Guatemala: A Testing Group for U.S. Religious Sects

Following Rockefeller Plan, They Have Attracted 30% of the Population

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GUATEMALA CITY, JULY 30, 2002 ( Brother Pedro de San José de Betancur’s canonization could give a boost to the Church in Guatemala, a country overrun with non-Catholic sects.

According to some experts, over the past 30 years, Protestant groups and assorted religious sects have succeeded in attracting 30% of the population.

José Elías, secretary of the International Movement of the Church of God and Pentecost, an evangelical denomination, estimates that there are 10,000 fundamentalist groups in Guatemala.

In the province of Solola, there are more than 500 evangelical places of worship compared with 194 Catholic facilities, although most of the former are empty.

In recent years, Vatican officials have stated that Guatemala has become a sort of experiment for U.S. fundamentalist groups to penetrate Latin America.

In statements published by the Notimex agency on Jan. 3, 1999, Mexican Archbishop Javier Lozano Barragán, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, revealed that the origin of this invasion is found in a report written by Nelson A. Rockefeller to President Richard Nixon in August 1969.

The Rockefeller document maintained that after the Second Vatican Council, «the Catholic Church is no longer a trustworthy ally for the United States and the guarantee of social stability in the (South American) continent.» He insisted, therefore, on «the need to replace Catholics with other Christians in Latin America.»

Rockefeller also asked that «Christian fundamentalist groups (Protestants)» be supported, as well as «churches of the Moon and Hare Krishna type.»

Moreover, Archbishop Barragán revealed that the sects had fixed the year 2000 as their target to have 50% of the Guatemalan population in their ranks, an objective that has clearly failed.

One of the most influential members of the fundamentalist groups is former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.

Ríos Montt, current president of the Guatemalan Congress, was for years a virulent preacher on a television program. On the eve of John Paul II’s first visit to Guatemala in 1983, Ríos Montt executed six prisoners despite the Pope’s request for clemency.

«Before, 99% were Catholics, but many had no commitment, they were only nominal Catholics; now we have 70%,» Bishop Fernando C. Gamalero of Escuintla said Sunday.

«What is most important is the quality of the Catholic, which is very superior» today, he said.

The decrease in the number of Catholics is due, in part, to the aggressive recruitment techniques of the sects, the bishop explained. «They engage in a sort of terrorism against the Catholic Church,» he said.

He also blames the financial clout of U.S. religious groups. «When a Catholic asks for a job, if the administrator of a farm or assembly plant is an evangelical, he is refused,» the bishop concluded.

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