Religión, desarrollo y justicia social: las contribuciones latinoamericanas / Religion, development and social justice: the Latin American contributions

Aviso conferencia. Noruega – NorLARNet: Universidad de Oslo, Helga Engs hus, Blindern. 19 de abril 2012

With Enrique Dussel (Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM), Mexico), Fortunato Mallimaci  (University of Buenos Aires) and Sturla Stålsett (University of Glasgow).
The aim of this seminar is to give an insight into the main Latin American intellectual contributions to the current debate about the role of religion in development, and to discuss historical and contemporary experiences shedding light on different aspects of it.

In spite of deep transformations inside and outside the traditionally dominant Catholic Church, Christian congregations of different kinds in Latin America continue to exert moral authority, be a main locus for social belonging and participation, and provider of ethical principles. Religious leaders also have important positions in societies at the local, national and international levels. However, the church and religious leaders have played partly contradictory roles. Whereas the Catholic Church overall has been closely linked to governmental power apparatuses in Latin America, it is also from within the Catholic Church and circles strongly associated with it, that the most powerful intellectual justification for linking the Christian gospel closely to social justice has come. And there are numerous examples from across Latin America of catholic voices being at the forefront in work on peace, solidarity and social justice.

From colonial times, different indigenous belief systems have existed side by side with Catholicism and mixed with it in different forms of syncretism. For the last 30 years, Protestantism has become influential, and some charismatic movements are gaining ground both within catholic and protestant churches. While some have become instrumental politically, they have generally been more individualist and had less focus on political mobilization.

The Latin American reality, both historically and contemporarily, is crucial in order to understand the reaction from progressive religious-based actors and movements. Poverty with its roots in the glaring inequality of the region, and the immense suffering it brings about have resulted in a serious quest for explanations and analysis, as well as the presentations of concrete alternatives.

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