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Brazil is a country in South America. The official language is Portugese.

Roman Catholicism[]

Brazil's main religion since the 16th century has been Christianity, predominantly Roman Catholicism. This religion was introduced by the missionaries who accompanied the Portuguese explorers and settlers of Brazil. Brazil has the largest number of baptized Roman Catholics on Earth — about 80% of Brazilians claiming to be Catholics. However, about 20% of the population of Brazil actually attends Mass on a regular basis.

Popular traditions of Roman Catholicism in Brazil include pilgrimages to the Appeared Lady, Senhora Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil. Other prominent festivals include Círio in Belém and the Festa do Divino in central Brazil. The Roman Catholic Church in Brazil is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome.

There are an estimated 145 million Catholics in Brazil - the highest number of any country in the world, representing 79% of the total population.

There are over 250 dioceses and other territorial jurisdictions in the country.

It is said that the first Mass celebrated in Brazil was on Easter Sunday in the year 1500 by a priest in the party who claimed possession for Portugal. Evangelization began some years later, and a diocese was erected in 1551. The Church showed notable progress in the colonial period, especially 1680-1750, even though hampered by government policy. The Church and government had contrary goals as regarding the Amazon Indians, whom the government was exploiting and reducing to slavery. In 1782, the Jesuits were suppressed, and other missionaries expelled as well. Liberal anti-clerical influence grew, and the government tightened control on the Church. After Brazil declared independence from Portugal in 1822, government control became even tighter, under the new emperors (Pedro I & II, son and grandson of the King of Portugal). In 1891, Brazil became a republic and approved a constitution which freed the Church from state control. In the 20th century, such controversial issues as theological liberalism and the question of the mixing of Catholic ritual with rites from other sources continued to provoke much discussion within the Church.

Other Christian Denominations[]

Brazil also has many other offshoots of Christianity. These include neo-Pentecostalists, old Pentecostalists and Evangelicals, predominantly from Minas Gerais to the South. In the same region, mainly Minas Gerais and São Paulo, large sections of the middle class, about 1-2% of the total population, is Kardecist, sometimes pure, sometimes in syncretism with Roman Catholicism. Protestantism is generally the only religion in Brazil relatively free of syncretism. Centers of neo-Pentecostalism are Londrina in Paraná state, as well as the state capitals of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais.

See also Demographics_of_Brazil#Religion|Roman Catholicism in Brazil

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