Christian Social And Political Commitment

Many Christians in Latin America switched from being political conservatives to being Christian Democrats. As we mentioned in an earlier chapter, the rise of Christian Democratic Parties was bound up with the overall effort to establish a new Christendom. Such parties were professedly Christian. The problem is that while Christianity can criticize a political system, it can never be identified with anyone political system. Whenlit is, we end up with some version of Christendom and all the...

Church History And Cultural History

The difficulty we face in trying to expound a history of the Church in Latin America derives from the fact that there is no written history of Latin American culture. In his book, America en la historia (America in History), Leopoldo Zea notes that we are constantly trying to find out what is native to America but in the process we discover that America is outside history. If we examine the great expositions of the history of world culture, we find that Latin America is not given adequate...

The Worldwide Crisis Of Christian Cul Tures

The Russian version of Byzantine Christendom received a fatal blow in 1917. The rest of Europe had begun a process of secularization several centuries earlier. This secularization process gradually turned into secularism. What started out as a process to give proper autonomy to the temporal sphere became an anti-Christian philosophy. Many men of the Church had been spending their time defending Christendom as a culture rather than Christianity as a religion. They defended the cultural influence...

Info

The fact that the Churches of Latin America were hardly new compared to those in Africa and elsewhere did not register with some people-including the Church historian, Johannes Dollinger. At Vatican II, the Latin American presence was much more substantial, even though it might well have been even greater in proportionate terms. Over six hundred Latin American bishops were present at the Council i.e., 22 percent of the total. But the Catholic population of Latin...

And The A Ttitude Of The Laity

In this section and the next one I want to say something about the attitude of the laity towards events which have aken place in the last few years. Before I mention the whole question of Christian commitment in'the field of politics and social issues, however, I want to mention the matter of basic communities or grass-roots communities comunidades de base and people's varying attitudes towards them. These basic communities are an invention of the Latin American Church. In reality they derive...

Church History Becomes Merely Profane History

Christian culture as a whole came to lose touch with reality more and more and at the same time, paradoxical as it may seem, its history became more and more identical with profane history. This is because it could not help but be profane history insofar as it ceased to be sacred history. The process of secularization began as far back as the eleventh or twelfth century after Christ, in the dispute over investiture. It gradually gave rise to written history that was profane in nature and that...

Appendix

A Latin American People in the United States More than 25 percent of the Catholics in the United States are Spanish-speaking. Besides the more than 15 million chicanos, or Mexican Americans, there are other latinos from nearly all the Latin American countries, especially Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Demographic projections based on birth rate and immigration indicate that by the year 2000, 50 percent of U.S. Catholics will be of Latin American origin. Since the Second World...

Major Stages Of World And Church History

Here I should like to situate the history of the Latin American Church in a broader context, so that we may be able to get a clearer glim pse of our place as Latin Americans in world history. One of the weak points in our cultural life is that we do not realize the extent to which we are absent from this history. Hence we do not really know what role we might possibly play within it, and what it means to be Latin American Christians in the context of world history. I shall allude to many...

Political Conditioning

We must also consider the conditioning influence of political factors, for it is an importantone. To be part of a social class is to enjoy the fruits of its culture and the benefits of its power. Let me give a little example of that fact. When a clergyman has to go down to a municipal office for some reason, he is often invited to leave the long line of people waiting for service and to come right to the front. He readily avails himself of the offer, pretending that it is a mark of respect for...

And Hispanic Christendom

In the fourth century A.D., there were distinct geo-cultural spheres in Christendom. Byzantine Christendom had its focal point in the city of Constantinople, the chief city of Christendom. Constantinople carne into being as a Christian city and faded out as a Christian city-struggling to the very end to preserve Christian culture as a unity. Constan-tine founded it in 330 A.D .with the aim of making it the seat of a new empire, allying himself to the Christian majority living in Anatolia. As a...

Higher Cultures Of The Preinca Area

PAE.MAid tA CA MfliTHL- Fl'.u-fU 13 t AiifftVTAUjtB - i'l-fCC the eyes of the common folk he was a remote and incomprehensible god. That is why we find so few temples dedicated to this god. Most of them gave way to all sorts of idolatry as the familiar processes of fusion and substitution took place. There is a tendency for the sacred to undergo a gradual fall into the concrete. Various divinities become more dynamic, accessible, and concretely effective. A process of specialization takes...

