Manifestation of Catholicism in colonial Brazil - Essay Example

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Roman Catholicism, having been the main religion in Brazil since the beginning of 16th century, makes Brazil the country with the highest number of Catholics in the world. Jesuits missionaries, having introduced the religion among the Brazilians, and early Portuguese settlers…
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Manifestation of Catholicism in colonial Brazil
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Manifestation of Catholicism in Colonial Brazil Roman Catholicism, having been the main religion in Brazil since the beginning of 16th century, makes Brazil the country with the highest number of Catholics in the world. Jesuits missionaries, having introduced the religion among the Brazilians, and early Portuguese settlers having observed the religion, contributed to its dominance over time. it was however the lack of freedom of religion during colonial Brazil that contributed to the high numbers of the Catholicism following. During the colonial era in Brazil, natives were forced to pay taxes to the churches and at the same time bound forcefully by the catholic faith. Notably, even after the independence of the country, the 1824 constitution made catholic the official religion in the country. The imperial government then even paid salaries to catholic priests and influenced the appointments of the bishops in the country then, thus making the religion rather strong in the country than in any part of the world.
The Brazilian hierarchy consists of four cardinals, thirty archbishops and 128 bishops. The region, divided into seventy-seven ecclesiastical provinces, has an additional one archdiocese, commonly known as Brasilia. Excepting for only a few exceptions of provinces such as the state of Sao Paulo, which has five provinces, minas Gerais with three provinces, and Rio de Janeiro with two, most of these provinces corresponds to the state boundaries.
The vicars general were the, the reactors of the Jesuit College, as well as the priors of the Benedictine, Franciscan and Calamite converts were the highest local ecclesiastical officials. The tribunal of the Lisbon, having gained supremacy over Brazil in the year 1551, undertook the role of overlooking into the religious and moral practices of the Brazilian people. Headed by the inquisitor general who was the president of the general council, oversaw the activities of other tribunals ion his jurisdiction. However, in case of matters relating to the policies and procedures, the general and the general council reined supremacy, unless the pope decided to rule differently. Temporary tribunals visited Brazil, and with the help of the police, undertook their mandate of inquisition (Wadsworth 19).
The Portuguese inquisition, having officially begun in the year 1536, Brazil inhabited then the only the extreme margins of the empire of Portuguese, thus eliciting little concern from the inquisitors in Lisbon. The backdrops of colonial history, which painted the pictures of inquisition in Spain in 1478, saw the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the year 1492 and the admission of almost 100000 Spanish Jews into Portugal (Daniela web). The early catholic church allowed bishops to inquire the on the matters of faith and morals from among the people. They had the power to try the heretics on the matters of faith in the society. Among the authorities that the bishops had in inquisition was to administer the capital punishments to the heretics, conduct autos de fe and to excommunicate. It is important to note that inquisition was subject to the king, headed by the grand inquisitor, named by the pope but selected by the king, who was always from the holy family. The grand inquisitor held the responsibility of nominating other inquisitors. There were courts established only for the inquisition purposes. There was a heavy reliance of secular ecclesiastical authority, which went beyond the support at the autos-de-fe, which extended close to every inquisition’s activities.
Works Cited
Daniela, Calainho. "Agents of Orthodoxy: Honor, Status, and the Inquisition in Colonial Pernambuco, Brazil (review)." The Catholic Historical Review 98.1 (2012): 181-182. Project MUSE. Web. 26 November. 2013.
Wadsworth, James E. "2004." In the Name of the Inquisition: The Portuguese Inquisition and Delegated Authority in Colonial Pernambuco, Brazil The Catholic Historical Review (61.1 ): 19-52. Web. 26 November 26, 2013 Read More
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