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The Brazilian Popular Church and the Crisis of Modernity
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  • Page extent: 320 pages
  • Size: 216 x 138 mm
  • Weight: 0.56 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 282/.81/09045
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: BX1467.2 .V37 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Catholic Church--Brazil--History--20th century
    • Brazil--Church history--20th century
    • Liberation theology--History

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521585088 | ISBN-10: 0521585082)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published January 1998

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$129.00 (C)

This study explores one of the most dramatic contemporary interactions between religion and politics: the development of progressive Catholicism in Latin America. From the late 1960s this religious movement sought to transform the church and society. In the 1980s, however, the popular appeal of liberation theology was threatened. Focusing on a Brazilian community, Manuel Vásquez' incisive book examines the fate of progressive Catholicism amid changes in the Vatican and in the economy, and a wider crisis of modernity and humanistic thought.


Preface; Introduction; Part I. Background to the Crisis: 1. The popular Church's utopian project: ideological and theological bases; 2. The consolidation of the Igreja Popular and its impact on Brazilian society; Part II. The Nature of the Crisis: 3. The internal dimension: a crisis of participation; 4. The external dimension: the growth of popular Pentecostalism; Part III. Explaining the Crisis: 5. Intra-Institutional Explanations; 6. The crisis in local perspective: a Brazilian base community; 7. Brazilian capitalism since the 1980s: redefining the limits of the possible; Part IV. Reinterpreting the Crisis: 8. The popular church and the crisis of modernity; 9. Rethinking the Popular Church's project: lessons for this-worldly religious utopias; Conclusion; references.

Prize Winner

the Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the Analytical-Descriptive Studies category of the AAR


"This is a significant contribution to the study of the Brazilian Roman Catholic Church which not only provides a rich analysis, but also an illustrative example of an approach which seeks to relate the case study wider theoretical issues.... This work offers a concise definition of the modernist utopian project, a clear and brisk survey of the `popular church's' ideological...and theological bases on the socialist version of the Western modernist utopia, all skillfully set in the context of the institutional Church and the related internal and external ecclesiastical pressures on the national and international levels. This careful and provocative work is a worthy addition to the Cambridge Studies in Ideology and Religion. It fills a lacuna in scholarly work on the Brazilian church...." Iain S. Maclean, H-Net Reviews

"What Vásquez has to say offers a good guide to a rethinking of liberation theology." Books & Culture

"Vásquez's excellent work...pays close attention to the larger context: theological and ideological, political and economic. he thoughtfully and powerfully engages the vast literature of the basse community movement. His nuanced study attends to the various internal and external factors that have contributed to the decline of the popular church. He succeeds in demonstrating the overwhelming capacity of late capitalism, especially as it is manifested in Brazil, to obstruct and challenge utopian, emancipatory projects." Koinonia

"Throughout this work the author clearly articulates his thoretical and methodological presuppositions...this is a well-written, valuable study." Dana Sawchuk, Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

"This is a useful and important project, and the author's consistent attention to it helps him to identify the ways in which local social action can satisfy needs, and resituate individuals in the context in which they live." Church History

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