A new Pew survey found that Latin American Catholics are increasingly leaving the Catholic Church, either to join evangelical Protestant churches or are abandoning religion altogether. The survey participants cited a search for a personal connection with God as the biggest reason for their shift.
The wide-ranging survey, released on Thursday, reported that although 69 percent of adults across the region identify as Catholic, in almost every country surveyed there was a reported net loss of Catholics in terms of people raised Catholic and currently Catholic. Overall for Latin America as a whole, 84 percent of the population was raised Catholic, but only 69 percent identify as part of the Catholic Church now. By contrast, only nine percept of Latin America's population was raised in the Protestant tradition, but today 19 percent identify as Protestant. The number of religiously unaffiliated people is also rising, going from four percent raised without religion to currently eight percent identifying as no religion today.
As for various reasons why Latin Americans are leaving the Catholic Church, 81 percent of those who responded said that they are seeking a personal connection with God; 69 percent saidthey enjoy the style of worship at a new church, while 60 percent said that they wanted a greater emphasis on morality. more >>
The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis will set up a panel to help process the "backlog" of appeals from priests who've been accused of committing sexual abuse against minors. The new judicial body, or college, will be overseen by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
"Hearing the appeals is a very important job, especially those on abuse of minors, and the backlog of cases is at risk of absorbing all the time of the congregation," Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told The Tablet, a Catholic news weekly.
"[The accused] shall have his case examined by the whole body of members of the congregation, the ordinary session, which may also examine other specific cases upon papal request, and/or examine cases referred to it by the newly created college," he added. more >>
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York plans to merge more than 112 parishes into 55 new parishes this year, leading to the closure of as many as 33 churches.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, made the announcement of the mergers on All Saints Sunday.
"This time of transition in the history of the archdiocese will undoubtedly be difficult for people who live in parishes that will merge," stated Dolan. "There will be many who are hurt and upset as they experience what will be a change in their spiritual lives, and I will be one of them." more >>
Pope Francis is set to open the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" conference at the Vatican on Nov.17-19, which is dedicated to traditional marriage and is set to feature speakers from various Christian churches, as well as from Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism. Russell D. Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that he accepted the invitation in order to bear witness to what evangelicals believe about marriage.
While noting that the different religious traditions who will be speaking have "real and ongoing differences on soteriology and ecclesiology," Moore noted on his website that he is "willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled."
Catholic News Service reported that the event will feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries, and will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society." more >>
Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, successfully raised the $7.8 million the congregation was required to pay Presbyterian Church (USA) by Monday's deadline to keep its property.
In October 2013, a supermajority of the congregation voted to end their affiliation with PCUSA and join the smaller, more conservative Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.
"The funds for the settlement were raised entirely by the generous giving of the congregation of Highland Park Presbyterian Church. HPPC did not take on any debt to pay the settlement," Zack House, a spokesman for the church, told The Christian Post. more >>
Authors of the recently released Next: Pastoral Succession That Works say the book was written after discovering that Christian leaders and churches are often looking for resources to help them with the process of finding a successor for the lead pastor, and that most pastors do not have a plan in place.
"The culture has recently shifted. Pastors are both willing to think about their own succession and also are looking for resources to help them, their families, and their boards to wisely handle their preparation," Warren Bird, research director for the Leadership Network, told The Christian Post.
"We tried to balance the book with a brief biblical foundation that affirms ways good leaders plan ahead, with numerous real-life specific stories, and with solid research." more >>