Valdivieso (1804-78) in Chile, whose family of landowners went back to colonial times. But the majority of the bishops came from the same middle ranks of society that supplied the priests, from traditional Catholic families in Mexico and Peru, from immigrant families in modern Argentina. They made their way in the church through their superior qualifications, moral character and powers of Christian leadership, rather than through social or political interests. Where the state retained an element of patronage, as in Argentina, episcopal appointments tended to be the results of compromise between the government and Rome and to produce a conventional hierarchy unlikely to disturb church or state.

In general Latin American bishops took a cautious and middle way, more prone to compromise than to conflict. But during times of crisis they varied between intransigents and those seeking a consensus with society and the state. The Mexican episcopate contained men like Eulogio Gillow, archbishop of Oaxaca (1887-1922), and Ignacio Montes de Oca, bishop of San Luis Potosí (1884-1921), both from wealthy families, both educated abroad - Gillow in England, Montes de Oca in Rome - and both true princes of the Church. Eduardo Sanchez Camacho, bishop of Tamaulipas, was different. He aroused much indignation among conservative Catholics for his attempt to reconcile the laws of the church and those of liberal reform, and for his opposition to the cult of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was censured by the Roman Inquisition, resigned from his see, and died without the sacraments.

The political thinking of Colombia's bishops was almost entirely conservative and normally alarmed their opponents. Liberal statesmen feared the church, believing that it had great influence over consciences and could divert citizens from their proper obedience to the state. In 1852 thrice-president Tomas Cipriano de Mosquera addressed Pope Pius IX directly, arguing that liberals too were Catholics and that churchmen who intervened in political issues perverted a divine institution in the interests of one political party. The hierarchy, on the other hand, maintained a right of resistance to liberal measures when they attacked the God-given rights of the church. Both sides overstepped the limits of their competence, liberals requiring priests to obtain an official permit to perform religious services (1861), churchmen scattering excommunications like gunshots. In Chile the Catholic liberal politician Federico Errazuriz Zanartu, president of Chile in 1871-5, criticised the clergy as exploiters of the poor, incurring the wrath of Archbishop Valdivieso and other members of the hierarchy; they made it clear that outside the conservative alliance there was no place for a Catholic, only association with liberals and unbelievers. In 1874 the ageing archbishop excommunicated Errazuriz and all those in parliament

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