Skip to comments.Why hasn't Catholicism had a more positive effect?
Posted on 04/01/2007 12:47:35 PM PDT by siunevada
If any corner of the globe should bear the imprint of Catholic values, it's Latin America. Catholicism has enjoyed a spiritual monopoly in the region for more than 500 years, and today almost half the 1.1 billion Catholics alive are Latin Americans. Moreover, Latin Americans take religion seriously; surveys show that belief in God, spirits and demons, the afterlife, and final judgment is near-universal.
The sobering reality, however, is that these facts could actually support an "emperor has no clothes" accusation against the church. Latin America has been Catholic for five centuries, yet too often its societies are corrupt, violent, and underdeveloped. If Catholicism has had half a millennium to shape culture and this is the best it can do, one might be tempted to ask, is it really something to celebrate? Mounting defections to Pentecostalism only deepen such ambivalence.
After my recent jaunt in Honduras, I understand the question.
In this tiny country of seven million, violence is so endemic that even the guards at the Pizza Hut across the street from our hotel carried automatic weapons. According to the World Health Organization, Honduras has a murder rate five times the global average, largely due to the maras, or drug-related gangs. One sign of the times: Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa loaned us his driver and vehicle for some of my appointments, which meant that we moved with a military escort because of death threats against the cardinal, an outspoken opponent of the drug trade. (I confess that I sometimes wondered if we might actually be safer in a cab.)
Most of the estimated 30,000 young Hondurans who belong to these gangs, it's worth recalling, were baptized as Catholics and raised in Catholic families.
Corruption is also ubiquitous. To take one example, electrical blackouts are chronic because the state-run electric company is perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy. In a classic vicious circle, revenue shortfalls due to corruption have produced a staggering national "electricity tax" of 49 percent, prompting people to refuse to pay their bills, making breakdowns even more routine. Once again, the officials responsible for this mess are overwhelmingly Catholic.
In light of such realities, I repeatedly put the question to my hosts: Why haven't five centuries of Catholicism left a more impressive social fingerprint?
To my surprise, the response I anticipated -- that despite the best efforts of the church, Latin America is hostage to meddling from the United States, as well as neo-liberal economic systems -- wasn't at the top of the list.
To be sure, Hondurans understand the role that American interests, both political and commercial, have played in destabilizing their country. Honduras is the original "banana republic," where U.S-based fruit companies long wielded more power than the government. In the early 20th century, U.S. Marines landed in Honduras no less than four times to protect the banana trade.
More recently, the United States played a huge role in Honduras during the 1980s, when the country formed a critical corridor between the Contra revolt against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and El Salvador's efforts to put down the Marxist FMLN. John Negroponte, today deputy secretary of state, cut his teeth as ambassador to Honduras, where critics say he turned a blind eye to human rights violations by the military, especially the infamous Battalion 316, thought to be responsible for thousands of "disappearances."
Post-Communist economic globalization has hardly been an unmixed blessing either. While CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement) is generating new wealth for Honduran elites, 80 percent of the country lives in poverty. Rodriguez believes that export economies won't work here, given that his country's principal products -- bananas, minerals and vegetable oil -- have been devastated by a collapse in international prices. Today, Rodriguez says, his country's real exports are "illegal immigrants and drugs."
Despite all this, most Hondurans seem determined not to blame outside forces for their struggles.
Fr. Ricardo Flores, pastor of San Jose Obrero parish in Tegucigalpa, told me that in his view, globalized economic systems and American policy "are not the big problems we face," and don't explain why Honduras is in crisis. He said the real issues are corruption, a lack of social solidarity, and inadequate investment in education -- all of which, he said, are basically home-grown.
Thus the original question: Why hasn't Catholicism had a more positive effect?
The most frequent explanation I heard boils down to this: For most of the 500 years since the arrival of Columbus, Catholicism in Latin America often has been skin-deep. People were baptized into the faith, married and buried in it, but for a variety of reasons there was precious little else.
To be sure, the church exercises considerable political clout. But that influence, many observers say, often masks a superficial Catholicism at the grass-roots.
At first blush, the claim that five centuries haven't afforded enough time for real evangelization might seem a terrible indictment. Honduran Catholics told me that, given its scarce resources, the church never stood a chance. Moreover, they say, baptismal counts notwithstanding, the region has never been ideologically homogenous.
