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. © The Author 2010.
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