Pan-Amazon Synod Will Address a Region That Is No Longer Catholic
Most Rev. José Luis Azcona, Bishop Emeritus of the Marajó Prelature in the Amazon area of Belém do Pará, Brazil, has sounded the alarm: “The Amazon, at least the Brazilian part of it, is no longer Catholic” because it has “a Pentecostal majority” that in some regions “reaches 80%.”
The reason? Under the pretext of “intercultural dialogue,” Catholic missionaries no longer evangelize or baptize. However, evangelicals do evangelize and work very hard indeed. While Catholic missionaries talk to Indians about “deforestation,” “climate change,” and “integral ecology,” Protestant pastors visit their communities with Bible in hand.
The Instrumentum laboris for the coming synodal assembly theologically justifies this “preferential option” for Mother Earth. They claim the Amazon region is an epiphanic place that manifests the divine.
By emphasizing this option, the synod’s promoters will be repeating the same pastoral mistake that led to the flight of millions of Catholic faithful to the evangelical religion.
When I first visited Brazil, the country’s population was 88.2 million, of whom 92% were Catholic and 5.2% evangelical (1970 census). In 2018, the population more than doubled to 208 million, but the proportion of Catholics dropped to 64.6% as evangelicals rose to 22.2% (figures are worse as the latest available data is from the 2010 census).