For example, some Hondurans assert that during the Cold War, the dominant ideology was not Catholicism, but Marxism, which had a much greater impact in shaping the attitudes of political and social elites. That's the view at the new Catholic University of Honduras, founded in 1993 and named "Our Lady Queen of Peace" in honor of the reputed apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
During my visit, rector Elio David Alvarenga Amador and members of his staff explained that the university was founded by lay Catholics who taught at the secular national university, and who were frustrated with what they saw as Marxist indoctrination, especially in education and the social sciences.
Vice-rector Virgilio Madrid Solís, who keeps an image of St. Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei, on his desk, though he's not a member, minces no words in describing the new university's mission: "To change Honduras."
Erika Flores de Boquín, another vice-rector, unpacked the point. She told the story of a recent engineering graduate who went to work for the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, where he was asked to sign what Flores described as a falsified environmental impact study, presumably skewed by corruption. The engineer lost his job, but he made a stand for principle.
"Little by little, such acts will transform this country," Flores de Boquín said. "The church is starting this work only now."
Hondurans also point to a severe priest shortage as limiting the extent to which Catholicism took hold. With just over 400 priests, the ratio of priests to people in Honduras today is 1 to 13,000.
"At the time of independence from Spain, most of the Catholic clergy were expelled," Rodriguez said. "We had one bishop and 15 priests for the entire country."
That shortage left vast sections of the population with no regular access to the sacraments, and no meaningful catechesis. The few clergy on hand, mostly foreign missionaries, did their best, but dreams of Honduran Catholicism shaping culture in the sense that one associates with Poland under Communism, local Catholics say, was never in the cards.
Ruminating on these explanations, I'm reminded of the famous quip from G.K. Chesterton: The problem is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting, but rather that it's been found difficult and never tried. Repeatedly, that's the story I was told by Hondurans. The problem is not that Catholicism has failed, but that authentic Catholicism has never been tried.
That view would appear to have been more or less endorsed by CELAM, the Conference of Bishops of Latin American and the Caribbean. In the lineamenta for their upcoming Fifth General Conference in Brazil, the bishops flagged inadequate religious formation, a mix of Catholicism and indigenous religious practices, and a lack of coherence with Catholic beliefs among the faithful, as central challenges.
Rodriguez, the first cardinal in Honduran history, emphatically believes that deep evangelization is a work still to be done, and thinks the church in Latin America is now developing the muscle to pull it off.
In that light, it will be especially interesting to watch the upcoming CELAM conference in early May in Brazil. Benedict XVI will be in attendance, and one imagines he too will be looking to see if Rodriguez's brother bishops share his confidence -- and, more importantly, what ideas they have to make it a reality.
Poverty, the bad example of some Catholics, bad initial Catechesis that allowed the old beliefs to be assimilated into Catholicism, and the bad example of Liberation Theologians.
Communism is the anti-Catholicism.
Since Captain Obvious is not available today, I will try to answer this rhetorical question.
Catholicism today works by example, not by coercion or intimidation.
Murder, intimidation and coercion are the most effective tools today to achieve any sort of effect, positive or otherwise. It is the worldwide standard tool.
That was when we dropped the personal ethics component of Catholicism and decided that all moral problems were the result of not enough social workers and not enough government handouts.
When Italy had been Catholic for about 500 years, it was overrun by barbarians and sank into the dark ages.
Maybe the question should be: How much worse would the countries be if they weren't Catholic?
Maybe you should re-check your history :)
ClaireSolt is a retired historian. Check the profile page if you want to see for yourself.
Actually, one of the differences between Catholicism and other religions in the New World is that the Church catechized and baptized the indigenous peoples, and then Spaniards married them. The English did not; furthermore, there weren't a lot of them indigenous peoples in the US, compared to the number of tribal peoples in Latin America, so the Indian population would probably never have had the weight that it did in Latin American.
The result was that the Church had to deal with a large number of very primitive indigenous populations throughout Latin America. This meant not only merely preaching the Gospel, but in many ways adapting these people to the modern cultures that had grown up around them.
I think, had the changes of the '60s and '70s not occurred, we'd be seeing a very different Latin America. For one thing, prior to VatII, the urban wealthy were being brought by movements like Opus Dei and others to realize their social responsibility to educate and aid - but once the Communists got in, that was one of the first groups they attacked. And they have continued to do so since then. I always think of the poor woman who was buried alive by Communist guerrillas in the early 2000's (I don't reacll the date)- she was from a wealthy family but had spent most of her time starting schools for poor, mostly Indian children, etc. And the "revolutionaries" couldn't stand that. The influence of Marxism, probably by way of Mexico or as a hangover from the "revolutionary" movements of the 1920s, revived once the Church weakened after Vatican II, and the Catholic Church and good Catholics were one of its prime targets.
