Saint John, committed to the eucharistic devotion, had enlisted 2 million.34 These membership figures show that the church was successful in recasting its devotional arsenal towards personal acts of piety, which reflected the individualist orientation of liberal society. This devotional resurgence may have establishedthe church's influence amongthose already committedto the faith. There are few indications that it made headway against the religious indifference prevailing in the southern estate lands or among workers in industrial towns. According to a Portuguese observer in 1906: 'excepting some regions of the north, where the people conserve the custom of daily mass ... in the rest of the country churches are nearly empty'.35 In one town of the Alentejo with 11,000 inhabitants, he noted, scarcely anyone attended Sunday mass, a situation that in his judgement also prevailed in Lisbon.
The need to reach out to the religiously alienated gradually and fitfully moved the church into the realm of social action. The 'social questions' began to attract the attention of some clerics and laymen during the 1870s. Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, stimulated further interest and encouraged the creation of workers' associations. These took the form of Workers' Circles following the model of Count Albert de Mun in France. In Spain by the early twentieth century, the circles numbered 257, with a membership of 180,000; in Portugal by 1910, they numbered twenty-five, with a membership of 10,000.36 But membership comprised only a small minority of industrial workers. Moreover, their 'mixed' character as joint associations of workers and employers left them open to the charge that they were little more than tools of capitalism. Later, 'pure' Catholic labour syndicates emerged, although they proved only marginally more successful. In Spain after 1906, Catholic agricultural syndicates began to appear. They enjoyed some success as credit institutions and defenders of local agricultural interests, although they were concentrated in peasant regions where the church retained considerable influence. There were other aspects to the 'Catholic revival'. In Spain and Portugal, Catholic Congresses including clergy and laity met periodically from the 1880s to discuss issues judged vital to the church. A moderately effective Catholic press emerged, although it never matched the circulation of its secular counterpart. In Spain, Catholic leagues were
34 Jiménez Duque, La espiritualidad en el siglo XIX español, pp. 146-60; Neto, O Estado, algreja, pp. 463, 486.
36 Andrés Gallego, PensamientoyaccionsocialdelalgUsiaenEspana, pp. 203-6; Neto, OEstado, algreja, pp. 444-5.
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