THE HIDDEN MOTIVES OF PASTORAL ACTION: Latin American Reflections by Juan Luis Segundo


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A thoughtful but pallid essay in liberation theology. In the face of the cataclysmic urbanization and industrialization now shaking Latin American society, Segundo sees the church on the verge of a fateful choice: either try to play its traditional role in an increasingly irreligious world, diluting the gospel and cooperating with the political and economic powers that be, or strip down to a ""heroic minority"" committed to real Christianity, regardless of the institutional costs. Segundo claims neutrality, but clearly favors the second option. Gingerly he suggests what it might lead to: losing vast captive audiences, handing over the administration of welfare programs to secular agencies, welcoming strange new bedfellows (such as Marxists), and, of course, running afoul of reactionary governments. In short, a revolution. Segundo has a promising subject on his hands, but he fails to do it justice. His bland generalizations belie both the agony of contemporary life in Latin America and, one senses, his own response to that agony. His argument cries out for concrete illustrations, but all we get is a pitiful handful, sandwiched between sociological abstractions. Some of these issues are explosive, and Segundo obviously had to be careful, but his muffled, academic tone will limit this book to a small, and mostly clerical, readership.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1978
Publisher: Orbis