Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Full of the Holy...

Our local church in Panorama often seems to resemble a social club for closet Protestants and homosexuals. 

Indeed, what remains of Roman Catholicism in Guatemala - leaving aside the annual dirge of Semana Santa - tends to involve rather a lot of clapping and hugging.

16% of the population belongs to one Protestant (Pentecostal) group or another, and 6 out of 10 Guatemalan Catholics are now said to be of the Charismatic persuasion. 

It was much-loved Pope John Paul II who helped finish off the Liberation Theology movement and its vision of a mass popular church in Latin America, largely through the preferment of the more goose-stepping kind of prelate to the region's most important Sees. 

The biggest building in all Central America belongs to the Fraternidad Cristiana de Guatemala. It has seats for 12,000 worshipers plus spaces for 3500 vehicles outside, and cost $20m to build. 

The 'Frater' was founded in 1979 by the genuinely charismatic pastor Dr. Jorge H. Lopez, whose sermons are broadcast every Sunday morning on Channel 7, sandwiched - not entirely inappropriately - between comedy shows. Watching them is one of my nascent pecadillos out here in Guatemala.

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