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Roman Catholicism in Guatemala

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Roman Catholicism in Guatemala

The Catholic Church in Guatemala is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under spiritual leadership of the Pope, Curia in Rome and the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala. There are approximately 5 million Catholics in Guatemala, which is about 50-60% of the total population.[1]
Symbol of Catholicism


  • History 1
    • Introduction of Protestantism 1.1
    • Charismatic Catholicism 1.2
    • Status of Religious Freedom 1.3
    • San Andrés Xécul Church 1.4
  • Turmoil in Guatemala 2
    • Social Discrimination and Disputes 2.1
    • Revolution and Disaster 2.2
  • Organization of the Roman Catholic Church in Guatemala 3
    • Dioceses 3.1
  • References 4
  • See also 5


Introduction of Protestantism

Historically, Guatemala has been predominately Roman Catholic. Beginning in 1959, after Fidel Castro began the Cuban Revolution, the Vatican became increasingly aware of the number of Protestant missionaries traveling to Latin America. Following this realization, several Catholic priests and missionaries traveled to Latin America to increase the number of priests and baptized Latinos. Over the past few decades, Protestantism has grown throughout the area. Guatemala currently contains the largest amount of Protestants (approximately 25%)[1] than any other Latin American country. The largest Protestant denominations present in Guatemala today are Presbyterians, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Baptists, and Episcopalians. Protestants first began to arrive in Guatemala in 1882 as a result of President Rufino Barrios desire to challenge the power of the Roman Catholic Church. He invited several Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist missionaries, but only when Pentecostal missionaries arrived from the United States did Guatemala see an influx in Protestant converts.[2]

Charismatic Catholicism

clergy. In the mid twentieth century, Catholic Guatemalans feared that Catholicism would become the minority to Protestantism. Many Catholics began converting to Protestantism instead during this time period. Also, there were very few native Guatemalan priests because this job was mostly taken up by missionaries from the United States. The Charismatic Catholics bounced back with a large number of foreign missionaries, an increase in Guatemalan priests, and other lay revitalization within the Church as a whole. They believed that "the quest for identity was important and difficult" in the changing modern times.[3]

Status of Religious Freedom

There is no state religion in Guatemala, however the [1]

San Andrés Xécul Church

San Andrés Xecul Catholic Church

The San Andrés Xecul is a Catholic church in the Western Highland of Guatemala built in 1900. It is painted in baroque style architecture, and was restored in 2008. The outside walls of the church contain 200 painted sculptures of humans, angels, monkeys, fruit, corn, and birds of all different colors. These images are important to Mayan people who live in this region because it contains many agricultural images which symbolize this regions main source of economy. Also, the design of the outside of the San Andrés Xécul is similar to the huipils worn by Guatemala women. Inside the church there are chandeliers made from glass stone, coins, rosary beads, candles, and other depictions and sculptures of Christ.[4]

Turmoil in Guatemala

Social Discrimination and Disputes

There have been several disputes between Roman Catholics and the indigenous

See also

  1. ^ a b c d "Guatemala: International Religious Freedom Report 2006". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Duffey, Michael K. "Religious diversity, societal change, and ecumenical prospects in Guatemala.". Journal of Ecumenical Studies. Retrieved 2011. 
  3. ^ Cleary, Edward, L. (2011). Charismatic Catholicism in Latin America. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. 
  4. ^ "San Andrés Xecul Church". Sacred Destinations. Retrieved 6 December 2011. 
  5. ^ Duffey, Michael K. "Religious diversity, societal change, and ecumenical prospects in Guatemala.". Journal of Ecumenical Studies. Retrieved 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Guatemala: All Dioceses". Catholic-Hierarchy. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 



Organization of the Roman Catholic Church in Guatemala

During the 1960s, revolutionary upheaval began in Guatemala City. After the armed movement was put down by the Guatemalan Army, the movement came back stronger than before. It was now called the Guerilla Army of the Poor, and began violently killing thousands of indigenous Mayans and burning their villages through the country's western highlands. The Guerilla Army of the Poor targeted mostly Catholic priests and church workers throughout their destruction. Guatemala again experienced more destruction in 1976 when an earthquake took the lives of 20,000 people and injured 80,000 more. The Roman Catholic Church in Guatemala began to fear further destruction, and asked for assistance from the United States and several other European countries.[2]

Revolution and Disaster


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