Human Fertility in Latin America: Sociological Perspectives

By J. Mayone Stycos | Go to book overview

7
The Bishops, Politics, and Birth Control

On October 1, 1960, at 5 A.M., the usually tranquil village of Barranquitas, Puerto Rico, was awakened by vociferous chanting from a nearby hill. "Viva Cristo Rey! Viva the Pope! Viva the Most Holy Virgin!" The crowd, huddled against the dark and the early morning chill, was facing a small altar on which a statue of the Virgin stood out against a background of broadleafed tropical foliage. Soon the melancholy rhythm of a thousand toneless voices reciting the Rosary could be heard. What had motivated so many Puerto Ricans, usually apathetic toward their religion, to leave their homes before dawn for public prayer? The mystery was soon dispelled, for a public address system sent the following message ringing from the hilltop: "The objective of the party is to bring Christ to government so that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. His will should be done in government, in the Senate, in the House, in business, in industry, and in labor…. Our social program is based on Catholic social doctrine as expressed by the Popes." What had appeared to be a prayer meeting was in fact a political rally for the newly formed Christian Action Party (PAC) -- a party whose official insignia was the rosary, whose meeting places were often the churches, and whose inspiration sprung from the Roman Catholic creed and clergy.

The emergence of the PAC was astonishing to most Puerto Ricans, for the island brand of Catholicism is generally nominal.

-98-

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