Notes

Mircea Eliade, Patterns in CompaTative Religion, Eng. Trans. (New York Sheed & Ward, 1958), pp. 345-56. 2. See my bookEI humanismo hel nico (Buenos Aires Eudeba, 1975). 3. See my book El humanismo semita (Buenos Aires Eudeba, 1969), 4. Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolilm of Evil, Eng. Trans. (New York Harper & Row, 1967). See Part 11, Chapter 3, for example. 5. Paul Ricoeur, FTeud and Philosophy An Essay on InterpTetation, Eng. Trans. (New Haven Yale University Press, 1970). 6. For some...

The Semites

There was another view of man, however. It was found in the third cultural world that I wish to discuss here-the cultural world of the Semites. The cultural outlook of the Semites was radically different from that of the Indo-Europeans. Hence their ethos and their way of using the things of this world were radically different also. I hope to show that the interplay of these two different views forms the backdrop for our own history as Latin Americans. The starting point for our culture does not...

The Church Confronts Socialism In Cuba

I want to consider briefly the situation of the Church in Cuba since Castro's forces entered Havana on January 8, 1959. Initial relations between Castro and the Church were very cordial, but estrangement soon set in. By February of 1960 Castro was saying that anyone opposed to communism was also opposed to the revolution. The Church began to take a stance openly against the government, and this trend culminated in a statement by the Cupan episcopate on August 7, 1960 Let no one ask us Gatholics...

Lack Of Roots And Aliena Tion

When a nation or a people is not familiar with the evolution of its community, when it does not know how it fits into the history that goes back to the beginnings of Christianity, then its theologizing is unreal. Theologians will only alienate those who study under them, propounding notions that are current in Japan or Europe or North America but that don't work here. Once we realize that these notions do not work here, we turn to sociology. We will do religious sociology, we say to ourselves....

Conclusion

To conclude this discussion, I should like to allude to a Gospel text When these things begin to happen, stand erect and hold your heads high, your deliverance is near at hand (Luke 21 28). The words stand erect here are associated with the Hebrew words talita kumi, which Jesus used when raising the daughter of J airus to life again. Thus to stand erect is to come back to life again, and that is what we must do today. Weighed down by suffering, oppression, and pessimism, we must come back to...

Of A Christian Option

First of all, in my opinion, these concrete options must be made within the framework of a grass-roots community which is sincerely and authentically alive. Some sort of basic community, it seems to me, is an absolute necessity. Lay people probably ought to create communities of married couples on the grass-roots level, not to form litde cliques for themselves but to serve each other and people around them. Priests and religious probably should form grass-roots communities of their own, suited...

Neolithic Culture

The first period of man's cultural life is known as the paleolithic. It is the vast expanse of time when man shaped stone into rough but useful tools. Leaving aside that period, we can say that there have been three basic cultural stages in world history which will help us to appreciate the place and situation of Latin America within that history. The first stage is the neolithic period and the rise of the first great civilizations. The second stage is the invasion of the Indo-European cultural...

Christendom As A System

As time went on, Christianity turned into a political force. Thanks to Constantine, the Church persecuted became the Church triumphant. Constantine liberated the Church, possibly for political reasons. As a result the Church carne to constitute what is referred to in theology as Christendom. The distinction between Christianity and Christendom is an important one. Christianity is the Christian religion. Christendom is a cultural reality. The former is a religion, the latter is a cultural...

Higher Cultures If The Mayanaztec Area

This culture, and the mentality of the mercenary or the soldier of fortune. It was these people who held sway over the sedentary groups and effected a certain measure of symbiosis by syncretizing various elements, without achieving the degree of unity visible in the cultures of Eurasia or Africa. Uranic and chthonic elements were syncretized by hunting peoples who were gradually changing their way of ife and settling down as agriculturalists. The short duration of the Aztec empire enables us to...

The Social Struggle And The Martyr Bishops

Here I should like to mention a figure who stadds out in my mind. The Christian, the saint, is a martyr. There is nothing better one can do than give one's life for the poor. Bishop Antonio de Valdivieso of Nicaragua, was undoubtedly a martyr in the colonial era. He was the Bishop of Central America, a contemporary of Bartolom de Las Casas and several other great bishops. As the documents from that period will tell you, the Indians of that region were being exploited terribly. Valdivieso took...

Awareness of History

The Greek devalued history because he devalued the concrete realm, seeing that it could not be reduced to some universal formula. The Hebrew restored value to history and, in fact, discovered history and its value. This is what Hegel suggests when he says that self-awareness begins in world history with Abraham. And this is what Mircea Eliade suggests near the end of his fme book, The Myth of theEternal Return6 The Semite, and the Hebrew in particular, made history the horizon of his existence....

