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blog no. 21: Catholic Church in Brazil

Something that uniquely defines the formation of the Brazilian non profit sector is the Catholic Church and its history of repressive military regimes. A stronghold for civil society influence in Brazil has been the Catholic Church. Early on the Catholic Church operated in conjunction with the government as it looked out for lower class citizens by providing necessities like food an shelter. Later in the late 19th century there would be a separation of church and state. At this point the Catholic Church really became involved in civil society as a means to generate influence with the Brazilian society. Things like hospitals, hostels and holy house were a way to encourage philanthropy and the word of the lord simultaneously. Throughout Brazilian history the Catholic Church would remain the main proprietor of civil society. During the 1960’s when military governments began to repress trade and labor unions that were set up to protect wages and workers the church stood up to protect the people. At this time the military government instituted nationwide social security and used paternalistic policies do lessen the power of private institution interests, like unions. The history of the civil society in Brazil has been very turbulent considering the repressive governments that have taken power during the 20th century. I found it interesting that the Catholic Church used this situation to their advantage, killing two birds with one stone in essence. They could fulfill their altruistic obligations from the bible by helping the less fortunate and spread the word of the lord at the same time.

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One Response to “blog no. 21: Catholic Church in Brazil”

  1. I saw this in my readings of Brazil as well. You gotta love how “clever” the Catholic church came to be there. Just as you said, they helped people (aka “Non-profit”) and spread the message. As Brazil has pretty prominent Catholic roots, you know the church has to play a pretty important role in their society. It will be interesting to see what others think.


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