Religious Governance and Influence Making: Bidirectional Communications between the Holy See and the Local Churches of Spanish America

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 4:10 PM
Room 201 (Colorado Convention Center)
Constanza López Lamerain, Max-Planck Institute for European Legal History
This paper deals with the governance model designed by the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and its appliance on a global scale. By the creation of a clear and structured canonical normative and the display of a complex diplomatic structure, the Holy See intended to reach every angle of the Catholic orb with its reform. What has been called the “Tridentine era” brought profound changes to ecclesiastical structures at all levels: from the Papacy and the Roman Curia to the most remote dioceses and parishes.

In the context of overseas expansion of European powers, Catholicism was to be spread throughout the New World with the support of the Catholic monarchies. Catholic monarchs were in fact responsible of all ecclesiastical structures in the colonies. In the case of the Spanish Crown and because of the royal patronage benefit, the Church was subdued to secular authorities that hindered free communications with the Holy See.

By focusing on remote Chile, this paper questions the existence of such a tight barrier between Rome and local Hispanic American churches. Aims to keep alive a vivid information path existed from both sides and were led by authorities, individuals and communities. People reached out for Rome looking for guidance and justice, and on the other hand, the Holy See tried progressively to apply its governance model worldwide and gain additional knowledge of this part of the world.

This topic involves various research perspectives and analysis scales. The geographical levels of interpretation as well as the institutional ones are some examples of the juxtaposed layers involved in the process. A global and interconnected approach will be used in order to complete the broader picture of power exercise and religious influence in the broad scenario of early modern history.

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