roman catholic

Folk Religions Thrive with Women's Spirit

Tammy Bloome. Photo via Dede Smith / RNS

Tammy Bloome. Photo via Dede Smith / RNS

Unlike Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, historically all led by men, or the philosophies of the East such as Buddhism where male scholars and monks dominate, folk religions — close to village or tribe or ancestry — are often practiced and led by women.

Santa Muerte expert Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of a book on the Mexican folk religion, Devoted to Death, calls it “the fastest-growing New Religious Movement in the Americas,” with more than 10 million followers.

Muslim Kosovars Rediscover Their Long-Forgotten Roman Catholic Roots

Photo via Valerie Plesch / RNS

Catholics attend Christmas Eve Mass at Mother Teresa Cathedral in Pristina, Kosovo. Photo via Valerie Plesch / RNS

Under the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Kosovo from the early 15th century until 1912, most Albanian Kosovars converted to Islam.

But today, Jakaj and others are on a mission that they say reflects a renaissance of Catholicism in the country. Muslim Kosovars are supporting the effort, too, even though most of Brod is now Muslim.

“This is our history of our nation,” said Ademi, whose forefathers were Catholic.

“These are our first steps toward reclaiming our cultural heritage.”

The ‘Pope Francis Effect?' Some Early Data Suggest It Could Be Real

Photo via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead the general audience in St. Peter’s Square. Photo via REUTERS / Max Rossi / RNS

Pope Francis appears more popular than ever among American Catholics, and he hasn’t even visited the U.S. yet, a trip that is planned for September and could well boost his visibility — and appeal — even further.

But will Francis find American Catholics filling the pews? Or just loving the pope from afar? That’s one of the big — and so far unanswered — questions about his remarkable papacy.

Now, one researcher may have found some signs, albeit tentative, of an incipient “Francis effect.”

Mark Gray of Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate crunched the Catholic numbers from the 2014 General Social Survey, the go-to resource for sociologists. The GSS began in 1972 and is conducted every two years using face-to-face interviews with a national random sample of adults.

Gray noted that when asked to characterize the strength of their religious affiliation, 34 percent of Catholics said it was “strong,” up from 27 percent in 2012, the year before Francis was elected.

That 7-point rise was a “significant bounce,” Gray said.

Catholic Church Losing Ground in Latin America

Pope Francis in his popemobile in Brazil for the re-enactment of the Way of the Cross. Photo via Robson Coehlo/RNS

In just one generation, Latin America has seen the number of people who identify themselves as Catholic plummet, with more people becoming Protestant or dropping religion altogether, a new report shows.

The shift is dramatic for a region that has long been a bastion of Catholicism. With more than 425 million Catholics, Latin America accounts for nearly 40 percent of the global Catholic population. Through the 1960s, at least 90 percent of Latin Americans were Catholic, and 84 percent of people surveyed recently by the Pew Research Center said they were raised Catholic.

But the report released Nov. 13 found that only 69 percent of Latin Americans still consider themselves Catholic, with more people switching to more conservative Protestant churches (19 percent) or describing themselves as agnostic or religiously unaffiliated (8 percent).

Even last year’s election of an Argentine as pope to head the Catholic Church has led to conflicting feelings in Latin America.

“While it is too soon to know whether (Pope) Francis can stop or reverse the church’s losses in the region, the new survey finds that people who are currently Catholic overwhelmingly view Francis favorably and consider his papacy a major change for the church,” the report said. “But former Catholics are more skeptical about Pope Francis. Only in Argentina and Uruguay do majorities of ex-Catholics express a favorable view of the pope.”

Water Is Not A 'Privilege,' Says Catholic Bishop

Photo credit: SouthWorld/Comboni Missionaries

Is access to clean water for public use a human right? According to Luis Infanti, the Roman Catholic bishop of Aysen in Chile, the answer is yes. This week marks the opening of Chile’s “First Cabildo for Water,” a meeting organized by the Coalition for the Defense of Water and Life, comprising civil society and religious groups.

People from all over Chile are attending and bringing water samples taken from lakes, streams, and rivers in their communities to be blessed by Bishop Infanti. “Water has often been captured, kidnapped and commodified,” said Infanti, according to Agenzia Fides, “but we know that it must give life and reach all our brothers and sisters, flow in abundance and not be anyone’s privilege.”