Europe after the fall of Rome was essentially in the same condition. Rome was gone and the barbarian peoples (many of whom, btw, were not orthodox Catholics, but Arians) were way more numerous than the cultivated remainder from Rome. In Western Europe, there was an enormous amount of Catholic intellectual activity in Spain, particularly Sevilla, but that all stopped dead with the Muslim invasions.
As for personal piety, Latin Americans used to be very good at it, if a lot more dramatic than most North Americans like. It wasn't easy, and they weren't educated people who had a lot of resources. But once Vatican II killed personal piety, killed things like the necessity for Confession, the need to baptize your children, the importance of marrying in the Church, etc., the smoking wick was quenched. Being a well instructed Catholic doesn't necessarily mean you will be living a good life - but it does mean you'll always know you're doing wrong, and therefore you know that you should repent and get your life straightened up. Some people did, some people didn't; but everybody knew the message.
That was all swept away with the "social gospel" promulgated after Vatican II. Suddenly the poor were no longer moral beings with individual responsibilities before the Lord, but simply "the poor," a project for social workers and "revolutionaries." And now we're seeing the result of that.
Satan had a stranglehold on the place before 1492!
The Church put an end to the human sacrifice and cannibalism being practiced by the natives.
Our Lady at Guadalupe blessed the people by her presence there crushing the serpent!
All very very positive!
VIVA CRISTO REY!
Then I must have learned a very wrong version of history. Mine says less than 100 years between Constantine legalizing Christianity in 315 and the sacking of Rome in 409. Maybe ClaireSolt can teach me the correct version.
I will tell you why: because Catholicism (not Catholics) doesn't really believe in private property. Their Canon law recognizes it, but that is not put into practice.
Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic Ping List:
Please ping me to all note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.
I have noticed that very frequently, even well into the early 20th century, the usual signatures of brides, grooms, parents, godparents, etc. are missing from the parish registers. The priest typically wrote down the names of those in attendance, but noted that they were unable to sign their own names. I found it shocking to see the amount of illiteracy that was typical in French Canadian society. Contemporary records among my own English and New England ancestors show a far higher rate of literacy.
This seems to me to be a failure on the part of the Church. It had a major influence on every facet of Québecois culture and society, and it really should have done a better job of educating the peasants.
"Then I must have learned a very wrong version of history."
"Mine says less than 100 years between Constantine legalizing Christianity in 315 and the sacking of Rome in 409. Maybe ClaireSolt can teach me the correct version."
ClaireSolt compressed three things into one time: 1) "When Italy had been Catholic for about 500 years"...2) "it was overrun by barbarians"...3) "and sank into the dark ages."
I don't think ClaireSolt was shooting for exact years or tried to issue all the qualifiers that would otherwise be necessary. Don't forget that much of Italy was Catholic BEFORE Constantine legalized the faith; that the Visigoth sacking of Rome was NOT the same thing as barbarians overrunning Italy either; that the Dark Ages came well after the fall of Rome on August 24, 410 (not 409 as you mistakenly believe), or even the deposition of the last Roman emperor of the west in 476.
Some are never satisfied.
"This seems to me to be a failure on the part of the Church."
Sounds like more of a failure of the provincial government. The Church teaches people the faith. Literacy is not a requirement to be saved. The Church runs many schools, but cannot run them all.
One click on the source link will tell you just about all you need to know. NCR has been the yellow rag of leftist Catholics for years...No reason for them to suddenly get religion, now, is there?
Apparently illiteracy is actually INCREASINING in Quebec:
38 % of Quebec's adults were illiterate in 1994 (50% in 2003)
The reader is perhaps not familiar with the mind boggling rates of illiteracy in the main industrialised countries, supposedly the most socially advanced on the planet: 22% in the United Kingdom, 30% in France, to name just a few; and even here in the second most populous province of Canada, according to the OCDE 1994 figures, an almost incredible rate of 38% of the adult population (50% in 2003) was considered illiterate to various degrees, that is, 900 000 persons aged between 16 and 65 on a population of 7 millions, with a higher proportion in the layer aged between 16 and 25, which indicates that the problem is worsening.
This 1994 38% broke up into the following: 7 % were considered completely illiterate, since they were unable to read most written texts; 9 % could decode words, but were unable to understand the meaning of most sentences, while the remaining 22% could read only in a limited number of situations. Let us consider that all of these individuals have gone to school right up to high school level, since the Law makes it a mandatory requirement that our government provide schooling for all children up to the age of 16.
