.- A study carried by the Chilean research firm Latinobarometro revealed that the Church continues to be the most trustworthy and respected institution for 75% of Latin Americans, ahead of politicians, journalists, businessmen, policemen and judges. Marta Lagos, director of Latinobarometro, said the poll shows that despite the decline of the number of Catholics on the continent from 80% in 1995 to 71% in 2004, the Church continues to be “the moral leader and source of legitimacy” for people, as well as “the strongest reference point for each of the Latin American societies.” Evidence can be found in the fact that in nine years the percentage of people who say they trust the Church has grown from 67 to 75%.
The study took place in 2004 in seventeen countries of Latin America.
Lagos says the Church in Latin America has experienced “a relatively mild decline” if compared with Europe, “where Catholics have now become a minority in many countries.”
Nevertheless, according to the poll, the number of evangelicals in Latin America has grown from 3% in 1995 to 13% in 2004, while the number of those who do not identify themselves with any religion rose from 4 to 8% in the same period of time.
The study shows that the countries with the highest Catholic populations in Latin America include Ecuador and Paraguay with 84%, followed by Venezuela with 83%, Argentina and Colombia with 81%, Mexico with 78% and Peru with 77%. The country with the lowest Catholic population is Uruguay with 51%, and of these only 42% consider themselves practicing Catholics.