Spiritual Affirmation and Empowerment: The Mexican American Cultural Center

Socorro Castañeda-Liles

in Latino Religions and Civic Activism in the United States

Published in print August 2005 | ISBN: 9780195162271
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850365 | DOI:
Spiritual Affirmation and Empowerment: The Mexican American Cultural Center

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This study of Mexican Americans demonstrates that, despite the structural problems of the US Catholic Church, US Latina/o Catholics find empowerment through spiritual affirmation. Latino/a practices of faith and the search for a respected space in the US Catholic Church are transforming this social institution. This chapter presents a sociological analysis of the life histories of Mexican Americans using religion as a theoretical lens. First, it sketches the social movements with ties to the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC). Next, it addresses the reasons behind the founding of the cultural center and discusses women's contributions. Then it explores two ways through which Mexican American Catholics have exercised their voice and agency to claim a religious space in the US Catholic Church from which social change is envisioned. The first of these is through Virgilio Elizondo's Mexican American Catholic theological influence on MACC. In the second section on symbolic capital, Pierre Bourdieu's theories of symbolic and social capital are used to explore three ways that Mexican American Catholicism challenges the exclusionary history of the religious institution.

Keywords: social change; Mexican American Catholics; Catholic Church; spiritual affirmation; social movements

Chapter.  6532 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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