Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Reclaiming Church Wealth: The Recovery of Church Property after Expropriation in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, 1860-1911

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Reclaiming Church Wealth: The Recovery of Church Property after Expropriation in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, 1860-1911

Article excerpt

Reclaiming Church Wealth: The Recovery of Church Property after Expropriation in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara, 1860-1911. By José Roberto Juárez. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2004. Pp. x, 251. $45.00.)

This study fills a gap in our knowledge and understanding of an important aspect of nineteenth-century Mexican history. The author, professor emeritus of history at the University of Texas, consulted all relevant secondary materials, as well as primary sources both printed and previously unavailable church documents, notably those in the Archiva del Arzobispado de Guadalajara (AAG). The major focus of the work is "the process by which the archdiocese was able to recuperate very conservatively 30% of its [nationalized] wealth between 1860 and 1911, and the nature and use of this income" (p. 2). Juárez also assesses the analyses and conclusions of other scholars who have examined various aspects of the ecclesiastical property issue.

Church authorities strenuously opposed liberal attacks on ecclesiastical property. Excommunication and eternal damnation were promised anyone who participated in the spoliation of the Church. Nevertheless, a massive transfer of real estate and capital occurred following the disamortization of corporate (civil and ecclesiastical) property in 1856 and the nationalization of capital in 1859. Having failed to safeguard its rights and interests through support for conservative governments and Maximilian's empire, the hierarchy decided on "an accommodationist approach" and agreed to "reasonable settlement" terms with those who had acquired church property.

The heart of the study involves "2792 unduplicated cases of settlement" found in the AAG. Juárez's analysis reveals the distribution between urban and rural holdings recovered (Although it held more urban than rural property, the Church recovered 48% of the value of its rural vs. …

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