In March, the Catholic University of America Press will release “Local Church, Global Church: Catholic Activism in Latin America from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II,” edited by Stephen J.C. Andes (Louisiana State University) and Julia G. Young (Catholic University of America). The publisher’s description follows:
This important volume investigates the many forms of Catholic activism in Latin America between the 1890s and 1962 (from the publication of the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum to the years just prior to the Second Vatican Council). It argues that this period saw a variety of lay and clerical responses to the social changes wrought by industrialization, political upheavals and mass movements, and increasing secularization. Spurred by these local developments as well as by initiatives from the Vatican, and galvanized by national projects of secular state-building, Catholic activists across Latin America developed new ways of organizing in order to effect social and political change within their communities.
Additionally, Catholic responses to the nation-state during this period, as well as producing profound social foment within local and national communities, gave rise to a multitude of transnational movements that connected Latin American actors to counterparts in North America and Europe. The Catholic Church presents a particularly cohesive example of a transnational religious network. In this framework, Catholic organizations at the local, national, and transnational level were linked via pastoral initiatives to the papacy, while maintaining autonomy at the local level.
In studies of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Catholic renewal in Europe and the Americas, scholars have rarely given ample analysis of the translocal and transnational interconnections within the Catholic Church, which became critical to the energy, plurality, and endurance of Latin American Catholic activism leading up to, and moving through, the Second Vatican Council. By studying Latin America as a whole, Local Church, Global Church examines a larger degree of transnational and translocal complexity, and its investigative lens spans regional, hemispheric, transatlantic, and international borders. Furthermore, it sheds new light on the complex and multifarious forms of Catholic activism, introducing a fascinating cast of actors from lay organizations, missionary groups, devotional societies, and student activists.