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This chapter reviews Catholic teachings regarding human dignity and how the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) – the official representative of the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines – has interpreted it in several issue areas, including capital punishment, contraception, poverty, and electoral fraud. Catholic doctrine teaches that all people possess intrinsic dignity because they have been created in the image of God (the imago Dei), thereby imposing certain moral principles regarding the treatment of oneself and others, including solidarity, care for the poor, and the sanctity of human life. The Church’s views have taken on distinct local characteristics shaped by high levels of societal poverty, economic inequality, and corruption, as well as the Church’s historically strong political influence. Catholic bishops have harnessed the concept of human dignity to point out dehumanizing practices in Philippine society and call for greater respect for human life. In recent decades, though, the Church’s moral authority has been severely challenged, revealing the limits of its ability to promote Catholic teachings on human dignity.
Scholars often assume that women's exclusion from the modern civil-religious cargo system in Mexico is a colonial legacy. But an analysis of Chiapas's surviving colonial cofradía books, approximately 200 in all, reveals that formalized female religious leadership was widespread in this region during the colonial period. Close to 50 cofradías in over 20 different towns elected female officials. Indigenous cofradías were clearly at the forefront of this practice; however, it also became remarkably popular among ladino, Black, and even Spanish cofradías during the eighteenth century. Not just symbolic figures, female cofradía officers managed finances and cared for the spiritual and physical welfare of fellow members and the community. Their labors often overlapped with the work of town councils to ensure community well-being and survival in the face of extreme economic exploitation, migration, and forced resettlements. These findings challenge the common generalization, based on studies of central Mexico, that women in colonial New Spain were excluded from officeholding and the prestige and authority it provided. By shifting focus beyond central Mexico, this article illustrates the diversity of female experience and the ways in which gender shaped native communities, cross-cultural exchanges, and dynamic adaptations in religious organizational leadership and Church policy.
Chapter 3 pairs the expansion of liberal and religious solutions to working-class problems with increasing labor radicalism in Cuba. In the second decade of the twentieth century, the Catholic church and Cuban government created institutions to help domestic servants and to institutionalize education in domestic sciences for young women. The 1910s were also marked by phenomena that challenged these charity and education-based initiatives: rapidly increasing Caribbean migration to Cuba, growing labor unrest, and the feminist movement. These contradictory trends all found expression in the experiences of and discourse surrounding domestic workers. During the revolutionary upheaval of 1933, domestic workers acted in solidarity with other workers, helping to occupy mills and demanding increased formal attention to their labor. This chapter also considers the politics of the archives and how domestic workers were written out of stories of labor resistance at the very moment such resistance occurred.
International discussions regarding the environment have too narrowly focused on contributions by secular actors. The Catholic Church, recognized for its influential role in the democratization processes of the 1990s, also has a long-standing position regarding climate change, yet remains understudied. How can the Church contribute to the international community's debates regarding the environment and climate change? Using the framework of constructivism and Jurgen Habermas' concept of institutional translation, I argue that the Church is a norm entrepreneur that promotes a foreign policy of human/integral ecology. The most recent articulation of this foreign policy is Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Si’, which was referenced by the Holy See at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in 2021. The Church's participation at COP26 was the latest animation and application of the Church's foreign policy; I examine the Church's efforts to change the narrative on the environment toward a shared, global responsibility.
In recent decades, the use of metaphor in ecclesiology has been broadly critiqued on the ground that metaphors are too abstract and idealized to advance our understanding of the concrete church in history; consequently, ecclesiology has embraced an “empirical turn,” incorporating fields like ethnography and social sciences. In this article, the author argues for a positive function of metaphor in ecclesiology drawing from the work of Janet Martin Soskice. Metaphors link various associative networks of meaning and in doing so open up new imaginative horizons. This theory allows ecclesial metaphors to be examined for their adequacy in light of other empirical or nontheological fields of knowledge. In turn, this invites the theologian to explore other associative networks of meaning such that a metaphor leads to new insights into the nature and mission of the church. The metaphor of the church as the body of Christ serves as a test case.