In Scotland, Nonreligious Surpass the Church of Scotland

Flag of Scotland, painted on barcode surface. Via Shutterstock, by Micha Klootwijk

For the first time on record, the number of Scots with no religion outstrips those who belong to the Church of Scotland.

Figures from the 2011 census released Monday show that 37 percent of Scottish people regard themselves as nonreligious, while 32 percent said they identified with the Church of Scotland, known as the Kirk. Some 16 percent said they were Roman Catholic.

Excommunicated Bishop Still Sees Himself as Roman Catholic

Excommunicated Zambian Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, who advocates for married priests within the Roman Catholic Church, said he has not split from Rome though many of the priests he ordained no longer see themselves as part of the church.

“We are not a breakaway church,” said Milingo, who married Maria Sung, a Korean acupunturist, in 2001. “Within the Catholic Church married priests existed for a thousand years.”

Gay Catholic Delivers 18,000 Signatures to Bishop Asking to be Reinstated

Nicholas Coppola delivers 18,603 signatures, asking to be active in his Roman Catholic parish. Photo courtesy RNS/GLAAD.

A gay man ousted from posts at his Long Island parish after a critic complained that he had married his partner delivered a petition with more than 18,000 signatures on Thursday to Bishop William Murphy, asking to be reinstated.

 

“Bishop Murphy, please let Nicholas Coppola resume volunteering at his parish – and make it clear that faithful gay and lesbian Catholics are welcome to participate fully in parish life in your diocese,” reads the petition. Murphy is longtime head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre.

According to gay activist network GLAAD, which has been assisting Coppola, a security guard at the diocese agreed to deliver the petition but said that neither Murphy nor diocesan officials would meet with Coppola and representatives of the activist groups who accompanied him.

Incoming San Francisco Archbishop Arrested for DUI, Apologizes

Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., a leading conservative in the Catholic hierarchy who is set to become the next archbishop of San Francisco, was arrested over the weekend for drunken driving and has apologized “for the disgrace I have brought upon the Church and myself.”

Catholic experts said the arrest was not likely to derail Cordileone’s installation, set for Oct. 4, given that it appeared to be an isolated incident and he apologized so quickly and publicly.

Cordileone, 56, was taken into custody Saturday at 12:26 a.m. after San Diego police stopped his vehicle at a DUI checkpoint near the San Diego State University campus. A native of San Diego, he was booked into the county jail on a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence and was released later Saturday after posting $2,500 bail.

In a statement on Monday, Cordileone explained that he was having dinner at the home of some friends, along with his 88-year-old mother, who lives near the university. He was driving his mother home after midnight when he was topped by police “and was found to be over the California legal blood alcohol level.”

Catholic Bishop: Unions and Government Will Sign Agreement After 44 Killed in Mine Violence

Bishop Kevin Dowling, the Catholic bishop of Rustenburg, South Africa, is co-president with Marie Dennis of Pax Christi International, representing the global Catholic peace movement. The massacre by South African police of 44 striking miners at British-owned Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana is in Bishop Dowling's diocese. He is an active leader in the Catholic nonviolence movement.

Agenzia Fides reports from Johannesburg:

"Maybe tomorrow, August 29th, there will be the signing of an agreement between the unions and the managers of the platinum mine in Marikana (North West Province, in South Africa). This was reported to Fides Agency by His Exc. Mgr. Kevin Dowling, Bishop of Rustenburg.

"We hope the efforts of the government to sign a reconciliation agreement tomorrow among four trade union organizations and the management of the mine is successful," said Mgr. Dowling.

"Negotiations are still in progress and relate in particular to an increase in wages. Tension is still very high and workers who want to return to work are blocked with threats by strikers," said the Bishop, who is participating in efforts to negotiate with the other Christian leaders who are part of the South African Council of Churches.

On August 16, a union protest in the Marikana mine degenerated into violence: the police shot and killed 34 miners. In the fighting a total of 44 people died. In a statement sent to Fides Agency the Southern African Catholic Bishops'Conference (SACBC) called for a thorough investigation into the massacre and condemned the violence.

Read the rest here.

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