in the Immaculate Conception and allegiance to Rome. But the countryside too was Christianised, and it was here that elements of popular religion survived in prayers, hymns, processions and the cries of Martin Fierro, the voice of the rural underdog: 'vengan santos milagrosos, vengan todos en mi ayuda' ('Come down all you saints with your miracles, come to my aid').2 Rural priests were not highly regarded by the politicians and press of Buenos Aires. Yet the church did not entirely abandon peons and their families. In Fraile Muerto an English observer described the priest as 'an Italian, and not a very clerical character, but pleasant and good natured, and having been educated as a doctor, did all he could for the bodies of his parishioners, and I trust also for their souls . . . During the cholera he exerted himself nobly for the people.'3
Brazil and its clergy had a different religious history from the rest of Latin America in the nineteenth century. Two particular institutions, monarchy and slavery, in both of which the clergy were involved, were inimical to the development of a modern church in an ex-colonial country. The political independence of Brazil brought no independence to the church. The almost absolute power of the Portuguese crown over colonial religion was inherited intact by the independent empire. Pedro II retained full powers of patronage and rights of intervention between Rome and Brazil. He nominated bishops, collected tithes, andpaidthe clergy, who became in effect government servants. 'Political priests' of this kind tended to be hostile to Rome, servants of the elite, and rarely faithful to their vows. During the monarchy (1822-89) there were only about 700 secular priests, products of state-controlled seminaries, to minister to 14 million people. Eventually, the decline and fall of the monarchy gave the church the opportunity to free itself from direct political influence and look to its own renewal. Dioceses were established, seminaries were founded, and a new and more dedicated clergy emerged. Monarchy, however, had not been the only embarrassment. The stain of slavery seeped through the whole of Brazilian society, and few institutions were left unmarked. The Catholic Church was no exception.
While the faithful relied on priests for mass and sacraments, priests depended upon bishops for selection and ordination, and the church depended on them as teachers and administrators. The Latin American episcopate was not entirely homogeneous, either in ideas or in social status. A number of church leaders came from landed elites, as did Archbishop Rafael Valentin
2 José Hernandez, Martin Fierro (Buenos Aires: EUDEBA, 1962), p. 7.
3 Richard Arthur Seymour, Pioneering in the Pampas (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1869), pp. 80-1.
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