This paper examines the public relations battles in the US media over Mexico's Unión Nacional Sinarquista (UNS), an explicitly Catholic social movement founded in 1937 that aimed to restore the Church to its traditional role in Mexican society and to reject the reforms of the revolutionary government. The sinarquistas shared many of the features of fascism and Nazism, the major global antidemocratic movements of the time, including a strident nationalism, authoritarian leanings, an emphasis on martial discipline and strict organizational structure, and a militant aesthetic. Both its ideological leanings and rapid growth (as many as 500,000 members by the early 1940s) led many US writers to suggest that the UNS represented a dangerous fifth-column threat to both Mexico and the United States. Others, particularly in the Catholic press, saw the UNS as an anticommunist organization that could actually help foster democracy in Mexico. For their part, UNS leaders defended themselves vociferously and sought to build relationships with influential US Catholics who could advocate for them in the press. By analyzing this debate, this paper both underscores the transnational characteristics of the UNS and highlights the crucial role of US public opinion in Mexican politics during the 1940s.
This article deals with the emergence of the Nazas-Aguanaval group of priests in the northern region of La Laguna, in northern Mexico, after the Second Vatican Council and the 1968 Medellín Conference of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM). I argue that both the reformism of the Second Vatican council and the push for a “preferential option for the poor” provided the space for an alliance between the progressive priests of the Nazas-Aguanaval group and the Maoist activists of Política Popular (People's Politics, PP). In this context, it was the Nazas-Aguanaval priests who introduced Política Popular's Maoism in La Laguna and Chiapas among peasants and students. At the same time, the radical tradition and economic conditions of La Laguna made it possible for local left-wing activists to connect with transnational currents such as the Movement of Priests for the Third World and Christians for Socialism. Based on a broad array of sources—including oral histories, Maoist pamphlets, local newspapers, Mexican security archives, and documentation from Mexican and Latin American priests’ organizations—this article brings together the regional history of protest in La Laguna, the historiography of the Global Sixties, and the history of the progressive factions of the Catholic Church in Latin America.
Chapter 7, “Matters of Faith: Catholic Intelligentsia and the Church,” asks how Catholics behaved in Warsaw and why. Roman Catholicism was the religion of the majority of Varsovians and had played an important role in the development of the Polish national project. In the absence of a Polish government, the Church provided a potential locus of authority for Poles. Warsaw’s priests drew particular negative attention from the Nazi occupation for their potential influence and they were viciously persecuted, imprisoned, and often sent to the concentration camp at Dachau. Nevertheless, leaders of the Church, from the pope in Rome to local bishops, were hesitant to provide guidance, support Nazi occupation, or encourage opposition to it. Despite the lack of a top-down Catholic policy, this chapter argues that individual priests and lay Catholic leaders were motivated by their religious faith to form everything from charities to a postwar clerical state. Crucial among Catholics was the question of the developing Holocaust and the role of Polish Jews in Polish Catholic society, which sharply divided them.
Chapter 2 analyzes the cultural representations of the children born from the interracial encounters discussed in Chapter 1. By interrogating the press and some cultural productions of the period, I question especially the meaning of their representation as alien to the nation or as a “problem,” a term reminiscent of the way race mixing was described in the racist campaign of the fascist period against Jews and other “non-Aryans,” such as the Roma and Sinti. It argues that symbolically these various linguistic and cultural practices tended to exclude these children from the national community, even while stressing a sense of Christian pity for their marginalization and misery.
Chapter 3 focuses on several initiatives undertaken in the first half of the 1950s to assist the mixed-race children, showing the important role played by ecclesiastical actors in this field, and how one of these actors, who operated in close contact with the Christian Democratic government, envisaged a plan to transfer the children to a South American country once they had received an adequate education. The plan was allegedly motivated by a desire to help the children by moving them to countries where they would not stand out due to the color of their skin. In fact, the priest shared widely held prejudices about the “innate character” of the children. In the end, a newly created quasi-state agency was entrusted with supervising the assistance to the mixed-race children, while trying to distance itself from the racialized discourse about them.
