[Fr. Edward L. Cleary is a professor of political science and the director of Latin American studies at Providence College.]
Fr. Edward Cleary has just published a new book on faith, religion, and the Latin American people. It is a must read for all those interested in our brothers and sisters in this part of America. In the last forty years much has happened to undermine the faith of these staunchly catholic people. But, there are seeds of hope, and wonderful things happening that offer promise for the future of Christianity and the the Catholic Church in this part of the world. Although the Pentecostal Church has spear headed a major religious revival and recruited thousands of new members, Catholicism has become more dynamic and fostered a more committed faith response. Just listen to these statistics that Fr. Cleary reports:
In Honduras, the national seminary had an enrollment of 170 in 2007, an all-time high for a country where the total number of priests is slightly more than 400. Twenty years ago, there were fewer than 40 candidates. Bolivia saw the most remarkable increase; in 1972, the entire country had 49 seminarians, while in 2001 the number was 714, representing growth of 1,357 percent. Overall, seminarians in Latin America have increased 440 percent in the last two decades.