The Chilean Catholic Church and the social question : changes and continuities in Catholic thought in Chile, 1891-1935
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The goal of this report is to analyze what was going on about Catholic social teaching in Chile between 1891 and 1935, having as milestones the two main Encyclical about the Social Question, Rerum Novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo Anno (1931). This study will explore and analyze the lives and thoughts of four Chilean priests who were deeply concerned with the Social Question: Mariano Casanova (1833-1908), Archbishop of Santiago between 1886 and 1908; Juan Ignacio González (1844-1918), Archbishop of Santiago between 1908 and 1918; Martín Rücker (1867-1935), Bishop of Chillán between 1923 and 1935; and the Jesuit Fernando Vives (1871-1935), who, although he was never appointed to a higher level of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, had a polemical role in public opinion about the Social question that cost him two long exiles. The argument of this report is that between 1891 and 1935 the Chilean Catholic thought about the Social Question had changes and continuities. Among the first, there are the change of the focus of catholic action from charity to justice, or about the role of the State. The permanencies had to do with the traditional concept that the Catholic Church held, despite its efforts for having a more active role in the modern world. The main examples are the paternalistic attitude towards the workers and the consequent rejection of social mobility. The condition of the poor could be improved, but they always, and their children, would belong to the working class. It was a hierarchical vision of a class society. This contradiction, finally, explains why one of the main purposes of the Catholic social teaching did not succeed: stopping the spread of socialism. Even more, although it had an active goal about the Social Question, the Catholic Church could not stop secularization either.