Focusing on the experiences and representations of the 'brown babies' born at the end of World War Two from the encounters between Black Allied soldiers and Italian women, this book explores the persistence of racial thinking and racism in post-fascist and postcolonial Italy. Through the use of a large variety of historical sources, including personal testimonies and the cinema, Silvana Patriarca illustrates Italian – and also American – responses to what many considered a 'problem'. She sensitively analyses the perceptions of race/color among different actors, such as state and local authorities, Catholic clerics, filmmakers, geneticists, psychologists, and ordinary people, and her book is rich in detail about their impact on the lives of the children. Uncovering the pervasiveness of anti-Black prejudice in the early democratic republic, as well as the presence and limitations of anti-racist sensibilities, Race in Post-Fascist Italy allows us to better understand Italy's conflicted reaction to its growing diversity.
This chapter underscores the role of liberation theology in promoting social rights. The Second Vatican Council (1962–5) and the Catholic Church’s concern with social inequality and development inspired the liberation theology movement, which took these concerns still further. From the mid-1960s until the end of the century, a small but active and progressive sector of the Mexican Catholic Church engaged with liberation theology and played a significant role in advancing the cause of social, cultural and indigenous rights. Empowering communities at the grassroots level, they helped found lay Catholic organisations and collaborated with networks and institutions to establish new NGOs and social movements that began to assert their social, cultural and indigenous rights. This was the first time that Catholic Church leaders took a radical approach to social inequality and opposed the state. By the 1990s, the influence of liberation theologians in the Church hierarchy was on the wane, but their legacy has persisted in social movements throughout Mexico ever since.
Conventional theories of ethnic politics argue that political entrepreneurs form ethnic parties where there is ethnic diversity. Yet empirical research finds that diversity is a weak predictor for the success of ethnic parties. When does ethnicity become a major element of party competition? Scholars have explained the emergence of an ethnic dimension in party systems as the result of institutions, mass organizations, and elite initiatives. But these factors can evolve in response to an emerging ethnic coalition of voters. The author advances a new theory: ethnic cleavages emerge when voters seek to form a parliamentary opposition to government policies that create grievances along ethnic identities. The theory is tested on rare cases of government policies in Prussia between 1848 and 1874 that aggrieved Catholics but were not based on existing policies or initiated by entrepreneurs to encourage ethnic competition. Using process tracing, case comparisons, and statistical analysis of electoral returns, the author shows that Catholics voted together when aggrieved by policies, regardless of the actions of political entrepreneurs. In contrast, when policies were neutral to Catholics, the Catholic party dissolved.
The German mystic Gertrude the Great of Helfta (c.1256–1301) is a globally venerated saint who is still central to the Sacred Heart Devotion. Her visions were first recorded in Latin, and they inspired generations of readers in processes of creative rewriting. The vernacular copies of these redactions challenge the long-standing idea that translations do not bear the same literary or historical weight as the originals upon which they are based. In this study, Racha Kirakosian argues that manuscript transmission reveals how redactors serve as cultural agents. Examining the late medieval vernacular copies of Gertrude's visions, she demonstrates how redactors recast textual materials, reflected changes in piety, and generated new forms of devotional practices. She also shows how these texts served as a bridge between material culture, in the form of textiles and book illumination, and mysticism. Kirakosian's multi-faceted study is an important contribution to current debates on medieval manuscript culture, authorship, and translation as objects of study in their own right.
Discusses ecology and the role of natural environments in religious discourse, looking specifically at how religious institutions talked about the environment and conceive of it in relation to religious doctrine and belief and practice.