In 2003 (9 years later), a total rate of 50% of the same population aged 16 and more, was considered illeterate to various degrees, that is an increase of 12%, according to an International Inquiry on Literacy and Adult Competency (EIACA).
How could so many children (practically 5 out of 10) go through all of primary school, and be admitted in high school until they drop out, out of discouragement, without diploma, without their case being detected in time for them to be helped out by our educators, and first and foremost, without teaching methods being questioned?
In the 1950's, educational methods were such that even if parents did not get involved, primary school teachers succeeded in teaching most children who attended school to read to the level of autonomy, and this, by the end of the first year of primary school; which coincides, as explained in The Neurolinguistic Foundations of Intelligence, with the last year of childhood during which such learning remains relatively easy and the quality of which directly determines the ultimate comprehension ability that this individual will eventually reach.
But for reasons that have not been explained to parents, and even though the efficiency of this approach was well known at the time, and is still recognised world-wide by neuroscientists who are fully aware of the debilitating consequences of any delay in learning verbal abilities, educational methods have progressively drifted, particularly as the great Education Reform of the 1960's was carried out in the province of Quebec, towards a state that mandatorily required that parents provide an important level of support at home if their children were to completely master that skill, which is vital for their intellectual future.
Curiously, parents were never directly informed of this delegation of responsibility, or even that complete support was no more entirely provided at school starting in the late 1960's. From that point on in our history, only luck and chance availability of sufficiently educated parents who individually became aware of this situation has allowed their children to completely master reading skills by their 7th birthday.
To top that state of fact, which handicaps the children of so many educated parents unbeknownst to them, it must be realised that the group of 50% of illiterate adults (5 parents out of 10, mind you!) are functionally unable to provide such support to their kids, whence the vicious circle within which generation after generation of our children have been mired into for decades.
In this perspective, it is very hard to understand why the most recent Educational Reform (2001), still counts on a systematic implication of parents, and aims no higher than to have taught 500 words to children by the end of the second year of primary school, 1000 words by the end of the 4th year, and 1500 words by the end of the 6th grade, which is grossly insufficient for them to successfully deal with High School.
How then could we help these children of ill-informed or illiterate parents, children whose intellectual future seems irretrievably jeopardised by these minimalist objectives and unrealistic expectations that ill-informed or illiterate parents would take charge of a substantial complement of tutoring that can, in reality, only be given by qualified educators or sufficiently educated and aware parents; or that illiterate parents, generally poor for that very reason, could pay for special tutoring services outside of the public education system?
As far as children of ill-informed parents are concerned, there seems to be no other option than to consider a sustained information campaign to make them aware that their children will NOT learn to read properly if they do not themselves intervene to compensate for the obvious inadequacies of the current educational methods, and this, while their children are still young enough for proper tutoring to be totally effective.
But even if such a campaign proved totally successful, it wouldn't address the problem of the children of parents who, despite being sufficiently educated, are in no position to get personally involved, and, more often than not, do not even have the financial means to pay for special tutoring services, on account of the the relentless lifestyle imposed on them by consumer society and the family policies of our governments, which are particularly disheartening regarding single parent families.
For this latter category of children, as well as for the children of illiterate parents, final analysis leads to only one workable solution to this catastrophic social problem, which is that the public educational system takes charge once again of the full responsibility of bringing children to complete proficiency for reading and writing skills in pre-school and in the first year of primary school, which involves re-introducing methods as efficient as those that were so successful 50 years ago.
In reality, this tutoring could begin even in kindergarten or even at home, in an era when this practice is successfully spreading more and more in some European countries, for children as young as 3-4 years of age.
While the rate of High School dropping out decreased from 25% to 15% in Sweden and from 28% to 2% in Japan between 1982 and 1992 (Article in magazine L'Actualité of March 15 of 1992), it increased from 27,5% in 1986 to more than 50% in 1999 in Quebec according to the figure of the Quebec High Council for Education. At the college level (cegep) in the province of Quebec, 54% of boys and 39% of girls drop out without having obtained their diploma (DEC). Obviously, the authorities of these other countries have not lost sight of the importance of an appropriate level of mastery of reading and writing skills as an absolute pre-requisite to higher formal education of children.
As you read these lines, a minimum of 4 children out of 10 currently attending the first grade of our primary schools will not learn to read! Much worse, the 1999 report of the Conseil Supérieur de l'éducation [High Counsel of Education] reveals that if for girls the rate of dropping out of high school is in the vicinity of 33%, for boys, this proportion is now close to 70%, that is, almost 7 boys out of 10 !
