The Rise of Charismatic Catholicism in Latin America

Edward L. Cleary

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"Latin America in the twenty-first century is no longer the way we have always imagined it, and nowhere are the region’s vast changes more evident than in the field of religion. Ed Cleary brings his readers into the churches and communities of Latin America to introduce them to the Catholic Charismatic Movement, the biggest and most important religious shift taking place in the region in recent decades."--Kenneth P. Serbin, University of San Diego

Much has been made of the dramatic rise of Protestantism in Latin America. Many view this as a sign that Catholicism’s primacy in the region is at last beginning to wane. Overlooked by journalists and scholars has been the parallel growth of Charismatic, or Pentecostal, Catholicism in the region. Edward Cleary offers the first comprehensive treatment of this movement, revealing its importance to the Catholic Church as well as the people of Latin America.

Catholic Charismatics have grown worldwide to several hundred million, among whom Latin Americans number approximately 73 million participants. These individuals are helping the church become more extroverted by drawing many into evangelizing and mission work. The movement has rapidly acquired an indigenous Latin American character and is now returning to the United States through migration and is affecting Catholicism in the United States.

Cleary has witnessed firsthand the birth and maturing of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Latin America as both a social scientist and a Dominican missionary. Drawing upon important findings of Latin American scholars and researchers, he explores and analyzes the origins of the most important Catholic movement in Latin America and its notable expansion to all countries of the region, bringing with it unusual vitality and notable controversy about its practices.

Edward L. Cleary, professor of political science and director of the Latin American studies program at Providence College and visiting scholar at Stanford University, has authored or edited eleven books, most recently Conversion of a Continent: Religious Change in Latin America.

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"Presents an impressive overview of the 'other' charismatic revival that is transforming Latin American churches." Religion Watch

"Research on religions in Latin America in the last forty years has shifted focus from liberation theology to ecclesial base communities to Pentecostal Protestantism to popular and indigenous religions. It is the first time in over five hundred years that Latin American Catholicism is becoming throroughly indigenized in its clerical and lay leadership roles and is able to grow not through cultural family traditions and foreign missionary activity but by stimulating voluntary and strong lay commitments among its own faithful. Cleary has clearly proven to be one of the most prolific and astute observers of religions in Latin America over the past half-century." Journal of Church and State

"An important overview of a much neglected story, that of the CCR in Latin America" Catholic Books Review

"An abundance of footnotes and a solid bibliography lends the readable book for students and teachers of Latin American studies, missionary movements, and Catholicism among Hispanics in Latin America as well as the United States." Missiology

"Attentive to questions of identity as they pertain to nationality and religion, allowing readers to glimpse the importance of Charismatic movements as they reinforce, challenge or remain separate of political orders." The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

“An excellent introduction to the Charismatic renewal in Latin America and a much-needed corrective to deceptions of the Catholic Church as a monolithic entity unable to respond to the challenges of growing religious pluralism.” Latin American Politics and Society

“A rich historical account… this wealth of information will be vital to future scholars of charismatic Catholicism.” Journal of Latin American Studies

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