While almost all European democracies from the 1980s started to accord legal recognition to same-sex couples, Italy was, in 2016, the last West European country to adopt a regulation, after a tortuous path. Why was Italy such a latecomer? What kind of barriers were encountered by the legislative process? What were the factors behind the policy change? To answer these questions, this article first discusses current morality policymaking, paying specific attention to the literature dealing with same-sex partnerships. Second, it provides a reconstruction of the Italian policy trajectory, from the entrance of the issue into political debate until the enactment of the civil union law, by considering both partisan and societal actors for and against the legislative initiative. The article argues that the Italian progress towards the regulation of same-sex unions depended on the balance of power between change and blocking coalitions and their degree of congruence during the policymaking process. In 2016 the government formed a broad consensus and the parliament passed a law on civil unions. However, the new law represented only a small departure from the status quo due to the low congruence between actors within the change coalition.
This article analyses two cases of populist mobilisation – namely, one against a primary school entry-age reform and another against WHO sexuality education and the concept of gender – that took place in Poland between 2008 and 2019. Both campaigns had a populist character and were oriented towards restoring social justice taken away from ‘the people’ by a morally corrupted ‘elite’. There are differences between the cases that can be analytically delineated by assessing whether a religious mobilisation has an overt or a covert character. While the series of protests against the school-age reform represents a case of mobilisation with covert religious symbolism, the campaigns against sexuality education and the use of the concept of gender are characterised by overt religious populism. To characterise the dynamics of the two campaigns, the study uses the concept of a moral panic, emphasising the importance of moral entrepreneurs waging ideological war against the government and/or liberal experts conceived of as ‘folk devils’.
For many Christians who had been in the camps, however, such squabbling among survivors missed the real meaning of the camp experience. For Jesuit Father Michel Riquet, a disciple of Jacques Maritain and a Mauthausen survivor himself, the Nazis were not so much fascists or totalitarians as they were latter-day pagans, who like the Egyptian pharaoh of old or the emperors of Rome had inflicted unspeakable cruelties on God’s children. These martyrs deserved memorializing, and Riquet led the fight to create just such a memorial, the Mémorial des martyrs de la Déportation on the Ile de la Cité just behind Notre-Dame Cathedral (where Father Riquet preached Easter sermons). It was inaugurated in 1962.
After reviewing how Sen’s and Nussbaum’s works have incorporated religion in the capability approach through religious narratives and teachings, the chapter furthers this engagement by exploring the contribution of specific religious narratives and teachings to public reasoning and capability expansion. It does so in reference to the Catholic tradition and the global socio-ecological crisis. The chapter is divided into three sections. The first section overviews how religion has been addressed in the capability approach literature. Religion, or relation with a higher source of being, has been considered a relevant dimension of well-being, an important source of agency, and an influence in the formation of people’s values. The second section introduces the relational anthropological dimension of the capability approach. It discusses how the Christian narrative of the parable of The Sower can enhance the universal reach of the capability approach and expand its notion of relationships. The third section highlights the connection between individual choices and social structures, as well as the need for motivational attitudes for transforming and removing injustices. It does so through the religious contribution of the latest social teaching of the Catholic tradition, the papal encyclical Laudato Si’: On the Care of our Common Home.
This chapter reveals the great level of control that local elites accumulated over both local and royal institutions in Santo Domingo, to expand their influence to other parts of the Spanish Caribbean and acquire a profitable network of associates and introduce contraband goods into the city. Rodrigo Pimentel’s political life provides an illuminating example of the particularities of Santo Domingo’s institutional life, but on a larger scale, it also reveals the profound limitations that the Spanish Monarchy’s bureaucratic apparatus had to govern its own Caribbean territories and, by extension, most of its colonial dominions beyond Mexico City and Lima. Under the Habsburg, colonial centers of royal authority, Audiencias and governors often became extensions of the communities that hosted ministers and royal officials, and not anchors of royal power in remote Spanish possessions, as the crown initially intended. In their dealings with high courts, these local groups of power both made and unmade the Spanish empire: they limited the influence of Madrid, but by using royal institutions for their own ends, they shaped the edges of the empire according to their own interests.