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Bishop warns on sects political ambitions in Latin America

A Latin American bishop visiting Germany has waarned that religious sects are organising themselves to manipulate governments on the continent.

Bishop Jorge Jiménez Carvajal said the most blatant case of political influence by a sect converns the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. It is headed by Brazilian Edir Macedo, who has secured sizeable compulsory contributions from his followers, resulting in the establishment of a significant communications and banking empire in Brazil. The bishop said this sect is spreading to other Latin American countries and Europe.

Many sects oblige members to contribute 10% of their income, Bishop Jiménez Carvajal said. Those tithes, coupled with considerable funding from U.S.-based groups, help fuel the sects' rapid growth, he added.

Last month John Paul II, meeting with members of the Papal Commission for Latin America, described the growth of sects as a "serious obstacle to the evangelisation effort".

"Resolute pastoral action is necessary to address this grave question," the Holy Father said, "by reviewing pastoral methods used, strengthening structures of communion and mission, and taking advantage of possibilities of evangelisation offered by a purified popular religiosity."