Democracy in Latin America: Colombia and Venezuela

By Donald L. Herman | Go to book overview

6
Creating Neo-Christendom in Colombia

Alexander W. Wilde

The State, in light of the Traditional Catholic sentiment of the Colombian Nation, considers the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion as a fundamental element of the common good and of the integral development of the national community.

1973 Concordat, Article 1

Colombia confronts in the present moment one of the most acute crises in its history. In addition to profound errors in the political leadership of the State, there is a growing social and economic abyss, with the dislocation of the structures of Colombian society and increasing distance between the classes that compose it. . . . Political structures are inoperative in the realities of the country and neither permit Colombians to participate nor respond to their needs. . . . It is a commonplace in Colombia that democracy is formal and apparent; that election, parties, the parliamentary system have no true popular participation.

The Bishops' Conference, 1978

In Colombia the Catholic Church and oligarchical democracy have survived together. The church was a midwife to the rebirth of the regime in its contemporary form, with the National Front in 1958. 1 In the quarter century since, it has remained a reliable -- and many would say, important -- support of that regime. For its own part the church has, during the same period, retained its distinctive and prominent place in public life. It is widely regarded as the most powerful church in Latin America and enjoys high regard in the Vatican Curia as a model for the region.

The record is remarkable in light of the political and religious upheaval else-

-109-

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