lung cancer cell lines, CBD upregulated ICAM-1, leading to ...

    Good stuff !

    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
    Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/28/pope-praises-science-but-insists-god-created-world/

    Science

    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

    The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/07/the-jesus-debate-man-vs-myth/comment-page-137/#comment-2281915

    Make sure to read comments

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

    Breaking News

    NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

    NASA: Mars could have supported life

    Star Dust we are

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdU_px9ApE&w=640&h=390]

    Holy Hallucinations 35

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XTCRdC8Dlo&w=640&h=390]

    The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

    Human Evolution

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2cHumanevo.shtml

    BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUliLKSJ4bQ&w=640&h=390]

    BACKFILL on E =mc2.....

    Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

    By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

    Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/category/culture-science/

    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420 from CheechAndChong

    All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................

    The fact...............the earth is to old ...........time to EVOLVE !.

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

    Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

    http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

    Education works for children

    Earth From Space

    Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth. Aired February 13, 2013 on PBS

    Program Description

    "Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/space/earth-from-space.html

    February 16, 2013 at 7:18 am | Report abuse |

    Peace

    May 5, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  2. insanity workout

    http://columbusbbw.com/activity/p/1713993/ [url=http://isanityworkout.webs.com]insanity workout[/url]

    April 10, 2013 at 12:21 am |
  3. Armando

    The Holy Father will be remembered for his enduring commitment to the
    compatibility and complementarity of faith and reason as we make our way
    through life, blessed with both the gift of our intellect and a
    capability to hear also the revelation of God.

    Thank you Pope Benedict for your guidance, for your leadership, for your pastoral love.

    February 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  4. pinky

    I HATE DE WORD LATINO
    HIS ADVISORS SHOULD KNOW THAT IT IS NOT COUNTRY, AND A VERY DERROGATORY WORD.
    IT SHOULD SAY LATIN AMERICANS, WHICH IS A TOTAL DIFFERENT STORY.

    February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • colazo1948

      I don't know why you hate the word: LATINOS that is the correct term 'cause we come from LATINO AMERICA, the word you should hate ( as I do ) is : HISPANIC (which is a generic term that the white man labeled us with).
      Please bear with me in the following:
      Africans come from Africa.
      Europeans come from Europe.
      Asians come from Asia.
      Australians come from Australia.
      so where do Hispanics come from.? ..uh... Hispania? ... what and where is that Country or Continent ?
      Where are you from or what is your ancestry Pinky ?

      March 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Virgilio

      I thought LATINO was derived from the Greek ΗηΔδεκ, which (I am told) translates to "potbellied man with impressive mustache"

      March 13, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
  5. Atheism is healthy for everyone -pets too!

    Prayer is just a time-sucker-upper.

    February 21, 2013 at 8:42 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 21, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • snopes says

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" is unfounded.
      "Prayer changes things" is unfounded.

      February 21, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!`

      February 21, 2013 at 8:37 am |
  7. Theo

    I wonder what the pope is imagining that candle is

    February 20, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  8. Ummmmm

    "Unbelievers may consider it spam but to the believers in the true Christ it means 'salvation'."

    No, idiot it's spam because you are including your website.

    February 19, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 19, 2013 at 6:53 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~

      February 19, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Theo

      Man i havent been on cnn in months and your still posting the same thing ?

      some crazy people on cnn real crazy

      February 20, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
  10. Science

    Intelligent Design On Trial NOVA

    Thank you to the National Centre For Science Education (NCSE) for providing this information.

    Please Subscribe To The NCSE Youtube Channel!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hTZ5AYzs8o&w=640&h=390]

    Peace

    February 19, 2013 at 5:29 am |
1 2 3 4 5
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.