Expats and Religion in Latin America
No matter what part of the world you live in, what your social standing is or what your religious views
are, the announcement of the 266th pontiff, Pope Francis, was an event that made headlines worldwide. The fact that he originates from Latin America – Argentina, more specifically – makes the appointment even more significant as he is the first non-European pope since the Middle Ages.
This got us thinking… if you’re considering a move to Latin America, does religion play a part in your decision? That being said, your thought process could go either way… your religion (or lack thereof) or the prominent religion in the country you’re considering.
If you’re looking into International real estate, chances are you’re doing a lot of research on the countries you’re considering (for tips on making those first steps into purchasing International real estate, go HERE). If that’s the case, you have no doubt discovered that the main religion within Latin America is Roman Catholic. However, similar to many people around the world, they may declare themselves as Roman Catholic, or any other religion, but may not be actively practicing. This doesn’t mean that they’re not devout…
As a foreigner, there are many things you’ll find different about living in this part of the world. When it comes to religion, you’ll find that the majority of people may be physically supportive of their devotion, but it’s rare that anyone will push their beliefs upon you. You can see this physical evidence in jewelry worn by both men and women or paraphernalia – altars, icons, statues, rosaries, etc – within a private home. These are (typically) for that specific person and their family, as reminders or to use in prayer, more so then to tell or show other people.
In North America, there tends to be more diversity of religions from around the world and this has had a hand in creating a stigma associated with religion. For example, just because people wear a “What Would Jesus Do” bracelet or light a menorah during Hanukkah, doesn’t mean they’re looking to convert you or impart their religion onto you, they’re simply celebrating their democratic right. But to some people, these customs are misconstrued as offensive or pushy. Perhaps you’d find similar behavior in large, urban areas of Latin America, but for the most part you will not experience this kind of discrimination at all.
All of this being said, deep religious roots in Latin America means a plethora of fiestas, carnivals and parades happen quite frequently. Take, for example, Costa Rica… it’s not uncommon for this gregarious, fun-loving country to celebrate several times in one month!
As an expat living in this country, or any other Latin American country, part of the experience is joining in on the fun and partaking in these events – regardless of your religious beliefs. There is most always guaranteed to be incredible food and drink, fireworks and families enjoying their time together and with friends and neighbors.
While religion (and all that comes with it) is important in Latin America, most everyone you meet has a “live and let live” attitude. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who is judgmental or disapproving, as they tend to care more about personal character and good manners over your religious beliefs.
If you’re considering a property purchase in Latin America and want to check it out for yourself, head down on a Discovery Weekend and experience a part of the world that’s rich in culture, tradition and, of course, stunning vistas.