A review of the background and a discussion of the significance of recent changes in organization and in religious and political outlook among Latin American Catholics. The major questions asked are: What is the Church and how is it organized to carry out its several roles? What changes are being sought within the Church so as to encourage modern social development without jeopardizing its institutional authority? This study considers how responses to social change have interacted with each other and with the evolving regional and international environment. Central to new strategies of survival and change is an organizationally and religiously based posture of political independence from the state. Moreover, this independence enables Catholic leaders to avoid identification with the status quo and to exercise the "prophetic mission" by criticizing living conditions and government programs that do not meet the moral criteria of social justice. A discursive bibliography is appended.
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