Religion


Vatican: Pope eyes new Brazilian converts




Vatican City, 10 Sept. (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI on Friday urged the Catholic Church to launch a new evangelising campaign in Brazil. The church faced an unprecedented challenge from new Christian proselytising groups that were continuing to spring up in the traditionally Roman Catholic country, he said.

"The continual increase of new Christian groups, some of which adopt aggressive proselytism, continues to pose a challenge," the pontiff told a group of Brazilian Catholic bishops visiting Rome.

Many people in the ethnically and cultural mixed country have abandoned the Catholic faith, while Evangelical and neo-Pentecostal churches have rapidly expanded there over the past few decades, he said.

"The success of these groups is a sign of a widespread thirst for God among your people," Benedict stressed.

The Catholic Church in Brazil must "commit to a new evangelisation which spares no efforts in seeking out lapsed Catholics and people who know little or nothing of the evangelical message," the pontiff said.

Catholic priests must also undertake "ecumenical dialogue" with "new groups who claim to follow Christ, though divided among various communities and confessions," Benedict said.

"Dialogue among Christians", Pope Benedict went on, "is a current imperative and an indispensable option for the Church.

Brazil - a regional leader and emerging economic power - is the largest and most populous South American country.

Around three quarters of its population are nominally Roman Catholic.




 

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