The phenomenon of priests taking up popular styles of music and ministry to fight the influence of evangelicals is becoming more common in Chile, as in the rest of Latin America.
Catholics adapting the style of evangelicals and Pentecostals as a strategy to counter evangelical growth in Latin America may have started in Brazil, as priests donned the styles of performers and stressed charismatic practices The Tablet (April 14) a British Catholic magazine, reports that a new generation of Chilean priests is breaking with tradition and evangelizing people where they find them — in their homes, even on the beach.
Fr. Andres Vasquez walks the beaches of the resort city of Las Cruces in his swimming suit talking to parishioners and hearing confessions.
Most of these priests were ordained in the 1990s, after the era of church activism against General Augusto Pinochet, and tend to concentrate on religious rather than social issues. But they are often found in the poorest parishes, where the popular approach — such as using electric guitars or holding services outdoors — is seen as the best way to cope with the rapid growth of evangelicals and non-Catholic groups.
The new informality coexists with a concern for tradition, adds journalist Owain Johnson. There has been a return to traditional clerical vestments–such as the dog collar and cassock–that were de-emphasized by priests involved in social action.
(The Tablet, 1 King St., Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London, W6 0Q2 UK)