Florida Brazil

Brazil Religion Roman Catholicism

 
Search for tickets to Brazil
Brazil Resource Center

 

Brazil Religion Roman Catholicism



Roman Catholicism

Brazil's strong Roman Catholic heritage can be traced to the Iberian missionary zeal, with the fifteenth-century goal of spreading Christianity to the infidels. In the New World, these included both Amerindians and African slaves. In addition to conversion, there were also strong efforts to enforce compliance with Roman Catholicism, including the Inquisition, which was not established formally in Brazil but nonetheless functioned widely in the colonies. In the late nineteenth century, the original Roman Catholic populace of Iberian origin was reinforced by a large number of Italian Catholics who immigrated to Brazil, as well as some Polish and German Catholic immigrants.

According to all the constitutions of the republican period, there is no state or official religion. In practice, however, separation of church and state is weak. Government officials generally avoid taking action that may offend the church.

Brazil is said to be the largest Roman Catholic country in the world. In 1996 about 76 percent of the population, or about 122 million people, declared Roman Catholicism as their religion, as compared with 89 percent in 1980. The decline may have resulted from a combination of a real loss of influence and a tendency to be more objective in answering census questions about religion.

As in most dominant religions, there is some distance between nominal and practicing Catholics. Brazilians usually are baptized and married in the Roman Catholic Church. However, according to the CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops), only 20 percent of nominal Catholics attend Mass and participate in church activities, but the figure may be as low as 10 percent. Women attend Mass more often than men, and the elderly are more active in church than the young. In the 1990s, charismatic forms of Catholicism used unconventional approaches, along the line of those used by Pentecostal Protestant groups, to attempt revitalization and increase active participation.

Popular or traditional forms of Catholicism are widespread in the interior of the country. Many Brazilians pray to figures such as Padre Cícero (a revered priest who lived in Ceará from 1844 to 1934), make pilgrimages to the site of the appearance of Brazil's patron saint, our Lady of the Appearance (Nossa Senhora Aparecida), and participate in traditional popular rites and festivities, such as the Círio in Belém and the Festa do Divino in central Brazil. Some use expressions of religious origin, such as asking for a blessing on meeting someone older or responding "God willing" (Se Deusquiser ) when someone says "See you tomorrow."

During the 1970s, the progressive wing of the church made an "option for the poor." They were influenced by the doctrine of liberation theology (see Glossary), in which Brazilian theologians such as Leonardo Boff played a leading role, and followed the decision of the Latin American Bishops' Conference in Medellín, Colombia, in 1968. The church organized Ecclesiastical Base Communities (Comunidades Eclesiais de Base--CEBs; see Glossary) throughout the country to work for social and political causes at the local level. During the military regime, the progressive clergy managed to make the church practically the only legitimate focus of resistance and defense of human rights. In the early 1990s, conservative forces, supported by Pope John Paul II, gained power in the church.

Other Religions

Syncretism, the combination of different forms of belief or practice, has been widespread in Brazil, where Roman Catholicism has blended with numerous Afro-Brazilian cults. Syncretism occurred partly because of religious persecution and partly because of the compatibility of the different belief systems. The most well-known and socially acceptable combinations are called umbanda or candomblé . At one extreme, umbanda blends in with Kardecian spiritualism (see Glossary). At the other extreme, there is a kind of black magic called macumba , which can be used for either good or evil purposes. Its practitioners leave offerings of chicken, rum (cachaça ), flowers, and candles at crossroads, beaches, and other public places. Kardecian spiritists, as well as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Buddhists, together account for about 3 to 5 percent of the population, while those declaring that they have no religion total 15 percent.

In recent decades, Protestantism has grown rapidly. The proportion of the population considered evangelical grew from 3.7 percent in 1960 to 6.6 percent in 1980. The 1991 census showed a proportion of 19.2 percent, or 28.2 million followers. Nearly half of Brazil's evangelicals, or 13 million, belong to the Assembly of God. This and other evangelical or Pentecostal varieties of Protestantism--Christian Congregation, Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, Quadrangular Evangelicals, Brazil for Christ, and God and Love--emphasize brotherhood and religious ceremonies that actively engage participants in song and chants. The groups that have grown the most are fundamentalists with strict standards of personal behavior regarding dress, drinking, smoking, and gambling. They have special appeal among recent migrants to urban areas or to the frontier, who have had to adapt to new and difficult circumstances. In contrast to the formality and central control of the Roman Catholic Church, the fundamentalist Protestant groups grow rapidly and split and multiply frequently.

Data as of April 1997





 



 


About Brazil
Table A. Selected Acronyms and Abbreviations
Table B. Chronology of Important Events
Geography
Society
Economy
Transportation and Communications
Government and Politics
National Security


Historical Setting

The Society and Its Environment

The Physical Setting
- Size and Location
- Geology, Geomorphology, and Drainage

- Soils and Vegetation
- Climate
- Geographic Regions

North / Northeast
South / Southeast
Center-West

- The Environment
Population
- Population Size and Distribution
- Mortality / Fertility
- Migration and Urbanization
Social Structure
Social Classes
- Gender
- Youth / Elderly
- Race and Ethnicity
- Amerindians
- Rural Groups
Cultural Unity and Diversity
- The Brazilian Way
- Language
- Mass Communications
- Family and Kinship
Religion
- Roman Catholicism
- Other Religions

Health Status and Health Care
- Indicators of Health
- Infectious and Chronic Diseases
- Nutrition and Diet
- The Health Care System
- Health Professionals and Resources
Public Health and Welfare
- Social Security

- Sanitation and Public Utilities
- Housing
Education
- Literacy
- Primary and Secondary Schools
- Colleges and Universities
- Principal Research Libraries
Social Conflict and Participation
- Conflict and Nonviolence
- Growth of Social and Environmental Movements
- Inclusion and Exclusion

The Economy

Government and Politics

National Security

Science and Technology

Brazil Travel and Tourism
-
Belo Horizonte
- Fernando de Noronha
- Foz do Iguaçu
- Porto Alegre
- Rio de Janeiro
- Salvador Bahia
- São Paulo

Brazil General Information Center

Bahia Resort Hotels
Brazilian Consulate
Brazilian Currency
Capoeira
Carnival of Brazil
Dictionary -Transltation
Flights to Brazil
Information About Brazil
Map of Brazil
Travel to Brazil
Visa to Brazil


 


Clique para Português

Accountant Florida
Airlines
Auto Sales
Beauty Salons
Brazilian Products
Brazilian Stores
Churches
Construction
Dentists Florida
Doctors
Driving Schools Florida
Hotels Florida
Import / Export
Insurance
Jobs
Lawyers Florida
Mechanics
Money Transfers
Moving Company in Florida
Newspapers
Other
Parties / Events
Real Estate Florida
Rental Car Company
Restaurants
Satellite Dishes
Schools Florida
Translation Companies
Travel Agencies
Veterinarians
Workout


Click Here to list your company.

 


Privacy Policy
- Terms of Service - Site Map - Florida Guide

Copyright © 2003 by Florida Brasil.com
All rights reserved