The New Evangelization - America









Ecuador
– Republic on west coast of South America: capital, Quito. Christianity was introduced in the 1530s, the first diocese 1545. Highly influential during colonial period, the Church was practically enslaved by constitution enacted (1824) after independence from Spain. Some improvement later in century, but the Church seriously restricted until relations with state redefined in 1937. Today's challenge is continued evangelization of restive Quechua Indians, who make up 40% of the population. Catholics 92% of total population.


El Salvador – A republic in South America: capital, San Salvador. Evangelization followed the Spanish occupation in the 1520s. Independence from Spain was declared in 1821, and the country was annexed to Mexico. It again declared independence in 1841 and became a republic in 1856. In recent years, the Church suffered violence at the hands of combatants in a long civil war (1980-1992), the end of which Church leaders help to achieve. Catholics are 79% of the population.


Falkland Islands – A British colony off the southern tip of South America: capital, Port Stanley. The islands are also called Islas Malvinas by Argentina, which disputes England’s sovereignty. Catholics are 10% of the population.


French Guiana – A French possession on NE coast South America. Catholicism was introduced in the 17th century. A diocese was established in 1956 in the capital, Cayenne. Catholics are 80% of the population.


Grenada – An independent island in the West Indies: capital, St. George's. Catholics are 54% of the population.


Guadeloupe – A French possession in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies: capital, Basse-Terre. Catholicism was introduced in the 16th century. Catholics are 95% of the population.


Guatemala – A republic in Central America: capital, Guatemala City. Evangelization began with the Spanish occupation in 1524. A diocese for all Central America was established in 1534. It was annexed to Mexico in 1821, seceded in 1823, joined the Central American Federation in 1825, and became independent in 1839. In 1870, after a liberal revolution, a concordat with the Church was repudiated. Religious orders were suppressed, their property seized, priests and religious exiled, and schools secularized. Freedom was subsequently restored to the Church. In the 20th century, there was a civil war lasting 36 years (till 1996). During this period, Church leaders spoke out against atrocities and suffered persecution. The peace process was orchestrated in part by Bishops, though one Bishop was murdered for documenting wartime abuses. Catholics are 82% of the population.


Guyana – A republic on the north coast of South America: capital, Georgetown. The Churches of England and Scotland had sole legal rights until 1899, when the Catholic Church among others was given equal status. Most Catholics are Portuguese. The Georgetown Diocese was established in 1956. In 1966, Guyana became independent of England. Its first native bishop was ordained in 1971. Catholics are 10.2% of the population.


Haiti – The eastern third of the island of Hispaniola (adjacent to the Dominican Republic), capital, Port-au-Prince. It was evangelized following its discovery by Columbus in 1492, and ceded by Spain  to France in 1697. Missions were established in the 18th century by Capuchins and Jesuits. In 1804 independence was declared from France, which left the country in schism. A concordat restored communion in 1860, when an archdiocese and four dioceses were formed. In the 1990s priests and religious were often targets of political violence, being seen as either independent or backing the government. Catholics are 82% of the population.


Honduras – Republic in Central America: capital, Tegucigalpa. It was evangelized under Spain, with the first diocese established in the 16th century. After independence was declared in 1823, the Church held a favored position until 1880, when equal status was accorded all religions. Harassment of priests and nuns accompanied civil unrest in the late 20th century. Catholics are 81% of the population.


Jamaica – Island in the West Indies, a member of the Commonwealth: capital, Kingston. Discovered by Columbus in 1494, it was evangelized by Franciscans and Dominicans from 1512 until 1655, when the English took possession. The Jesuits resumed mission work at the turn of the 19th century. An apostolic vicariate was set up in 1967. Catholics are 4.3% of the population.


Martinique – French possession in the West Indies: capital, For-de-France. Catholicism was introduced in the 16th century. The hierarchy was established in 1967. Catholics are 87% of the population.


Mexico – A republic in S North America: capital, Mexico City. Missionaries brought Catholicism to Mexico early in the 16th century, in the wake of the Spaniards. First came the Franciscans, then the Dominicans, then the Jesuits. Mexico City, the administrative center for New Spain, was declared a diocese in 1530. The missionaries defended the natives against government exploitation. The secular clergy, resenting intrusion from the religious orders, sided with the government. In turn, the government decreed the missionaries should have ten years to convert the natives, and then turn them over to the diocesan clergy. Close association between the brutal government and the secular clergy induced a negative attitude toward the Church in the lower classes. This attitude was overcome by the appearance of Our Lady of Guadeloupe to the farmer Juan Diego in 1551. In 1821, Mexico declared independence from Spain. Mexico was then governed by a new elite which was secular, materialist, and hostile to the Catholic Church. A new constitution in 1917, imbued with ideas from Socialism and Freemasonry, denied many civil rights to priests, men and women religious, and seminarians. It denied to Christians freedom of education, manifestation, press and political expression. In 1926, despite the fact that 99% of Mexicans were Catholic, the government reformed the penal code, with the intent that not only Catholic institutions, but Catholic culture, should be uprooted. Dozens of Catholics were executed, including priests and nuns, 24 of whom were canonized 21 May 2000. 
Since the 1940s, when restrictions ceased to be enforced with rigor, the Church’s situation has gradually improved. In 1991 the Church received legal recognition, though certain restrictions continued to be enforced (no freedom of education, manifestation, or use of the media by Churches). In 2000, with the election of a new President, Vincente Fox, and a new party in power, increased religious liberty seemed imminent. Improved relations between Church and State were in evidence July 2002 when the President welcomed John Paul II at Mexico's international airport, kissing his ring, and on the 192nd anniversary of Mexican independence, the following September, when the archbishop primate of Mexico honored the national flag in the courtyard of the metropolitan cathedral.
Even with some defections to Protestantism, Catholics make up 92% of the population of 135 million, making Mexico the second largest Catholic country in the world. 


Netherlands Antilles – Two groups of islands which are an independent part of The Netherlands: capital, Willemstad on Curacao. Christianity was introduced in the 16th century. Catholics are 82% of the population.

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