Social History of the Catholic Church in Chile Volume II

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This second volume of A Social History of the Catholic Church in Chile explores the life of the Chilean Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez (1907-1999) who became the most important Chilean ecclesiastical figure of the 20th Century. As archbishop of Santiago he involved the Chilean Church in the changes effected by the Second Vatican Council while playing an active political role within the governments of presidents Jorge Alessandri (1958-1964), Eduardo Frei (1964-1970) and Salvador Allende (1970-1973). During the military period, Cardinal Silva Henríquez became the voice of the persecuted and managed to establish an alternative welfare state that helped the hungry, the unemployed and those who had lost relatives after the military coup. It is clear that in analyzing his life this work provides a church-centered analysis of religion and politics in Chile.


“This volume, eagerly awaited, is the biography of the most prominent ecclesiastical figure of the Chilean and the Latin American Church of the 20th Century. His figure clearly influenced the Chilean social and political scenario during the second half of that century ... The main contribution of this work is the production of a cohesive narrative that articulates and connects many fragmentised ways of looking at the history of the Church and the history of Chile during this period …By using an interdisciplinary approach the author manages to outline Silva Henríquez’ discourse and pastoral action, with intensity and force, throughout historical moments of the Church, e.g. the Second Vatican Council, the governments of the Christian Democrats and the Popular Unity, and during the first period of the dictatorial government of Augusto Pinochet. During the period of the military government Silva Henríquez was the main actor in a process of contestation and dialogue with the military. This book offers a life narrative of a cardinal who embraces risks during the military repression of government opponents and who never hesitated when it came to defend the persecuted, the tortured and the oppressed by the military regime …” – (from the Preface) Professor Dr. Hugo Cancin, Aalborg University, Denmark

“I had the privilege of reading Dr. Aguilar’s work when he approached this Foundation (Fundación Cardenal Raúl Silva Henríquez) in 2003 explaining the motivations for his research on the life of Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez. It was clear that the author had been touched by the work of the cardinal and his social conviviality that resembled that of Jesus of Nazareth, as portrayed in the Gospel. Dr Aguilar’s enthusiasm and energy impressed me and immediately the Foundation gave him important documents and sources for his work ... This work clearly portrays the enormous influence that the cardinal had in Chile and in the Chilean Church ... This book is an extraordinary stimulating academic work that portrays so well the impact of the cardinal in the life of Chile ...” – Professor Reinaldo Sapag Chain, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristian; Executive Director, Fundación Cardenal Raúl Silva Henríquez, Santiago, Chile

“This book is the result of painstaking archival research and an enormous knowledge of recent Chilean history. It demonstrates in fluent and at times gripping prose the difficult and complex situation of the Catholic Church facing the ruthless dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet ... At the same time, it highlights the courageous posture of many individual men and women who under extremely difficult circumstances tried to save what was left of respect for human dignity. The book shows the individual efforts to cope with an extremely complex and dangerous political situation, without losing out of sight the general scope of events. In this way, it presents an eminently humanist vision of this historical period.” – Prof. Dr. Michiel Baud, Director of Latin American Research and Documentation (CEDLA) and Professor of Latin American Studies, University of Amsterdam

Table of Contents

1. Childhood and Education
2. The Years of Priestly Ministry
3. Archbishop of Valparaíso and of Santiago
4. Cardinal of Chile and of the Church
5. Council, Politics and Socialism
6. Community, Political Crisis and University Reform
7. Synod, Socialisms and the Popular Church
8. The Cardinal and Salvador Allende
9. The Cardinal and the Military
Conclusions: The Retired Archbishop
Appendix I: Carta de Clemente Silva a su padre en Chile
Appendix II: Testamento Espiritual del Cardenal Silva Henríquez
Appendix III: Mi sueño de Chile
Writings by Cardinal Silva Henríquez
Written and Oral Communications
Writings about Cardinal Silva Henríquez
Other References

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