As Livius says, the history of South America was that the Spanish conquerors intermarried with the Indians. And the Pope ordered all slaves to be freed. Contrary to the impression most Americans are given--that the Spanish were cruel, bloodthirsty murderers--they did NOT exterminate the Indians of South America, but settled among them and intermarried with them.
By contrast, most of the Indians living in North America were exterminated by the mostly British settlers, and there was relatively little intermarriage between the white settlers and the Indians. There are still living Indians, of course, and there were some intermarriages, but nothing like the scale that took place in South America. Many Indians still live separately (and by choice) on reservations.
Say what you like about the early civilizations in South America, the Indians who lived there were mostly cruel and barbaric. They took each other as slaves, and human sacrifice was widespread.
Compare South America with Africa, rather than with Europe or the U.S., and you get a fairer picture of what was accomplished by Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both continents have been ravaged by the virus of Communism, and both continents have histories of barbarism and slavery, but there's no question which continent is the more civilized and promising.
NCR is awful and part of the problem. John Allen, however, is a good reporter. But I notice he refrained from really drawing conclusions and went on to discuss the CELAM conference - which will be attended by BXVI. The latter is definitely NOT a follower of the "Spirit of Vatican II," so we shall see what happens.
For many centuries even in Europe, the only education children got was in parish schools, which were really little groups run by the parish priest. The school was generally only for boys, and only taught them the basics of reading, unless they were bright and showed some promise for the priesthood. Even then it depended upon a donor to pay their way to the seminary (which would have been the college of its day). Reading also was not that important to the peasants because there was little to read; newspapers were an urban thing and novels were certainly not something somebody who spent the day plowing with his ox-team was going to waste a candle on at night.
In the 19th century, even the former rudimentary educational system was disrupted, mostly by attacks on religious orders and clergy under "liberal" governments in places such as France and Spain, as well as regulations forbidding the clergy to teach. At that time, state schools didn't even exist, so this meant nobody at all was left to educate the peasants.
In the New World, I think a lot of individual clergy and certainly the teaching orders did what they could. But they were limited in resources and often in trouble in the mother country; this would have been true in France, where the Church of course had major problems in the late 18th-early 19th centuries after the French revolution.
In 1870, we had an order of French teaching nuns brought to St. Augustine Florida to run the first free school for black children here and an academy for young ladies. But that was fairly late, although even so, it was way ahead of the state schools.
A very intriguing title. Ping to read & respond(?) later.
Mormons have embarked on active, passionate evangalization in the Latin American countries in recent years.
Yes. Meanwhile, the Catholics, enamored of "Liberation Theology," were dreaming of FARC and Che Guevara and completely ignoring their people.
When Italy had been Catholic for about 500 years, it was overrun by barbarians and sank into the dark ages.
Maybe I'm just oversensitive. I grew up in the buckle of the Bible Belt and the prevailing version of history was that the Dark Ages (which really weren't so dark) were brought on by an evil Catholic plot. If you mentioned that the "Catholics" were the only Christians around at the time, they answered there were always Baptists from the very beginning, but they were "oppressed" by the evil "Catholics".
The liberal version: The Glory That Was Rome was dragged down into the Dark Ages by Christianity.
That is something I admire Mormons for. Their passion for evangelization and Mission work is something that Catholics should aspire too. Imagine if Catholics went on a 2-3 year mission after High School.
I understand what you're saying. That's why I posted as I did. I thought you were being unfairly treated so I threw in my two cents.
By the way, if you ever encounter the "there were always Baptists around" crowd again, I would recommend buying them copies of Dr. James McGoldrick's BAPTIST SUCCESSIONISM. He is a Protestant professor of history and absolutely destroys the "Trail of Blood" nonsense. There were NO Baptists until the 17th century. PERIOD. McGoldrick proves this (and he's a Protestant!).
How is it the Irish were able to become literate, then? V's wife.
I thought this was his conclusion, based on what he heard from the Hondurans themselves:
Repeatedly, that's the story I was told by Hondurans. The problem is not that Catholicism has failed, but that authentic Catholicism has never been tried.
I meant that he didn't assign blame...I, on the other hand, have got my pointer-finger at the ready.
Now I am very confused (blush). It seemed to me you thought I was treating ClaireSolt the retired historian unfairly. A mispost? I do appreciate anyone who takes up for someone unfairly treated, even if it is the opposite party! It shows a good heart.
