The Politics of Religion in an Age of Revival: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America

By Wyatt, Loretta Sharon | The Catholic Historical Review, October 2001 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Religion in an Age of Revival: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America


Wyatt, Loretta Sharon, The Catholic Historical Review


The Politics of Religion in an Age of Revival: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Europe and Latin America. Edited by Austen Ivereigh. [NineteenthCentury Latin American Series, No. 5.] (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Available through the Institute of Latin American Studies, 31 Tavistock Square, London WC 1H 9HA. 2000. Pp. viii, 223. 12.00 or $19.95 paperback.)

The Institute of Latin American Studies promotes closer investigation into what it feels is a neglected period in Latin American Studies, the nineteenth century. The focus in this collection of essays from a symposium presented by the Institute is on the Church/State conflict and does indeed suggest that much work remains to be done on this important subject. Dynamic leadership and bold initiatives experienced by the Catholic Church in its Revival made Catholics determined to play a prominent role in the development of their respective countries. This was not viewed benignly by secular-minded liberals. The standard interpretation of the ensuing conflict is derived from the republican position: liberalism advanced all that was positive and desirable, religion was a hindrance. Such is far from the whole truth.

Margaret Lavinia Anderson lucidly describes important characteristics of the Revival in Europe, beginning with the vigorous assertion of papal authority. Other elements including schools, associations, and Catholic participation in politics are described as "the divisions of the pope. " James E McMillan cogently argues that in France republicans precipitated the quarrel with their anticlerical measures to circumscribe the role of religion in national life, then were infuriated by the Catholic opposition liberals termed "clericalism," meaning "illicit interference on the part of the clergy in the sphere of politics and public life.'

Religion and French political philosophy both constituted major influences in Latin America. However, Eric Van Young illustrates how indifferent or ignorant of the true desires of the masses their purported leaders were during the struggle for independence in Mexico and later. Indians were motivated by traditional and spiritual attitudes which may be traced back to pre-Columbian origins, not the French Revolution. (Still, it is curious that there is no discussion of the influence of the sixteenth-century missionaries and their millenarian ideals in the evolution of the Indian concept of a messiah-king. …

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