The First Prophets In La Tin America

Before I discuss the various periods of Chur ch history in Latin America. I should like to mention sever al important figures in our early Church history. We too li ve had our prophets, and the first great figure in that ttadition was the Dominican Antonio de Montesinos. On the third Sunday of Advent in 1511 he cited the prophetic texts of Isaiah and John the Baptist to launch an attack on the way the native Indians were being treated by the Spaniards in the encomiendas. The Spaniards' behavior...

Christian Persecution In The Roman Empire

There are two main phases in the second great period of Church history which I have outlined above. The first is the era of persecution, and it runs from about 50 A.D. to 313-314 A.D. During this phase Christians stood outside the established order, and the martyrs fearlessly faced that fact. The martyrs were killed in the arena as atheists. We may feel that the Romans were ignorant indeed to kill Christians on such grounds. But if we are to appreciate the why and wherefore of their martyrdom,...

Towards A Latin American Theology

A Latin American theology can appear on the scene only after we have tried to comprehend our day-to-day life in history. This would include our economic, political, and cultural life. It is from this that theology arises. Europeans have always been formulating a European theology, a theology which takes everyday life in Europe as its starting point. We Latin Americans have merely aped that theology, alienating ourselves in the process. Only recently have we turned our attention back to our own...

The Seventeenth Century In Hispanoamerica

It is the start of the colonial period as we tend to envision it today. The boundaries between the native Indians and the immigrant Spaniards began to harden. Missionaries stopped speaking to the Indians in their native Indian tongues as royal decrees forced the Indians to learn Spanish. Those who had been converted to Christianity in the sixteenth century remained Christian. Those who hadnot yet been converted to Christianity tended now to retreat to the...

The Phenomenon Of Christianity

Christians appeared on the scene during the third Semitic stage of world cultural history , and they evangelized the Roman empire. Islam, too, is a Semitic phenomenon which spread far and wide. This Semitic history of Europe has been extended down to the age of secularization. In a secularized form it has to be extended even to China, which eventually was won over to a way ofthinking that is ontolog-ically Semitic to a certain extent i.e., Marxism. Thus only one group remains Indo-European...

History And The Theology Of Liberation

Human beings had not committed sin, they would share everything with each other and live in a state of justice-without private property. Basil was a monk, and the monks lived a life in common as opposed to the system of private ownership that prevailed in civilized towns and cities. According to Thomas Aquinas, private property is a jus gentium, not a natural right. The notion of the right of peoples or nations is discussed by a scholastic professor of Salamanca, the late Santiago Ramirez. He...

Colonial Christendom In Latin America

Now we come to our own version of Christian culture. For our purposes here we may consider it still another version of Christendom. It is the Christendom of the Indies of which Toribio de Mogrovejo spoke in his letters around the start of the Third Council of Lima in 1582-83. And our version of Christendom, unlike that of the Byzantine empire and that of the Roman em pire, has been a colonial one . We have been on the periphery, while the previous versions of Christendom have been in the...

Or Prefabricated Formulas

Pastoral activity in Latin America cannot rely on recipes or prefabricated formulas. We must work out feasible solutions as we go along. This means that we must learn how to interpret real everyday life. Theology, then, has an important role to play. Once upon a time our priests went to Europe to get doctorates in Canon Law it was the sure road to the episcopacy. More recently the emphasis has been on the social sciences sociology, economics, political science. Today we are rediscovering the...

The Reality Of Violence In La Tin America

The physiognomy of events is different to some extent in every country of Latin America, but we cannot explore every country here. So let us try to examine the problem of violence in terms of a couple of countries. Colombia is a country in which violence has reigned since the first days of Spanish conquest. The conquistadores slaughtered Indians in wholesale fashion as they went about looking for gold. One bishop noted that the lndians had come to assume that gold was the god of the Spaniard,...

The Indoeuropeans

A second cultural stage occurred when a series of invasions from the north swept over the Eurasian continent during the second millenium before Christ. Gradually the existing original cultures were submerged totally under alien domination. These aliens were the Indo-Europeans.2 Around 4000 B.C. the Indo-Europeans lived somewhere north of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. Their original homeland was the Eurasian steppe area. The first to domesticate the horse, they were skillful riders and...

The Attitude Of Bishops And Priests

The Chilean episcopate provided the model for Latin America in the decades which preceded Vatican II. Since Vatican II, it is the Brazilian episcopate that has pointed out the road for us. They have found themselves at a very difficult crossroad, and many of them have played an important role. Among them, of course, stands Dom Helder Camara. His life has been most interesting. He is the son of a public school teacher, and hence he grew up in an educa-ional atmosphere. He was ordained at the age...