Revitalization movements, social change, and justice: brazil's toca de assis in global perspective

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Forthcoming in Steven O’Malley, ed., Interpretive Trends in Christian Revitalization for the Early Twenty First Century. Lexington, Kentucky, USA: Emeth Press. ISBN 978-1-60947-018-0.

Revitalization Movements, Social Change, and Justice: Brazil's Toca de Assis in Global Perspective Sílvia R.A. Fernandes Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Bryan T. Froehle SaintThomas University, Miami, USA

Studying trends among Pentecostals, Reformation-based traditions, Catholics, and other major groupings of world Christianity can no longer be done in isolation. This is particularly true with regard to Christian revitalization. While the end of modernity may spell the demise of expectations for a single global metanarrative, the fragmentation, hybridity, andglobalization characteristic of postmodernity meld previously disparate stories and trajectories. Borders have become more porous, and the story of one region or Christian confession has become more parallel and overlapping. Today more than ever, revitalization studies of any single case in any one context offer insight for cases embedded in other contexts, including other Christian traditions. Thischapter explores world Catholicism in light of a particular Catholic revitalization movement in order to explore broader interpretive trends tied to questions of social change and justice in world Christian revitalization. A Common Global Reality World Christian Revitalization The rise of the global south within contemporary Christianity may be ascribed to demographic trends and colonial legacies,buts its effects are world historical, broadly transformative in nature. Any emerging understanding of world Christian revitalization must now be global and comparative. In the case of world Catholicism, the shift to the global south is clear. Within the past 50 years, the proportion of Catholics in Africa increased four-fold, from 3 percent to 12 percent of all Catholics
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worldwide.Catholics in North America (the USA and Canada) remained about 7 percent of all Catholics in the world, but Europe, which had 49 percent of all Catholics in 1950, had only 27 percent by 2000. Today, the Americas—North and South America taken together—have 49 percent of all Catholics worldwide. In 1900, the four countries with the largest numbers of Catholics were in Europe. Today those countries have beensupplanted by Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, and the USA.1 More important than mere numbers are the changes in Catholic worshipping communities. In the time after the Council of Trent, and with roots reaching centuries before, Catholic worshipping communities had been territorially defined parishes assembling in officially-established parish churches.2 The result in many cases has been a kindof sacramental dispensary, a kind of ―service station‖ model of Catholic parish life. A community’s prior existence was generally assumed, but a community focus was not part of the understanding of the Tridentine parish model. The Second Vatican Council (1963-1965) and the resulting revised Code of Canon Law (1983) changed this selfunderstanding: most parishes continue to be correlated with aspecific geography, but now as communities of the faithful.3 Arguably, it has taken the lived experience of the past five decades, particularly the combined effect of the global south in Catholic life and population declines and shifts in the global north, for this new self-understanding to take root. Today, using the Vatican’s term of ―pastoral centers‖ to refer to any established worship site, onecan observe an historical difference between the North Atlantic and most of the rest of global Catholicism. In the former, pastoral centers have been coterminous with parish churches. In the latter, there are many more worship sites than parish churches, whether chapels, shrines, mission stations, or other small, stable worshipping communities.4 Their management is by definition less formal and...
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