Christianity In Latin America

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The word Latino is one that has come to include a myriad of cultures. It is a common misconception that the word Latino encompasses any heritage or ethnicity not black, Asian, or white; this word, as it is understood and refuted today, consists of a mixture of these cultures: Spanish, Mexican, Italian, Native American, Puerto Rican, Dominican, among many others. A theologian might ask how these cultures’ theological views were/are shaped, but the answer is more complex than a single answer, it is surfaced when exploring and understanding history and how it influenced religiosity, not just for these cultures, but globally. The authors’ main focus is presented as more of a historical understanding and exploration of how Christianity changed…show more content…
From the moment Christopher Columbus set foot on the “New World” now known as the Americas, history was changed forever. As Spanish conquistadors rummaged through the lands in search of wealth, they observed many different cultures; the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas were just a few of the tribal communities that were overtaken in the name of Spain, through the name and benevolence of their Christian God. As in the case of the Aztecs, the Spaniards used the tactic of gaining control of the ruler in order to gain control of the people; the Spaniards were aided by disease, which ended up killing thousands of Indians and weakened thousands more. In the case of the Mayas, the Andean religious culture would not surrender easily to Christianity, which ultimately led to ugly and protracted eradication campaigns by the European church. The conquistadors “truly believed that they were serving God” when they sought to convert the indigenous populations of the Americas; these God-serving military men became exasperated and irate when these civilizations could not and would not perceive the superiority of Christianity, nor the need for salvation of their souls under this unfamiliar monotheistic religion devoid of their beliefs (38). This Christianity was preached to and imposed on a wide variety of indigenous peoples and their…show more content…
The laypeople began to further mold the “practice of Catholicism to meet their needs” which “laid the groundwork for the response of the Latin American church to the Second Vatican Council” or Vatican II (159). Societies became more secular while the institutional church began to struggle to have a place in society. Conformity once again was the method of the church maintaining presence in society; “militant Catholics sought to make their faith relevant within society by trying to conform societies to their religious beliefs” (182). Protestantisms’ arrival altered the face of Christianity in the Americas as it was brought by immigrants and missionaries; it made its first appearance in the sixteenth century but made its presence fully known in the twentieth century. Once independence was achieved, “newly formed governments began inviting immigrants to bring their skills and knowledge to Latin America…to come to their lands largely as a weapon against conservatives” as the marginalized populace began to gain a voice (183). In 1992, the end of the twentieth century and also the exact 500 year anniversary of the discovery of the western hemisphere, the Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano [CELAM], the Latin American Bishops’ Council, held a conference to reshape the presence of Christianity by
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