The Roman Catholic Church

Uruguay Table of Contents

The Roman Catholic Church has had only a minimal role in Uruguay because of a strong anticlerical bias bequeathed by Batlle y Ordˇ˝ez. Unlike many other Latin American countries, religion has not interfered in politics to any significant extent. Although 66 percent of the population was nominally Roman Catholic in 1990, less than half were practicing Catholics. The church's main political wing was the PDC, which advocated social transformation through democratic means. In addition, there were numerous lay organizations engaged in enhancing the church's social relevance. These included the Catholic Workers' Circle, Catholic Action, the Christian Democratic Youth Movement, and the Catholic Family Movement. The conservatives had few representatives among the clergy.

The election of Lacalle, a devout Catholic, may have reflected ascending Catholic influence in the nation. Another indicator of rising Catholic influence was the establishment in 1984 of the Catholic University of Uruguay in Montevideo, the country's only private university. However, the limits of Catholic influence in Uruguay were highlighted in early 1986 by the failure of a proposal by Catholic conservatives in the Colorado and National parties to ban the film Hail Mary, which the church hierarchy regarded as "pornographic and blasphemous."

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress