The Church as a Political Factor in Latin America: With Particular Reference to Colombia and Chile

The Church as a Political Factor in Latin America: With Particular Reference to Colombia and Chile

The Church as a Political Factor in Latin America: With Particular Reference to Colombia and Chile

The Church as a Political Factor in Latin America: With Particular Reference to Colombia and Chile

Excerpt

This study examines the critical impact of the Catholic Church system in Latin America with specific regard to concerted attempts in Colombia and Chile to develop organizational capacity for influence and power. The discussion is concerned with three related issues: first, the interests that link Church policies and activities throughout the American; second, the internal state of Church resources; and third, the over-all impact of the Church on the developmental processes of Latin American nations.

The data assembled led to the following conclusions. First, the Latin American Church is, in effect, an instrument of United States and Western European policy interests: since Church policymakers deem Marxist Communism the one political system that precludes the survival of Catholicism as "church" over and above "sect," the Church system has willingly served as a channel for United States and West European forces of counter- insurgency in Latin America. Second, Church resources are scarce and dwindling: rather than develop greater adaptability, increased structural complexity, heightened system autonomy, and new levels of internal cohesion, the Church system is fragmenting into irreconcilable competing factions in those countries in which the immediate danger of "communist subversion" has subsided. Third, the Church system in Latin America is not only divided but also divisive, not only itself highly dependent on foreign policy interests but also an agent for the spread and legitimation of dependence: its chief effect in the 1960's was to weaken populist movements in Latin America through the creation and sponsoring of grass-roots organizations parallel to and competitive with sectors of the national left.

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