Latin American Seminary Reform: Modernization and the Preservation of the Catholic Church

By Edwards, Lisa M. | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2009 | Go to article overview

Latin American Seminary Reform: Modernization and the Preservation of the Catholic Church


Edwards, Lisa M., The Catholic Historical Review


As secular modernization increasingly affected the Catholic Church's moral and legal influence in Latin America in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, ecclesiastical leaders moved to strengthen the institutional Church. To do so, they found a strategy in the concept of modernization itself, and their efforts focused on the professionalization of the clergy, particularly through seminary reform. The papacy, Latin American bishops, and seminary administrators implemented curricular and disciplinary reforms, particularly from European models, to improve the number and quality of the clergy and thus defend the Church against the rise of liberal secularism, albeit with mixed results.

Keywords: clergy; Latin America; modernization; seminaries; seminary reform

In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the Catholic Church in Latin America was in a state of crisis. According to church leaders, growing secularization in the region, a clergy unprepared to deal with emerging social and political problems, and a shortage of new vocations were leading to institutional decadence and urgently needed to be addressed. They needed to maintain Catholics' loyalty to the institution and protect the Church's moral and legal interests. The ecclesiastical hierarchies in Latin America and Rome believed the solu- tion lay with the clergy. They found the primary causes of the Church's problems could be attributed to the inadequate number of priests in the region and their insufficient preparation. To strengthen the Church in the region, they worked to encourage clerical vocations and embarked upon seminary reforms to improve the quality of the clergy In doing so, they utilized the concept of modernization and professionalized the clergy in the region. This was not unique to Latin America, but part of a larger trend in the Roman Catholic Church during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries that was encouraged by the papacy and followed by church leaders elsewhere in the world, particularly in the United States and Europe. Establishing more rigorous clerical education and discipline was a critical strategy in the Church's defense against the advancement of secular liberalism.

In the decades after Latin American independence the concept of modernization produced, first, an institutional crisis for the Catholic Church and, second, an institutional response to the same crisis. The crisis involved the general secularization of Latin American society encouraged by the policies of liberals who attacked the traditional privileges enjoyed by the Church since the colonial period.1 Liberals accused the Church of thwarting society's progress and of being stagnant and decadent. They were often vague in defining "progress," but generally believed that their goals could be reached by adopting European habits and education. They also believed that achieving progress and leading their nations to modernity required relegating the Church to a purely spiritual and moral role. Working to make the people's relationship with the Church optional, liberal politicians established secular educational systems; civil registers for recording births, marriages, and deaths; and civil cemeteries to bury those not in communion with the Catholic Church at their deaths. As part of their attempts to secularize education, liberal governments often prohibited religious education, including clerical seminaries, and expropriated seminary buildings. Even where seminaries were not closed, the financial status of the Catholic Church, now rarely supported by national governments as it had been during the colonial period, made their operation practically impossible in many areas. Many seminaries only reopened decades later, in the mid- to late-nineteenth century2 By the early-twentieth century, socialism and communism had become significant threats to the survival of the Catholic Church as well, not only because they agreed with the liberal critique but also because they were directly associated with atheism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Latin American Seminary Reform: Modernization and the Preservation of the Catholic Church
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.