The Church & Indigenous Peoples

Last week we announced our formal partnership with Mirada Global , an online magazine that brings together material from Jesuit publications in North and South America. As part of this collaboration we will be featuring weekly links to articles from MG. Here is our latest offering, a  reflection on the church's relationship with the indigenous peoples in Brazil:

Choosing a religion, a ritual, changing faith, syncretizing doctrines and images, creating sacred spaces, is a phenomenon which is intrinsic to the history of humanity. This has always happened and will continue to happen. In the indigenous world we have ethnic groups that chose the most varied religions and sects: a) the Ticuna Indians of the Catholic, Evangelical, Crusade Order in the Amazon (2); b) Anglican Indians in Argentina (3); c) the Macuxi of the Orinoco Basin in Roraima where only catholic and evangelical Indians can carry out shamanism and healing rituals. The Ingaricó, an ethnic group of the same linguistic branch, celebrated an Indigenous-Christian syncretism called areruia, ministered by a pastor and celebrated with dances and a beverage made out of potato and corn; d) at the Boca do Acre, in a tiny blue wooden church in the village of Jamandi, I saw an Indian preaching the word “Alleluia! Alleluia!”; f) The ritual demonstration of the Kocamas is new because they long since lost their own ancient shamanic rituals which derived from the Tupi tradition, as they are their descendents.



Among so many events, the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Indigenous peoples reveals the multiple faces of Brazil’s religious tradition. The Catholic Church no longer imposes its doctrine in the villages —it can be invited and then make a proposal—. Above anything else, what is valid today is the dialogue that seeks common good, respect and friendship, inter-religious dialogue, because that is the evangelizing mission of the Church. This is what can be rightfully called ‘the spirit of dialogue’.

Read "Indians, Church: New Dialogues."

Tim Reidy


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