When did you get your PhD at Catholic University in history???
The premise is wrong. Read Wood, How the Catholic Church built Western Civilzation.
It wasn't my premise, it appeared to be yours. That was the impression you gave. I don't need to read Wood again. I think I remember most of it, even if the "little grey cells" aren't what they once were. If there was a misunderstanding, can't we agree to be agreeble, not post insulting questions?
I don't think enough people understand how secularized much of Latin America has become. Speaking as someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in Panama, to say nothing of Costa Rica and Mexico, I can tell you that while certain sectors of the population are turning toward Pentecostalism, an even greater share, particularly in the cities, has turned away from religion en totem, not even bothering to baptise their children.
Funny... Any check I can find of the success of the Catholic Church in Latin America shows it to be rather minimal. The historic absence of any denomination hardly means that everyone is Catholic. I think we could all agree that a very strong measure of the Catholicity of any group is the number of priests. But historically, Latin America has been virtually devoid of priests. Instead, what has existed is a very small Catholic community ministering very inadequately to an enormous indigenous community under harsh suppression of anti-clerical regimes which were often funded by Anglosphere leaders who happened to be Protestant (i.e., Roosevelt, Eisenhower, etc.)
Only since John Paul II has a true evangelization of Latin America taken place.
The brutal repression of Catholicism in Latin America is best exemplified by Mexico, a Marxist-Troskyite regime older than the Soviet Union, wherein tens of thousands of Catholic priests and nuns were slaughtered.
>> Compare South America with Africa, rather than with Europe or the U.S., <<
That's a very interesting observation. I think the same is true with Hispanic immigrants in the US - some of them go off to the charismatics, but many of them just don't care. They think it's more modern and more "American" to be completely non-religious.
Of course, they are assisted in reaching this conclusion by foundation-supported social policy organizations such as Planned Parenthood. The latter group may have a specific objective (population control) but it approaches it indirectly, with a pitch to modernity, the idea of freeing oneself from the oppressive past (by which they mean religion and traditional morality), etc. They don't confront religion head-on, but in some ways, their direct, marginalizing approach is even more effective.
**Why hasn't Catholicism had a more positive effect?**
The fact is, Catholicism had had a tremendous effect on the world.
Consider the issues of:
And stories like
The Passion of the Christ.
Does anyone want me to go on?
Or can we all admit that it really is open season on Jesus and especially Catholicism???
The secularization of my family proceeded much slower because mass culture and affluence, which was in incubation since the late 19th century, but was cut off by the depression, only became a strong factor in the industrialized world in te 1950s. I has spread to the developing world more slowly, but is now there in spades. I've seen Indians living in one room homes in Chiapas with cell phones and satellite dishes.
Interestingly enough, this is a key factor behind the fact that the average birthrate per mother in Mexico has gone from six children in the early 1960s to about two today (and falling). The normal diversions of an urbanized society, along with easy access to birth control (it is easier to get condoms in your average mid sized Mexican city than it is in say, Louisville), mean that the RCC, and religion in general, has lost and will continue to lose influence in Mexican society, and that of any portion of the developing world that has a (relatively) open society.
Open season on Catholicism? I didn't get that at all from this article.
Allen has been in Honduras for about a month, this is just one of many articles he has written during his trip.
To me, this article just seems to be an observation on the old canard that Latin American cultures are deeply influenced by the Catholic faith of their populations. If that's true, why are these societies in such poor shape? The question was posed to the Hondurans he spoke to and they all had a similar answer, the Church has always been in a minority position to influence society.
There is often an assumption that the Church has a nearly absolute influence on society in various times and places. That assumption always ignores the much stronger influence, IMO, of forces other than the Church.
What a joke! Now asking for credentials is considered an insult in this topsy turvy world.
I agree with you here, "The result was that the Church had to deal with a large number of very primitive indigenous populations throughout Latin America." Europeans were always vastly outnumbered by indians in LA. More importantly, however, one must question whether failures are from religion or from the inability to develop healthy political and economids systems.
Obviously, if a child has a parent(s) who is educated and/or values education, that child has a built-in advantage. But, as you state, those who were in the position, as teacher, had the ability and the methods to teach children to read, along with the other basic subjects.
This success did not begin in the 1950s. I would take it back to at least the 1920s, and probably before that.
I've watched the "new" and "progressive" methods of teaching reading and math for a number of years, and asked myself what was wrong with the way we, of the earlier years, learned to read and do math.
Whatever works, that's what matters. I shouldn't be stuck in the past!