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...

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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...

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...

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...

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...

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....

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...