Journal Article

In Word and Deed: Assessing the Strength of Progressive Catholicism in Latin America, 1960–1970s<sup>*</sup>

Robert Sean Mackin

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 71, issue 2, pages 216-242
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
In Word and Deed: Assessing the Strength of Progressive Catholicism in Latin America, 1960–1970s*

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Despite the abundant research on liberation theology and religious change in Latin America, there is little agreement regarding how to assess the political orientation of national churches. This paper reviews previous strategies and proposes that any new approach should do three things. First, the strength of liberation theology should be assessed holistically, that is, by focusing on the official statements and organizational practices of bishops, priests, nuns, and laity. Second, liberation theology should be approached as a “family resemblance concept” and not a “classic concept.” Third, while most scholars identify national churches in nominal terms, I argue liberation theology varies along a continuum, from strong to weak and that its strength varies over time. The cases of Chile, Mexico, and Colombia are presented. The paper closes with a call for future research.

Keywords: Catholicism; Latin America; Liberation Theology; family resemblance concepts; complex organizations

Journal Article.  11686 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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