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Religion In Peru

Peru's principal religion is Roman Catholicism, as with many other Latin American nations. It is the official state religion and has been exerting influence on affairs of the state and daily administration for the past 400 years. Most church activities and clergy are centered in and around Lima, which is the state capital.

Most of the official functions of the state are incorporated into the rites of the church. The investiture of the president begins with high mass in the cathedral, followed by Holy Week events and then the celebration of major Peruvian saints' days and festivals, like Santa Rosa de Lima.

Historically, the policies of the Church have been considered very conservative and high handed in their dealings with the native Quechua and Aymara people. It was only in the fifties that this policy was substantially changed with many foreign priests coming into the clergy. This resulted in the materialization of a powerfully populist and social activist theme among several of the clergy with many priests and nuns working to lend a hand to the poor.

As the dominant religion ruling over a group of people that uphold their strong native cultural traditions, Roman Catholicism is intricately mixed with the features of Incaic thinking and following. The native inhabitants hold firm animistic concepts about the spirits and forces that are present in natural settings. The Incas and other Andean people venerated the inti (sun), the pacha mama (earth mother), and other gods. In converting the people to Catholicism, the Spaniards followed a purposeful tactic of syncretism where in they replaced Christian saints for local deities and often used existing temple location as the setting of churches.

The church reigned supreme after the conquest of the region and the viceroyalty. However, after independence, it lost its exclusive control over various facets such as education, marriages, and influence in daily affairs. However, parish priests and bishops play significant roles in local affairs. The rituals of the Catholic religion, moral principles, and values are deeply entrenched in Peruvian culture.

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