Religion and Politics in Latin America

Religion and Politics in Latin America: The Catholic Church in Venezuela & Colombia

Daniel H. Levine
Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 358
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  • Book Info
    Religion and Politics in Latin America
    Book Description:

    This book explores the transformations in religion in conjunction with political change. Professor Levine suggests, highlights the dynamic and dialectical interaction between religion and politics in general, and addresses the more universal problem of relating thought to action

    Originally published in 1981.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5458-5
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. PART I: The Problem and the Contexts
    • 1 Religion and Politics: The Nature of the Problem
      (pp. 3-17)

      Religion and politics grow and change together in all societies and cultures. Common structures of meaning and action knit the two domains into one, as notions of authority, hierarchy, and community (to name only a few points of contact) bring religious and political activists together—often in mutual support, often in conflict. This general phenomenon has peculiarly Latin American aspects as well; for in Latin America, religion and politics have been closely intertwined since the Conquest, providing ideological, material, and institutional support and legitimation to one another. But this relation, so central to the historical ethos of Latin American institutions...

    • 2 Religion and Politics, Politics and Religion: General Perspectives
      (pp. 18-55)

      Listen to the villagers of Solentiname, Nicaragua, discussing why the Angel of the Lord announced Jesus’ coming to the shepherds in the fields:

      Felipe: The angel came to them because they were working men, and I find this very important for us. Because they were poor little men who were working. They were watching over their sheep which is like taking care of cattle today. They were workers, laborers, poor people. The Angel of God could have gone to the king’s palace and said to him: “The Savior has been born.” But the angel didn’t go where the king was,...

    • 3 Settings for Change: Venezuela and Colombia
      (pp. 56-96)

      The Roman Catholic Church is both universal and particular. Spread over the entire world, it maintains considerable unity in doctrine and practices while nonetheless adapting to the contours of each particular society. The “secret” of this organizational success lies in a combination of strong institutional loyalties founded on the centrality of Rome with an extreme de facto decentralization. This high level of heterogeneity and decentralization raises the question of how change in the Church is related to social context: Is change primarily a process of internal transformation, or is it better understood in terms of a response to developments in...

  6. PART II: The Bishops and Their Worlds
    • 4 The Bishops: A Collective Portrait
      (pp. 99-141)

      Much of the impact of religious institutions depends on their leaders—on the problems they see, the roles they assume, their characteristic styles of action, and the constraints and imperatives they shape their action to fit. The study of elites, however, is not an end in itself. Rather, the analysis of Church elites is used here as a point of departure for analysis of the Church as a whole. My interest is not in Church elites per se, or in elite analysis in general, but rather in the relation between elite perspectives and predispositions and backgrounds, institutional structure, and social...

    • 5 Visions of the Church: Authority and Its Problems
      (pp. 142-170)

      Preceding chapters have touched briefly on the general issue of images of the Church and their relation to the concepts of authority held by Catholic elites. It is now time for a more complete analysis of these questions. This chapter begins by exploring several models of the Church now current in Catholicism, tracing their roots to alternative notions about the meaning of authority. These concepts and definitions are then examined in the context of the bishops’ responses to questions on several key dimensions, most notably: changes in the Church since the Second Vatican Council, recent changes within each national Church,...

    • 6 The Church and the World: Perception and Action
      (pp. 171-210)

      This chapter explores the political role of the Church. It begins with an analysis of the bishops’ views of social and political problems, and also of the kinds of actions they see as both possible and proper for the Church. The central issues of activism and violence, and their meaning for the Church, are considered separately. These social and political perspectives are then directly related to the dimensions of authority and ecclesiology discussed earlier. Finally, the implications of this volatile mixture of new styles of politics and religious life are examined in the context of evolving issues in the Church,...

  7. PART III: Case Studies in Structure and Style
    • 7 Structure and Style: National Organizations
      (pp. 213-239)

      When looking at the Catholic Church, one must go beyond the bounds of the ecclesiastical institution and its clerical personnel to include the broad community of believers which makes up the Church’s base and clientele. Although all baptized Catholics are technically members of the Church, an important distinction can be drawn between this minimal membership (and the community it delineates) and more active forms of involvement through participation in specifically Catholic or Church-related organizations. This chapter explores the changing structure and style of this organized community of the Church, taking the evolution of key Catholic groups and the issues which...

    • 8 Structure and Style: Two Case Studies
      (pp. 240-254)

      In preceding chapters I have insisted that visions of the Church, and their associated concepts of authority, are the primary sources of action and commitment in day-to-day affairs. An in-depth examination of liberation catechisms in Colombia and of youth groups in Venezuela throws considerable light on the way these differences affect action. Much of the operational difference between the concepts and models considered in these pages rests on their different sources of values—the opposite starting points they take in building an orientation in the world. The basic attitudinal (or, more precisely, epistemological) difference at issue here rests on a...

    • 9 Structure and Style: Six Dioceses
      (pp. 255-286)

      This chapter extends our exploration of the sources, parameters, and processes of change to the local level, in selected dioceses of Venezuela and Colombia. Analysis at this level provides a useful check on the validity of inferences drawn from interviews with bishops and from the study of national groups and documents. It is also important in itself, because dioceses are the key structural and administrative units of the Catholic Church. Finally, incorporating data from this level into the overall analysis strengthens the work as a whole, by building in elements of context and situation which closely correspond to those actually...

  8. PART IV: Conclusions
    • 10 Further Reflections
      (pp. 289-316)

      The conclusions this book has to offer are present throughout, woven into the discourse of each succeeding chapter. A formal conclusion thus has little chance of furthering whatever message has not been conveyed already. For these reasons, I take this chapter less as a chance for summary and restatement than as an opportunity to go beyond the findings presented thus far, to confront these data once again with the basic questions shaping the book as a whole.

      On reflection, it is clear that we are dealing with something more general than the interaction of “religion” and “politics” alone: religion and...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-336)
  10. Index
    (pp. 337-342)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 343-343)