Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Rise of Charismatic Catholicism in Latin America

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Rise of Charismatic Catholicism in Latin America

Article excerpt

The Rise of Charismatic Catholicism in Latin America. By Edward L. Cleary. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida. 2011. Pp. xiv, 309- $74.95. ISBN 978-0-813-03608-3.)

This book offers a clear and straightforward assessment of a not very well understood phenomenon: the rise of the Catholic charismatic movement in Latin America since the 1970s. This book shows that charismatic Catholicism has its own unique history and origins, partly as a competitive alternative in the religious marketplace of the late-twentieth century, and partly spurred by lay activism in the Church and vigorous community involvement in the movement itself as well as by exceptional individual leaders such as Father Marcelo Rossi in Brazil. As Edward L. Cleary points out in the introduction, "[t]o the surprise of many observers, the fastest growing movement in the Catholic Church in Latin America is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR)" (p. 1).

Cleary's analysis and account are largely from sociological and political-science perspectives. He draws in this book on several decades of research as one of the major practitioners of religious studies of Latin America as well as his own personal contact and interviews with members and leaders of the CCR. The result is a well-documented, broad survey of a movement with more than 70 million members in Latin America. He shows that Charismatic Catholicism has some general broad defining characteristics: an emphasis on community action, personal spiritual awakening, prayer groups, a dedication to a religious life beyond the simple Mass, Bible study, and spiritual baptism beyond sacramental baptism. In his view, the CCR has been instrumental in revitalizing the Catholic Church in Latin America, which he viewed as insufficiently instructed in basic tenets of the Catholic faith.

Cleary sees the growth of the CCR as largely the result of rational choice, a response to the spectacular growth of the Pentecostal Protestant movement in Latin America. Given the success in bringing former Catholics into the Protestant Pentecostal fold, the CCR had to compete in the open marketplace of ideas for Catholics to remain Catholic and to participate in a revitalized Church, open to lay participation.

Following the introduction come individual chapters on countries where the CCR has been especially successful: Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.