Rissa Arias

Ramon Arias | September 21, 2015

The National Catholic Reporter reported Friday that Vatican sources said the pope intends to visit several cities in America, especially Philadelphia, in late September 2015, during the Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families. The international gathering takes place every three years. This is the pope’s first visit to America and for millions of Catholics, his six-day visit will be a time of great celebration, but for those who are involved in security, this event is of great concern.

Three other Popes have visited America: In 1965, Pope Paul VI was the first. Pope John Paul II made the second papal visit to the United States in 1979, 1993 and 1999. Pope Benedict XVI’s visit took place in 2008.

Why is there so much interest in the pope’s visit to the United States? The number of adherents to the Catholic Church in this country is growing, especially with the influx of Latin American immigrants both legal and illegal. There are 69.4 million Catholic members in the United States; it comprises approximately 22% of the population.

From the very beginning of the Roman Catholic history, the Pope has played a significant role in religion, politics and economics. 

Francis is the first pope from Latin America; he was born in Argentina. His election took place at a time when the Catholic Church was losing millions of members. On November 13, 2014, The Pew Research Center put out an article titled, Religion in Latin America, Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region:

“Latin America is home to more than 425 million Catholics – nearly 40% of the world’s total Catholic population – and the Roman Catholic Church now has a Latin American pope for the first time in its history. Historical data suggest that for most of the 20th century, from 1900 through the 1960s, at least 90% of Latin America’s population was Catholic…. In nearly every country surveyed, the Catholic Church has experienced net losses from religious switching, as many Latin Americans have joined evangelical Protestant churches or rejected organized religion altogether.” 1

These statistics should put into perspective the papal visit to the United States. The culture of a society is the sum of their beliefs. If we want to get technical every human being that has ever lived, is living and shall live on this planet is influenced by a religious worldview, if you prefer, you can call it ideology. Ideas put into practice are like seeds sown in the soil that will produce after their own kind.

The overwhelming majority of American Catholics do not have any idea of the Roman Catholic’s faith influence since the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Those who have vacationed in Latin America, for the most part, are mesmerized by the culture and folklore without really understanding the root cause of their backwardness.

Have you ever asked yourself why Latin America is so different from the United States and Canada since we are in the same hemisphere? Latin America is rich in natural resources and the people are very resourceful and hardworking. Why then is there so much poverty, misery, corruption, oppression, revolutions, counter revolutions, tyranny, bribery, crime, acceptance of the Marxist ideology, a.k.a. socialism, and generation after generation of social decay? We find the answers to these questions when we understand the difference between the conquering Spaniards and Portuguese, and the purpose of the English Protestants Pilgrims’ arrival in 1620.

In May 1996, I had a private meeting with the secretary of the Latin Bishops where my friend and I presented and explained a plan that, if implemented, would help the Catholic Church bring a turn around for Latin America and help it to break away from 500 years of misery in the overwhelming majority of the population. Also, it would stop liberation theology in its tracks, or black liberation theology as it is known in the U.S. which got a little bit more attention due to Obama’s 20 years with pastor Jeremiah Wright. Wright is one of the main proponents of this ideology in America. I asked the secretary, at that time, to present the plan to Cardinal Ratzinger, and requested for him to take it to the pope who at that time was John Paul II.

Cardinal Ratzinger, was the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and was there to lead a meeting with the presidents of the Doctrinal Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences for Latin America. 

Not long after that meeting, in one of the main newspapers of Mexico, I read an obscure article hidden in one of the last pages in very small print that said, “Pope John Paul II orders the Bishops of Latin America to study the reasons why the United States of America is so prosperous being a Protestant society.” This was precisely what I had recommended. I have no doubt that they discovered the importance of Protestantism. To this day, I’m still waiting and searching to see what was the outcome of that published study, and to see if they ever made it available to the public to read and study it. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger later became Pope Benedict XVI. Latin America continues to suffer through unnecessary social turmoil.

There is a vast difference between Christian religion and Biblical Revelation when it is applied in all areas of life. Without a Biblical Reformation there is no hope for Latin America no matter how many Latin Popes surge from among her ranks.

Alexis de Tocqueville, was a Roman Catholic aristocratic French political thinker, historian and social philosopher who came to the U.S. in 1831. He wrote Democracy in America, a two-volume study of the American people and their Christianity and political institutions. I encourage you to analyze the text below and do further research about his statement, and also understand what really made America great. The following excerpt is taken from Chapter XVII from Democracy In America:

“By the side of every religion is to be found a political opinion, which is connected with it by affinity. If the human mind be left to follow its own bent, it will regulate the temporal and spiritual institutions of society in a uniform manner, and man will endeavor, if I may so speak, to harmonize earth with heaven. The greatest part of British America was peopled by men who, after having shaken off the authority of the Pope, acknowledged no other religious supremacy: they brought with them into the New World a form of Christianity which I cannot better describe than by styling it a democratic and republican religion. This contributed powerfully to the establishment of a republic and a democracy in public affairs; and from the beginning, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved…. 

“… On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day.”

When you see the masses praising their Bishop, ask yourself if America is rapidly heading in a direction toward something else other than what it was meant to be.