Papas, santos y competencia religiosa

CAMBRIDGE – La elección del primer papa no europeo era una asignatura pendiente desde hacía mucho tiempo. Después de todo, la región de donde proviene el Papa Francisco, América latina, hoy es hogar de casi la mitad de los católicos del mundo (44%). Pero la Iglesia Católica cada vez cede más terreno a manos de la competencia protestante allí y en otras partes.

Sólo hay que echarle un vistazo a las estadísticas. El evangelicalismo es la religión mundial de más rápido crecimiento por conversión -una tendencia que sustenta la fuerte expansión del protestantismo en América latina, tradicionalmente católica romana-. Los protestantes en América latina representaban apenas el 2,2% de la población en 1900, pero el 16,4% en 2010, y el crecimiento se produjo principalmente a expensas de los católicos, cuyo porcentaje en la población cayó de 90,4% a 82,3%.

La Iglesia Católica entiende esta competencia, pero enfrenta una escasez crónica de curas. En consecuencia, la creación de santos se está convirtiendo en una manera importante de retener a los fieles.

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