In the post-World War II era, the globe was polarized by two idealistically divergent superpowers; the United States and the Soviet Union, two nations that strived to promote capitalism and communism, respectively, throughout the globe. Nowhere was this struggle more apparent than in developing countries with shaky political and economic backbones. Specifically, in Latin America the old, corrupt and often totalitarian regimes were threatened by grassroots liberation movements whose ideas of land reform and shaking up the status quo were often perceived as Marxism. The Catholic Church, which had traditionally supported the wealthy ruling class, began to change its beliefs in the late 1960s and slowly increased its support for the oppressed working class. This trend gained momentum in the 1970s and 80s and became known as Liberation Theology. Although not officially supported and often chastised by the Vatican, Liberation Theology became prevalent throughout Latin America and violent revolutions sprang up in Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Mexico, sometimes with the tacit blessing of important religious leaders. By the early 1990s, however, this aggressive brand of Liberation Theology and the political uprisings that often went hand in hand were more or less dead. Pope John Paul II had condemned the use of the pulpit for political purposes and many of the more virulent religious leaders had been forcibly removed by the Vatican from their respective posts.
Today, the Catholic Church appears to be ambivalent towards the current political and economic situation in Latin America. While Pope John Paul II condemns what he has referred to as “savage capitalism” in t...
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Erdozaín, Plácido. Archbishop Romero, Martyr of Salvador. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1981.
Rhodes, Ron. “Christian Revolution in Latin America: The Changing Face of Liberation Theology. http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Liberation.html
Sobrino, Jon. Monseñor Romero. San Salvador: UCA Editores, 1989.
Tamayo, Juan O. “Church Revisits Option for the Poor,” in The Miami Herald, January 21, 1999. http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~delacova/theo/revisits.htm
Tombs, David. Latin American Liberation Theology. Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers, Inc., 2002.
Woodward, Kenneth L. Making Saints : How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't, and Why. New York, NY : Simon & Schuster, 1996.
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