Religion: Lapsing Latin America

The Roman Catholic Church is losing ground fast among its 168 million members in Latin America—close to one-third of all the Catholics in the world. This is the considered opinion of a Belgian Jesuit sociologist who has spent the last three years in Chile, is now director of the School of Sociology of Chile's Catholic Pontifical University. The church's difficulties, says the Rev. Roger E. Vekemans in the weekly Ave Maria, began in the 19th century after the Latin American countries achieved independence from Spain and Portugal and thus were thrown open to such influences as Protestantism, spiritism and plain materialism.

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