The Catholic Church, moral education and citizenship in Latin America
Author: Klaiber, Jeffrey
Source: Journal of Moral Education, Volume 38, Number 4, December 2009 , pp. 407-420(14)
Abstract:The Catholic Church, with deep roots in the history of Latin America, exercises considerable influence on all levels of society. Especially after the Second Vatican Council and the bishops' conference at Medellin (1968) the Church took up the banner of human rights and the cause of the poor. During the dictatorships and in the midst of the different guerrilla movements the Church became the principle voice of opposition and mediator between the parties in conflict. At the same time, the Church helped organise the poor in their own defence. The Base Ecclesial Communities, which spread from Brazil to the rest of Latin America, combined biblical awareness with social consciousness. Paulo Freire's concept of 'conscientisation' complemented the liberation theology movement, which inspired Christians to mobilise against dictatorships and death squads from Central America to Chile. On a formal educational level, the Church runs private schools for the wealthy, the middle class and the poor. In some schools for the wealthy, such as those run by Opus Dei, a pre-Vatican II mindset prevails and emphasis is placed on individual advancement. But in others, especially those run by the Jesuits, solidarity with the poor is emphasised. On the popular level, the Fe y Alegria schools for the poor stress civic participation and commitment to building the local community. The same divisions may be found in Catholic universities: some incorporate the ideals of social responsibility in their programs, but others simply foster an individualism that is more in tune with neo-liberalism.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Peru
Publication date: December 1, 2009