appointment of bishops. In Peru a conservative church was forced protesting into a pluralist society. Ecuador, often described as a theocracy, was in fact a small clerical state, 'an entirely Catholic nation', in which the state occupied the dominant position.
Perhaps the most important factor in determining church-state relations was the relative power and wealth of the church. Where the church was large, its clergy ubiquitous and its riches obvious, it was more likely to provoke anticlericalism and envy, both political and personal; it was also in a stronger position to defend itself. The ensuing conflict would probably be bitter, and the settlement more decisive, one way or the other. In Mexico, war of this kind (1858-60) took the church from power to persecution. Where the church was poor and weak, as in Venezuela, it did not provoke overt hostility, but nor could it defend itself, and gradually, without dramatic conflict, it would find its privileges eroded. In some cases there was a balance of power. And in Colombia, where from the 1880s an educated clergy tightened its grip on levers of power in local government, education and the press, the church gave valuable support to government and earned exceptional privileges.
In the period 1870-1914 the church in most of Latin America ceased to rely on legal and political sanctions for the promotion and protection of religion. Catholics did not at first welcome their new status or respond to conditions of independence, pluralism and toleration, but continued to look backwards to a Christian state and collaborating church as the ideals against which to judge the secular trends of the age. Yet they were not fighting innocents. Power could change liberals into monsters of illiberalism, and it was difficult for Catholics to understand decrees that expelled bishops, exiled nuns, confiscated church property, and forbade wearing soutanes in the street and carrying the viaticum to the sick. But gradually adjustment was made and the church exchanged external support for inner renewal.
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