AMERICAS CONQUEST - SWORD AND CROSS #2
26. The effort to put Europe Roman Catholic Christianity on the Americas, produced a blend of religions which is there in Latin America to this day.
27. Blending of old symbols with new meanings or with new symbols with old meanings - a terminology called "syncretism."
28. The blends - folk Catholicism - indigenous areas and African Americanism. They mix to produce new religions - American religions - not African, not Indian, not European.
29. The spiritual conquest in very successful to a point. Millions are converted to "Christianity" but, unlike the military conquest, the spiritual conquest is not complete. Though millions of Latin Americans claim to be roman catholic, a large number engage in customs and practices that are non-Christian,
30. With 400 million Latin American Catholics, it is the largest region of Catholics in the world.
31. Brazil, with 160 million population, is the largest Roman Catholic country in the world. There are as many bishops in Brazil as in Italy.
32. But there is a blending of Western and non-Western beliefs.
33. The end of religious intolerance in Latin America in early 19th century, to create a single Catholic region, ends. A single united religion is over.
34. Protestants move in. Religious diversity begins early in the 19th century.
35. Spain and Portugal impose secular government forms, but fail to win all the hearts and souls of the people spiritually.
36. Latin America today is clearly Western. Political - Legal - Languages.
37. But "folk" religion remains. Millions held deeply religious beliefs; societies for centuries holding their religious beliefs. Military conquest is not spiritual conquest.
38. The people had a different outlook on life compared to Europeans. A wheel of life as in the Aztec and Inca peoples. Different from Judah-Christian linear time. They have many many gods. They see gods behind all things and all forces. They attempted to influence them for their advantage [i.e good crops]. Even human sacrifice as in the Aztec Empire. Blood letting to appease a god.
39. The Maya had realms of heaven and hell as in Christianity. The Catholic priest will draw connections in an effort to win them to Rome. The Maya have a pyramid religion - a starry heaven - a middle earth - a dark water under the earth world. Pyramid structures are built - chief or king or priest stands atop to blood-let (human sacrifice) to a god.
40. Only having a few hundred Roman Catholic priests and nuns, to win all to Catholicism is slow and incomplete.
41. Religious Syncretism: example -- "Cult of the Virgin of Guadeloupe." A blend of pre-Columbian beliefs and Catholicism. Virgin appears to a peasant 1531. He goes to Juan de Zumarraga - Franciscan bishop of Mexico. He doesn't believe him. Bishop asks for more proof. The Indian goes back to the hill-side again. Virgin appears again. She tells him to gather roses and place them in his mantle. He comes before the bishop, opens up his mantle, roses fall out - image of virgin appears on his mantle. If you go to the basilica in the suburbs of Mexico city, this is the mantle above the altar.
42. The hill-side where the virgin appeared was the hill-side of the Aztec earth goddess - Tonatzin.
43, A blending of religions.
44. It is a story based on no fact - invented to blend Catholicism with native religions.
45. This became a national cult in Mexico - the image of the virgin.
46. Another example: "Day of the Dead" or Dia de los Muertos. End of October into November - one week celebration. Bringing together living and dead family members. Family altars - food and drink for the dead. Aztec cult of the dead was very similar, as history records. A blending - Catholic "Hallows Eve" "All Souls Day" "All Saints Day." It is a major festival in Mexico even today.
47. These people claim to be "Catholic" but have rituals clearly pre-Columbian. Rituals that Catholics in the old world would not recognize.
48. It is all called "folk Catholicism" - Catholicism of the people.
49. Two "Catholicism" formed - Roman Catholic from Europe, but also "folk Catholicism" in the outlying country-side.
50. It was often a deliberate deception by the people to the priest - they still knew the ancient ritual - so outward form to the priest, but inward form to the ancient gods. Then as time goes - a subtle mixing - a blending of ancient religion with the new Catholicism, which dominated the overall mind-set.
51. But when the priest discovered this, the action was ferocious.
TO BE CONTINUED